Women married to NFL Mormons do best to keep things normal at home

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 19 2011 9:06 p.m. MDT

Danie Bingham's husband, Ryon, played for the San Diego Chargers for seven seasons (2004-10). While his career provided many thrilling experiences, it was also full of painful injuries. The hulking defensive lineman tore both biceps off the bone at different times, blew out both knees and had shoulder problems. The worst injury, however, came when he had heart problems during a game and the medicine wasn't working.

"They were ready to hook him up to a defibrillator. He was 28," Danie said. "It really put it all in perspective. Is this game really worth it? He was our life, my husband, the father of my children. Now when someone doesn't get up (off the football field), my heart sinks instantly."

Incredibly, Ryon recovered from all those injuries and has since retired. The Binghams and their two young children recently moved to Utah to be closer to family.

During Ryon's run in the NFL, the couple enjoyed memorable trips to Costa Rica and Europe, as well as other opportunities afforded by the NFL lifestyle.

As she became acquainted with other wives and girlfriends, Danie found it odd that many hired nannies to raise their children.

"Motherhood is our calling," Danie said. "It's important to raise children ourselves."

When their daughter, Kayla, was young, Danie routinely attended sacrament meeting before going to San Diego home games. But as Kayla grew older, Danie noticed her daughter began to resist going to church. At that point the Binghams made an important decision.

"Ryon and I decided church came first. Even though he was playing, I went to the full block of meetings to be an example to Kayla," Danie said. "It was more challenging, but we realized it was our duty."

Looking back, living under a high-profile microscope provided opportunities for personal growth, Danie said.

"Some people idolized you a little, so we became examples in things we said and did. People wanted to get to know us and hear our stories. Ryon spoke at a lot of firesides to young people," she said. "I grew up sheltered in Utah, but learned to share the gospel in subtle ways and love others unconditionally. I learned that there is beauty in being different."

Christy Denney

People are definitely intrigued by what her husband, John, does for work, says Christy Denney, who is married to the long snapper for the Miami Dolphins.

The high school kids who showed up at their house for early-morning seminary were the same way. They were pretty excited that an NFL player was their teacher.

"After a week, that goes away and it's just seminary," Christy said. "They got over it real quick."

Christy and John met in Provo. She was a student at BYU, and John, who would eventually go on to play for the Cougars, was at Ricks College.

John, who played defensive end in college, has carved out a career for himself as a specialist in the NFL. The job of a long snapper is not as high-contact as other positions, and it's one where it's best to keep a low profile. John tells Christy, "If people do know who I am, I've done a bad job."

John, whose older brother Ryan spent several years playing for the Buffalo Bills, is grateful for his opportunities and tries to keep an "even keel" for his family, despite the instability of an NFL career.

"He keeps it in perspective," Christy said. "He's just happy to have a job."

The couple has three boys, ages 6, 4 and 2, with a little girl on the way. They live in Weston, Fla., where Christy has been serving as the stake Relief Society secretary for three years.

John is in his second year of teaching early-morning seminary, which begins at their house at 5:45 a.m.

Christy says being married to an NFL player is not as hectic as everyone thinks, though there's more time to be together as a family during the offseason.

"It's a lifestyle," Christy said. "It's our life."

She's always followed football and says "it's definitely been part of my life for a long time." The game has taken the Denneys to Florida for the past seven years, where Christy says they are often people's first impression of what a Mormon is.

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