Players and Their Wives Show Their Fashion Sense by Strutting Their Stuff

The Washington Post's Dan Steinberg checks out the NFL Experience in Glendale, Az., where it's all about the kids (and certain adults who like to still act like kids).Reporter: Dan Steinberg/The Washington PostVideo: Jonathan Forsythe/washingtonpost.com
Saturday, February 2, 2008

High on the list of things you simply must do at Super Bowl Week: watch Donovan McNabb bid $5,000 for a fur coat at a charity auction and then cover his head with a pink napkin when it looks as if he might win; watch Reggie Jackson and Rickey Henderson mingle in the same crowd with the mothers of McNabb and Antwaan Randle El; observe the latest in sparkly high-end women's fashion created out of authentic NFL jerseys; and watch Kurt Warner's wife strut down a fashion runway.

To accomplish these goals, I headed to the Seventh Annual Players' Wives Fashion Extravaganza, which concluded with the husbands joining their wives on the runway, allowing us to observe McNabb, Steve Young, Emmitt Smith, Sammy Morris, Michael Pittman, Neil Rackers, Andre Wadsworth and many of their peers in varying degrees of discomfort.

Near the entrance was the booth promoting Wife Material Custom Jerseys, the pet project of Chanita Foster, wife of Lions tackle George Foster. Chanita Foster, one of the day's models, creates stylish outfits out of only authentic jerseys and also some shiny bits of something or other.

One mannequin was wearing a specially bling-studded Sean Taylor uniform dress; "just something to do in his remembrance, tugging at some heartstrings, to signify the guy, the player and the loss," said George Foster, who was milling about before the show. "And it's one extremely hot jersey. It really pops, as they say."

Foster's Web site explains that "We are determined to fill the stands in stadiums and arenas across the country with STYLE, CLASS, and SEX APPEAL! . . . Not every woman can be 'Wife Material!' " and the fashion show seemed to back her up; the women were mostly of the stunning variety, and their friends stood in the crowd and cheered and told them to go, girl.

"Fabulous," summarized Wilma McNabb, the president of the Professional Football Players Mothers Association, or PFPMA. "Our boys pick beautiful girls, and they're gorgeous on the runway."

Seated near McNabb was the mother of Marion Barber III, wearing a jean jacket with "NFL Mom" and her last name across the back. (The Cowboys' significant others were particularly fond of the customized clothing; Leonard Davis's wife, Amanda -- who also makes customized women's jersey apparel for several wives -- had a Dallas jersey that read "Mrs. Davis" in rhinestones.) And sitting near Barber's mother was Jacqueline Randle El, the mother of Antwaan and another active PFPMA member who will be participating in that group's fashion show this summer. Yes, she performed her son's trademark raised-arms celebration when I asked.

But Mrs. Randle El was hardly the only Redskins connection; ex-tackle Ray Brown's wife, Ashley, was on the host committee, Darrell Green delivered the invocation, and his family sat at one of two tables purchased by the Redskins, along with Daniel Snyder's wife, Tanya.

"We're the women behind the team," said Tanya Snyder, a major benefactor of the show, which raised money for Phoenix Children's Hospital. "It's a support system. These men need a lot of wonderful women who are behind the scenes, and they usually aren't recognized. I'm trying to do my part."

(I, of course, asked Snyder whether she was attending any of the Diddy-affiliated events this week. She said she was trying to get some rest. Fair enough.)

A few of the women were experienced models; emcee Patricia Smith, Emmitt's wife, is a former Miss Virginia (and a JMU grad), while Melissa Pittman, Michael's wife, still models, as does her husband. Others were not; "she's been practicing all week," said the 49ers' Adam Snyder, the wife of Erika, who had been required to watch his wife practice and offer advice. "She just doesn't want to fall. It's pretty embarrassing if you trip."

There was no tripping at all, and Kwamie Lassiter's three young sons pretty much stole the show by striking Heisman poses and popping their shirts on the runway, and Warner's wife has much longer hair than she used to, and McNabb wound up taking two women down the runway and shook his backside at the assembled photographers.

"The only bad thing about this fashion show -- everything they wear you have to buy," quipped Brown.

Diddy on the Block

What: Thursday's P. Diddy Block Party.

Where: Axis-Radius in downtown Scottsdale.

Entertainment: Diddy, pole-dancing women in football jerseys.

Famous Faces: Party co-host Nick Lachey, the men of "Nip/Tuck," Tommy Lee, actress Gabrielle Union, former Maryland tight end Vernon Davis, former Virginia defensive tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson.

Highlight: Being sneaked through the first level of security by two prominent ex-athletes.

Lowlight: Being abandoned short of the final security checkpoint, in the expanse where Giants fans were buying $7 Budweisers and flinging dollar bills at the pole-dancers.

Moment Never to be Forgotten: Hearing Union tell an Entertainment reporter that Britney Spears is "a very sweet girl."

Spotted . . .

Two Patriots fans unfurling a giant "Perfection 19-0" sign in downtown Scottsdale, directly in front of a Giants fan wearing a homemade "18-1" T-shirt. . . .

Maxim models, prepping for Friday night's epic Maxim party by asking men in a Scottsdale coffee shop to remove their pants and dance for their video camera. . . .

Dennis Rodman, wandering in downtown Scottsdale early Friday and hugging police officers.

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