By Bill Bradley, contributing editor
Chris Golic, the wife of former NFL player and ESPN radio host Mike Golic, has become a football authority in her own right. The mother of two former Division I football players has evolved into a "spokesmom" for USA Football's Heads Up Football program during the past two years.
As a member of USA Football's Heads Up Football Advisory Committee, she attends numerous NFL Moms Football Safety Clinics and speaks to parents about how safety in football has improved. She also will appear on a Sept. 1 roundtable for NFL Network, scheduled to air at 8 p.m. ET, beside Commissioner Roger Goodell, former NFL coach John Madden and former NFL wide receiver Michael Irvin.
Chris spoke this week about the past year working with USA Football since she last talked to NFL Evolution, the Moms Clinics she has been to and what parents are asking her during these events.
You've become a "spokesmom" for the Heads Up Football program since we last talked. What is your title with USA Football?
I actually have a business card, which is something new and exciting for me. The exact title they gave me was "Youth Football Consultant." I kind of think of myself as the team mom for USA Football.
What has the past year been like for you?
It's been really exciting and it's been fun and interesting, too. I've been to so many places. Recently I was making a list of all of the places that I've been. I'm pretty close to double-digits on clinics that I've done with moms. It's been interesting for me because getting out there and talking to the moms, and seeing what's out there, it's kind of eye-opening because I've been away from youth sports for a little while. For me, it's getting back to the basics. What I find is a lot of moms are feeling pressure from their peers. They're being asked, "How can you be letting your son play football?" That's the main thing that I get from them. That's the main reason I think they reach out to the clinics. They want to inform themselves with really good up-to-the-minute information. A lot of moms told me they take that information and relay it to other moms, letting them know of the changes that are happening in football from the youth level up.
Your husband Mike on ESPN Radio sometimes talks about being jealous that you travel more than he does. Could go into your travel in a little more depth?
A few of the (cities) I've doubled up on now. I've been to Kansas City twice for a clinic and I'll be in Chicago just after Labor Day for the (Bears') second football clinic. Some of the teams are already on their second go-round as far as Moms Clinics because they had such a good response with it. I've been traveling quite a bit to interesting places and different clinics. Then I got to go to Canton, Ohio, in August to do a (roundtable for NFL Network) and then NFL Films (in New Jersey). It's been a little bit of everything. It's been exciting to go out and see people and try to reach out to people in different venues through TV, clinics -- any way that I can. I'm not away from home all the time, but I tend to be gone for little clusters at a time. It's fun.
What goes through your mind when you're on stage at some of the Moms Clinics with a number of football dignitaries?
I think, "What has happened to me in the last year?" That's because I'm just like every other mom who is sitting out in the audience. I was a mom for 49 of my years. I still continue to be one, though my kids aren't at home anymore. I had never envisioned myself in this capacity. I always wondered what I would do when my kids grew up and moved away. Like I told one of my good friends, "Something will come up that speaks to me and something that I could feel passionate about. I'll grab a hold of it when the time comes." About six months later, the NFL contacted me and asked if I would be interested in speaking. I mean, I spent my whole life doing this. I feel comfortable when I'm with people. When I'm on stage with dignitaries, I feel a little bit overwhelmed. But I feel like it's a subject I've been around my whole life, so I don't feel overly intimidated. I just come at it with a different perspective than some of the dignitaries.
When you're at these events, what is the main point that you want to get across?
I'm there not to sway anybody to let their son play football. More or less, I want to tell my story, the things that (football) have done for my family and my kids. I let them know the changes that have taken place since my sons played and the reasons that I think they are positive. And just kind of keep them up to date on the things that they should know as a parent that I didn't necessarily know when I was younger, including things like hydration.
What are some of the questions that moms ask offstage when you're at these events?
The peer issue is a lot of it. I've had a few moms who have daughters that want to play tackle football and they've talked to me on the side about that. They wonder if they should let their daughter do it. My advice has been that if your son or daughter is passionate about something, then you should embrace it with them. I'm a believer that you should give your kids opportunities to try the things that they are interested in and that they love. As a mom, I never wanted to tell my kids, "No, I don't think you can do that" or "I'm nervous about you doing that so I don't want you to do that." I think kids if they try something they will either realize they are good at it and really like it, or it's not for them. But I would like it to be their decision if possible, because it's their life and you want them to be confident in what they're choosing.
You were recently part of a roundtable with Commissioner Goodell, John Madden and Michael Irvin. What was it like to sit on that panel?
It was exciting for me. Obviously with my husband playing nine years in the league and my kids, I know those names mean a lot to the league. It was interesting for me and exciting for me to share my angle with them and the audience who watched.
On that Canton panel, you talked about one incident in which Mike sent one of your sons back into a football game with what might have been a concussion. Was that the turning point for you to get involved in making the game safer?
I never really thought to myself, "Oh, I'm going to be an advocate for (football safety)." But it was definitely a moment that stuck with me as a mother. It was one of those moments that you tend not to forget. As a mother, your heart sinks when you see your kid get hurt. Along the way, Mike and I had differences of opinion in how things have gone. A lot of times, I have acquiesced to him because of his experience with the league and playing football in general. (That incident) definitely was something that helped to shape my opinions in what I talk to moms about, that's for sure. First-hand experience goes a long way.
What does the next year look like for you?
I don't know. I plan to do clinics. I know that we're launching a Facebook page pretty soon. I'm open to everything. I think, from the response that we got from moms, there's a lot of different avenues we can take with it. I think moms are hungry for information, not only for football but in sports in general. A lot of the problems we talk about at these Moms Clinics are not just football problems; they're youth sports problems in general. I don't really know (why my next year holds), but I let the road take me where it does. I don't force the way. I just see what happens.