NFL wives bring style to Super Bowl LIII

Being the wife of an NFL player means being part of a unique sorority. No one else can quite understand the ups and downs of having a husband who plays professional football more than other women in the same role.

So more than a decade ago, the NFL wives decided to come together. They needed the support of other women as much as their husbands needed their support. “We decided to come together to support each other along with different charities in the community,” said Erika Harrison, wife of former New England Patriot Rodney Harrison.

For 18 years, the Off the Field (OTF) Players Wives’ Association has hosted a fashion show during Super Bowl weekend. In 2006, OTF became an official nonprofit. With more than 1,200 members across the 32 NFL cities, the women in the organization have the goal of effecting change within themselves and their communities.

This year, when Super Bowl LIII comes to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Off the Field Players’ Wives Association Super Bowl Fashion Show will be held at the Shops Buckhead Atlanta. The sell-out event has raised more than $800,000 for charity, said Harrison, who has walked the runway for the past three years.

“The community looks forward to having former and current players come out to support the event. They want to see the players out of their element,” Harrison said.

The Shops Buckhead Atlanta will produce the show, which will feature fashions from 12 retailers, including Billy Reid, Etro, La Perla, Planet Blue, Theory, Tod’s and more, along with makeup from Nars.

OTF has grown since its early beginnings, said Harrison, who now resides in Atlanta. Back then, the women were so focused on their families and supporting their husbands’ careers that it was hard for them to give their time to other efforts. “We had a slow start getting wives involved, but over time with doing the fashion show, it piqued the interest of a lot of the wives to get on board. They also saw how much we were giving back to the community,” Harrison said.

That is what attracted Trameka Bettis, wife of former Pittsburgh Steeler Jerome Bettis, to the organization several years ago. “The impact Off the Field has in the community and their philanthropic efforts are so well-received,” said Bettis, who also resides in Atlanta, “and it reminds the community that although our husbands are so well-respected, we have a presence and a purpose.”

Jerome Bettis said the event is all about the ladies. “I am the accessory. I have to hold my elbow up strong. I have to be timely and my clothes have to be ironed. I have very little wiggle room,” he joked. While the Super Bowl is an opportunity for NFL players, particularly those who have retired, to reunite, at the OTF fashion show, they are focused on supporting their wives.

“Our wives are so important to our success, so every chance we get to honor them and shine a little light on them, that is really important to do,” said Bettis.

Though Rodney Harrison said he is more of a behind-the-scenes type of guy, he enjoys participating in the event. “I am not a natural model. My wife is really into it and I look forward to it,” he said.

This year’s event will benefit Girls Who Code, a national nonprofit founded in 2012 with the mission to close the gender gap in computer science jobs by 2027. “We are an organization of women. To support an organization that is trying to get more girls into technology is huge for us,” Erika Harrison said.

While the fashion show ends in what seems like just a few minutes, the women said they hope their impact on the communities they visit is felt for years to come.


Off the Field Players’ Wives Association Super Bowl Fashion Show

11:30 a.m-2:30 p.m. Feb. 1. $100-$350. The Shops Buckhead Atlanta, 3035 Peachtree Road, Atlanta. Tickets available at Schedule is as follows:

11:30 a.m.: Red carpet

12:30 p.m.: Fashion show begins

2-6 p.m.: VIP events at the Shops Buckhead Atlanta

4-8 p.m.: ALBA cocktail mixer hosted by Terrell Owens