Family, faith, and giving back are what Ryan Pickett is all about. Having played for the St. Louis Rams, the Green Bay Packers, and the Houston Texans, Ryan knows the importance of teamwork — both on and off the field. We spoke with Ryan about the Ryan Pickett Foundation and the importance of being a role model to his biggest fans…his children.
Let’s talk about the Ryan Pickett Foundation. Why did you decide to start it?
We had waited for twelve years to start a Foundation because we wanted it to be perfect, we wanted it to have great impact and be tremendously beneficially and we didn’t want to do it just to do it. Having six children of our own, we have obviously always been very sensitive to the needs of children. After doing some research we found that there was serious need in the foster care system, so many of these children are just forgotten or left behind and not given the attention that every child deserves. We do our best to help every needy children feel love and compassion.
What have been some of the successes of the Foundation?
Since 2012 when we established the Foundation, we have been very fortunate to have hosted three successful events that benefit the Foster Care System both in Ryan plays, in Green Bay and San Diego, where we spend the NFL Offseason. In Green Bay, we have hosted two Shop With a Jock Holiday Events (2012, 2013) where we bring Foster Care Children shopping for toys for themselves. We bus them to a local Wal-Mart where they are each given a $100 gift card to shop. This past summer we also hosted our first Golf Tournament in San Diego, in which the proceeds were split evenly between Foster Care Homes in San Diego and Green Bay. We are also in the process of planning our second annual Golf Tournament in San Diego for June.
How do you and your wife manage six children, while at the same time being a loving and strong household?
We make it a priority to find time for each other. Each week, no matter how stressed out we are or what we have going on, we force ourselves to take a Date Night where it’s just the two of us. It’s important to make keep our relationship strong so we can continue to build a loving and strong household because after all, Mommy and Daddy have to keep loving each other, so every Friday we take a few hours for ourselves, usually it’s a movie and dinner..
Do you ever find that you bring football strategies into caring for the kids?
Being a football player, it always makes conscious of my schedule. At work, my schedule is very regimented and I try to bring that home with me because it is important to be organized and conscious of your schedule. I am very strict with our families’ schedule, like what we need to do and how we do them. For example in the mornings, they have a time where the kids have to wake up, they know what time they have to eat breakfast and they know that they can’t dilly-dally.
How has being in the NFL prepared you for being a dad, and conversely, how does being a father affect you as a player?
Obviously, what I do and playing for the NFL, allows me to feed my kids and provide for my family. As mentioned above, football has made me more disciplined as a Father and has definitely made me a role model., but I would be a role model for the kids, even if I wasn’t playing football. I have definitely become more aware of my actions on and off the field because I do know that kids, including my own, look up to football players and professional athletes as role models and it important to be honorable and respectable because children are always watching.
How do you keep the romance alive with your wife having six kids? How do you make the marriage work—and continue working?
In addition to the date night, we work to put the kids to sleep early, around 7 or 7:30, each night. That allows us to have time to ourselves each night without the kids. We are also each other’s best friends and we constantly make each other laugh! Ryan is also a romantic type of guy and he always makes it a point to make me feel special with extravagant flowers or chocolates.
What are some of your core parenting principles?
Faith first. We want our children to grow up in a household knowing and loving God. Our goal is to raise our children to really be good, genuine people that care for other people and are honest.
How do you keep your kids active during the winter time? Are any kids showing any inclination towards football?
It is honestly very difficult to keep them active in the Winter in Green Bay! We sign the older ones up for indoor recreational sports like swimming and tennis. We also often throw them in their snowsuits and let them play out in the snow! They love it! Ryan Jr. is really the only child that has an inclination for Football. He loves it. He watches it all the time and pretend plays it.
What advice would you give to other families who are struggling to keep it all together and make it work?
It is definitely hard to keep it together, and our advice would be to remember that it’s no longer just about you as an individual or you as a couple, you now have to the put the children and the family first. It’s also very helpful to instill in the older the children that they have to help out with the younger children, feed them, bate them, etc. Also, we believe that having more children makes it easier to manage a large family because they are always paired off and they all have a playdate.