For as long as he can remember, Chris Samuels believed he was not the marrying type. So it took a sign from God — three of them, actually — to convince him otherwise.
The former NFL player says he has had prophetic dreams throughout his life. One showed him being drafted by the Redskins in 2000; indeed, he was selected third overall that year and played left tackle for the team until he retired in 2010.
He’d been in Washington for three years when he met Monique Cox. Samuels was toying with the idea of starting a music label, so a business associate set up a meeting with Cox, a whip-smart 19-year-old New Jersey native who was trying to make it as a hip-hop artist.
“You got a man?” he asked her after they introduced themselves at the Shark Club in Centreville. Intimidated by the 6-foot-5, 325-pound giant with the deepest voice she’d ever heard, Cox just nodded.
“Well, you’ve got to excuse me then,” he told her. “ ’Cause I’m real aggressive when I see something I like.” Today, Samuels says he can’t believe he was so bold. Later that night, he heard her perform. He liked her sound and promised to keep in touch.
For the next three years he did keep in touch, even after he nixed the idea of starting a label. At the end of 2005, she told him that she and her boyfriend had broken up. She and Samuels became friends, going to clubs and parties together. Cox, who was a tomboy growing up, asked Samuels to take her fishing at his vacation home in Virginia Beach.
“I’m just thinking, ‘A woman fishing — yeah, right,’ ” he recalls. “If she goes I’ve got to do everything, from tying the line up to baiting the hook and everything.”
But she finally convinced him and, as she tells it, she caught more fish than he did. (He disagrees but admits it was close.)
They grew to be best buddies and near-constant companions — hanging out, watching sports and partying until dawn. Cox had given up on music and become a real estate appraiser with a flexible schedule. Samuels had plenty of free time in the off-season and always wanted her around. “I’d never had this much in common with a female person before,” he says.
But after a year, Cox realized her feelings went beyond friendship. “I started thinking about how it would it be if he wasn’t in my life, and I couldn’t imagine it. I was like, Wow. He’s such a good guy. I could really be with him.” But she was afraid she’d scare him off, so she kept her feelings to herself.
A month later he sat her down and said, “I think I’m falling in love with you.”
“It was almost like we were already in a relationship without the titles,” she says. Although they were both nervous about making it official, once they did it felt completely natural. “Literally, we’re best friends and we’re lovers as well. It’s the best of both worlds,” she says.
After a few happy years together, Cox became more interested in the idea of marriage. “Are we just aimlessly dating?” she’d ask.
Samuels was resistant. “People always push you to get married when they think you’re ready. Then all of a sudden you jump in, and you’re like, Oh, man, what did I just do?” He hadn’t seen many successful marriages growing up and was worried that it was a recipe for misery.
And he was happy with the way things were. He and Cox cracked each other up and enjoyed the same things. When he got into a real estate deal that went sour, she helped him organize his finances and put his business affairs in order. He began to go to church with her regularly, and they stopped going out to clubs so often.
After he injured his neck and was forced to retire in March 2010, he could feel his life growing calmer and more stable. That fall, he had two dreams indicating he should marry Cox. He was still wary on Dec. 30, 2010, as he tossed and turned in bed. As he lay there, he prayed: “All right, Lord, I know you’re probably laughing. You’ve already given me two answers in two dreams. I just need one more confirmation from you.” Samuels slept for maybe 40 minutes and dreamed that his house was being remodeled. In the dream, he wandered into a room called “Club Trinity” and spoke to three young women who told him how good he and Cox were together. When he woke, he asked Cox about the meaning of the word trinity. He’d never known that in Christianity, it’s often used in reference to the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
That night, Samuels and Cox rang in the new year at a church service. Afterward, they changed into pajamas, lit a fire in their back yard and poured some wine. Samuels explained his dream to Cox and told her, “I’m ready to do what I’m supposed to do.” As he opened a ring box, she fell to the ground in shock. With tears rolling down her face, she said, “Of course.”
On March 3, they married at the Ronald Reagan Building before 350 guests, including Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and former players Marcus Washington, Fred Smoot and Shawn Springs. Cox, now 28, emerged from a dramatic curtain and walked down the aisle in a dress that glittered with crystals. She and Samuels, 34, laughed as a video at the start of the ceremony recounted the story of their romance.
The night they got engaged, she assuaged his last fears about marriage. “You’re going to be the happiest man on Earth,” she promised. “Everything you thought about marriage is going to be thrown out the window. We’re going to create our own thing.”
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