Thanks to the sacrifices of Jennifer Kruger, family is the ultimate team sport for famous football family

Published: Saturday, May 10 2014 2:05 p.m. MDT

“You just embrace it,” she said. “This is how it is.”

When her husband played in Oregon, it rained a lot. She felt it wasn’t just important for her to be in the stands to support her husband, but to have their children at each game as well.

Jennifer carried Jessica in a pack that she wore on her stomach, and then she and Paul Jr, who was about 18 months old, would both poke their heads out of a rain poncho as the three of them huddled under an umbrella during the games.

“It’s the only way I know it,” she said. “Really what it did for me in that way was it became our experience. It wasn’t just him playing. It was us. We were playing football. We were trying to graduate from college.”

Over the years, more children — David (1990), Joe (1992), Mark (1995) and Erica (1996) — simply meant a bigger Kruger crowd traveling to events and activities.

Jessica, who is married to Paul’s former Utah teammate Tony Bergstrom (currently a lineman for the Oakland Raiders) and Erica, who is a senior at Pleasant Grove High, laugh as they recount the hours they spent watching their brothers practice everything from baseball to football.

Their father coached little league football while their mom chauffeured — and cheered.

To this day, David Kruger, who played at Utah and a year in the NFL before going to work with his father at their company Greenlife Labs this winter, said in a stadium of thousands, he only hears one voice.

“I could hear my mom more clearly than my coaches — and that’s high school and college,” David said laughing.

His younger brother, Joe, said having unconditional love like he enjoyed gave him the confidence to chase the kind of goals some people don’t even consider.

“I think it can make all the difference in the world,” Joe said of having a mother like his. “It is one of the strongest forces of life. It can carry you through life. Some people have tough lives, bad times, but if they have a mother and family that loves them, no matter what, that gives them all the hope in the world.”

Erica Kruger said her mom takes the time to call or communicate with every child every day.

“She takes the time just to make sure their day is going well, to make sure they’re OK,” Erica said, “even though we’re all basically adults. … The best times, for me, are when we’re all just here laughing, talking, making memories.”

Jennifer Kruger said cultivating a sense of loyalty and support among her children was always a priority. For the Krugers, family is the ultimate team sport.

“We have a family motto that we’ve had since the kids were little, and it’s, ‘Where we go one, we go all,’ ” said Jennifer, who tweets about her children and the Kruger Cares foundation at @KrugerMomma. “Paul played in the Super Bowl, but we all went to the Super Bowl. We’re all on a mission in Australia (with Mark); We all ran the Salt Lake City (half) marathon (with Erica).”

Jennifer Kruger laughs when she considers the schedule of activities and athletics she juggled for her children when they were young.

“I look back and I don’t know how I did it,” she said. “It’s amazing. We think, ‘How did we do that? That’s crazy!’ I did it different than some moms do, but you’ve got to do whatever works for you. I took everybody everywhere.”

She said when her oldest children were in high school, the family car became storage space for balls, bats and football pads, as well as a changing room. She’d pack a cooler with snacks and drinks and they’d take to the road.

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