By Anna Lanfreschi
HLN: What did you think of Super Bowl XLVII?
Leigh Anne Tuohy: It was crazy — crazy fun and so close at the end. We thought we would cruise through it, but it was nail-biting and nerve-wracking and then bam! Lights go out, what the heck just happened? But in the end, we had more points than the 49ers and now we are the Super Bowl champions!
HLN: You’re feeling pretty good about the win!
LAT: It was a great time—happy heart about it. I think Sunday was the latest my husband has stayed up in the 30 years! It was a precious moment with friends and family celebrating together.
HLN: How proud are you of Michael and all of his accomplishments?
LAT: It is so fun to see one of your kids living out their dreams and getting to do what they worked so hard for. And I’m so grateful for all the people who have helped along the way: Miss Sue was there — she was instrumental in helping him academically — and S.J. and Collins, and Michael’s friends from high school and college, and all the people who’ve poured their heart and soul into helping Michael. I really believe it takes a village — never one person. I was the organizer and the general, but if the army wasn’t behind me, this never would have happened.
HLN: What about player safety: Michael goes up against some pretty big players during the game. Do you worry about his life after football?
LAT: No. We’re a very faith-driven family, so we know that he is where he’s supposed to be, doing what he’s supposed to be doing. His helmet did fly off on Sunday and I got a little annoyed, but I got over it after a few minutes. Michael takes care of his body and has great Ravens staff to educate him. There is anxiety that comes with such a brutal sport and issues have surfaced this year, but they’re being addressed and I’m happy they’re getting attention. Michael and these young men choose to play football — we’re here to be supportive.
HLN: You’ve become nationally known as a “football player’s mom,” a moniker you didn’t necessarily ask for. How do you deal with that?
LAT: We certainly didn’t plan for it — we didn’t have an agenda to drive down the street and find a young man to adopt. It was God-given, but we don’t think it was by accident. It gave us a platform that we continue to use: People think they really relate to “The Blind Side.” They think, “I want to do those kinds of things.” They plug themselves in and they emulate and they give wonderful kids everywhere a chance. I truly believe that if we give them the opportunity, they can change.
HLN: How do you handle the fame and the bright lights? Does it ever become too much?
LAT: Sometimes it is a lot. People want to take pictures with you and sign autographs. But I always stop myself and say, “Wait a minute, you know what? Sign that autograph and take that picture. It could make someone’s day!” We all have values and we work hard — if someone wants your picture, get your butt up and take it! This could be the biggest moment for them.
HLN: What’s next for you and your family?
LAT: We’re flying out to the Ravens parade. We never miss a parade, so we’re going to meet Michael there. S.J. is a freshman in college, playing basketball. He’s close to Michael now, so he looks after him. And I’m working on a new TV show that looks at the foster care and adoption world. There are 400,000 kids in foster care. If every faith-based organization took in those children, it would wipe out the need for foster care. We’re a nation that was based on innovation and creativity and right now, it feels like we’re getting stagnant. So this show is meant to light a fire and get people motivated. But it’ll also be fun — you get to see the crazy people who make my life what it is. ♦