You guessed it. Shopping.
But, to be honest, there wasn’t much else worth talking about during the fourth quarter last Sunday inside the Georgia Dome.
Falcons wives certainly didn’t want to discuss what was happening on the field. Their husbands were in the throes of a 28-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints, making a trip to the playoffs seem improbable.
So, as the clock wound down, Heidi McClure and Diane Chandler talked clothing. But 6-month-old Maverick McClure slept through it all.
Snug in his mother’s arms, little Maverick snoozed while New Orleans scored 14 unanswered points in the second half.
I looked over at Maverick and realized he had exactly the right idea.
Three hours before game time, however, Maverick was wide awake. And he couldn’t stop drooling.
Heidi, wife of Atlanta’s starting center Todd McClure, was running ragged around her Sugar Hill home trying to get ready for the game. She and Brenda McClure, Todd’s mother, took turns dabbing Maverick’s mouth.
At one point, Maverick was handed off to me, the sports writer who just happened to be standing in the kitchen.
“If they weren’t here, I wouldn’t be able to do it,” Heidi said of her in-laws. “I’d be going to the game with my hair in a ponytail.”
Brenda and Leo McClure, Todd’s father, drive to Atlanta from Baton Rouge, La., for every Falcons home game. By 10:30 a.m., Leo had already headed down to the Dome by himself. He likes to get there early “to take in all the sights.”
Todd — after eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a game day tradition since high school — was out of the house by 8:45 a.m., on his way to a more recent tradition, picking up left guard Bob Hallen.
Likewise, Heidi and Hallen’s wife Heather have car-pooled to home games together for the past two seasons.
“Once I pick up Heather, she can make me nervous,” Heidi said. “She’ll be nervous. And when she’s nervous, I’ll get nervous.”
Heidi and Todd have known each other since middle school. But they didn’t start dating until their senior year at Central High in Baton Rouge, despite the strong forces that were pushing them together — their fathers.
“Her daddy had Todd picked out for her in the eighth grade,” Brenda said.
Heidi caught Leo’s eye as a member of the high school dance team.
“Leo said, ‘Look at that long-legged girl. I’d love for my boy to hook up with her,’” Brenda remembered. “We both got our wishes.”
But Heidi was a tough sell.
“Actually, I didn’t even like him at first,” she said with a chuckle, trying not to let Brenda hear.
Before they started dating, Todd tried to sneak a kiss from Heidi on the field after a football game.
“He was like, ‘Just kiss me on the cheek,’” Heidi said. “I was like, ‘No.’”
But, later that year, Todd asked Heidi to homecoming, and they’ve been a couple ever since. They married in January 1999 after Todd’s senior season at LSU. They purchased their current home after the Falcons made their move to Flowery Branch official.
“Hopefully we’ll be here next year,” Heidi said. “Our contract is up at the end of the season. Heather’s is, too.”
It’s hard to plant roots when you’re an NFL wife. You never know where the next job will be. You never know if there will be a next job.
“That’s one of the hardest parts,” Heidi said. “It’s always in the back of your mind. And then you get close to so many people and make good friends. We’ve had so many people leave that we were close to. That’s really hard for me.”
When we picked up Heather, she carried her baby daughter Brianna with her. Several Falcons had babies during the offseason. And they’re all about the same age. Hmmm.
“It was that San Francisco game,” Heidi said with a knowing nod. The Falcons had away games in San Francisco and Oakland on consecutive weekends surrounding Thanksgiving last season. The team decided to stay on the West Coast for the holiday.
“They paid for us to go,” Heidi said. “All the wives went” — she paused — “and got pregnant.”
Players’ wives and families have special parking privileges at the Dome. They enter through a special doorway and sit in special seats, right behind the Falcons bench.
“Oh God,” Heidi said as two men — one bedecked in Bourbon Street beads, the other in New Orleans black and gold — sat down in our row.“Who brought the Saints guys?” I asked.
“Todd’s uncle,” Heidi said covering her face.
Unfortunately, those Saints guys had plenty of reason to celebrate. After an early Falcons touchdown, New Orleans scored twice in less than a minute to take the lead for good in the first quarter.
And Maverick was all smiles. Ah, to be 6-months old again. No worries. Just sleep and eat. Drool? No problem. Help is on its way.
Maverick likes to sit back and stare at the colorful flags that dangle from the Dome’s roof. He is mesmerized by the cheerleaders’ pom-poms.
But really, what young man isn’t?
Early in the fourth quarter, Saints fans at the Dome tried to start “the wave.” Yes, there were enough Saints fans there to make the attempt a success. And yes, people still do “the wave.”
When New Orleans scored again to go up 28-10 with more than eight minutes left to play, Falcons fans headed for the exits. The Falcons wives remained in their seats.
“When it gets going like this,” Heidi said, “it gets to be really long.”
And that’s when it’s time to talk about shopping — or fall asleep and dream about pom-poms.