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ITG Feature II: Mama Mullen a part of culture change at Florida

October 17, 2018
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Back on the patio as the sky grows darker and the rain starts to pitter patter down, Megan Mullen thinks back to the dark times the this team she now feels responsible for has gone through. And like any Mama bear, she can’t help but become impassioned, ready to go back and fight a battle for them just on principle.

“I do think the players really got disappointed, I think they got disappointed and I try even harder to love them even more and support them even more because they never should’ve gone through that disappointment. Now on the plus side, we’re all together now and that stops and look how we’re doing as a family now. And I wouldn’t trade that for the world and I don’t think they would either.”

Since she can’t go back in time and keep that disappointment from never happening, she’s doing all she can now to love them through it, making sure they feel like a vital member of her family. She takes Canon and her daughter Breelyn to practice whenever she can, encouraging the guys when they come to the sidelines. Canon spends as much time as he can around the older brothers he’s inherited and has become somewhat of an honorary team member. And on Thursday nights while Dan Mullen fulfills his duty as coach with a weekly radio show, the table reserved for Megan sits empty, because she’s having family dinner back at the stadium with her 100+ kids.

“It really kind of brings us together as a family,” describes fullback RJ Raymond.

“She's there and really cares for us. She shows it to us. Not that anybody has been fake before, but you can tell it's not fake. You can tell she genuinely cares. She knows everyone's parents name, she knows everyone's brother and sister. So, that's been really cool and really reassuring."

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And then there are game days.

"Oh, Mrs. Mullen, she's the best,” brags Raymond.

“She's always there. She's always on the plane. She actually sits right in front of me on the plane. She's always there at Gator Walk giving us hugs and you know, asking us how our family is doing. She's the best. She's really awesome."

Cornerback CJ Henderson explains, in a way that only a young person can, that what endures Megan Mullen to them is the way she takes care of them.

“She’s like a team mom for us, like those Pop Warner days. She give us treats before the game— like candy, like she’ll probably give like a brownie or a lollipop or stuff like that—and hugs. So she’s very good for us. We didn’t really have that last year so it’s pretty cool; she’s a cool mom.”

While everything else may be behind the scenes, Gator Walk is a small public example of an extension of this relationship.

The first week of the season Megan says it was explained to her that most coaches wives elect to greet the coach on the field. But when the first game day—and Gator Walk—finally arrived, she couldn’t bring herself to head in the stadium.

“If Dan and my babies got off that bus and I wasn’t there, that just wouldn’t be right so, no. I have to see every single one of them and I have to touch every single one of them and give every single one of them a message.

“A lot of it’s the same message but then there’s special messages for each person and if I know something might be coming, like from them that day, like it might be a little bit of an extra wink. But I want to see their eyes and I want them, like I just have to touch them and let them know how much I love ‘em and how I proud I am of them because you don’t go through what you go through all week—I mean what they’ve committed themselves too is so extraordinary, I just want to be there for them any way I can.”

Now with thousands of fans, hordes of cameras and kids, all screaming and ready to catch a glimpse of their favorite player, lining and waiting along the Gator Walk route, each player can be seen waiting. No one begins that walk until they’ve had a moment with Mama Mullen.

“The thing that [C’yontai] likes about her that, during the Gator Walk, she greets them when they getting off the bus and she kisses and she encourages them,” says Lametrius Lewis.

“He said it’s like she is boosting them up to go out there and do their best on the field. He said that was something different for him… it’s like those boys was, I mean they was so happy to just see her, like that’s what they want. They expect her to be standing right there waiting on them.”

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The question has to be asked, does this make a difference? Dan and Megan Mullen can make changes in the culture, like holding a spring prom for the players and making them bring their dates through a receiving line and introducing them to the Mullen’s. They can have the Thursday night family dinners and Megan can send the encouraging text when she feels a guy is having an off day.

She can even get the response that makes her realize it’s worth it—“Every day like they know more and more how much I love them. I got a really sweet [text], two weeks ago, I got a really sweet one and I won’t even say who it is but he said ‘you know what you make me feel really loved’ and I’m like that’s all I need.”

But does it have a longer lasting affect?

For the answer to that, Megan Mullen doesn’t have to look any further then what her babies did at Mississippi State, pulling out a 13-6 win over the No. 22 Bulldogs in Mullen’s return to Starkville.

“I will tell you 100%, Dan and I never mentioned one thing about Mississippi State or Starkville before that game, period. Never, never, never, they just needed to play a football game, they never once needed to think about that element of it for us. But for the first time after a game, I just grabbed their faces and to a couple of them I just said ‘thank you.’ And I just, I was so proud of them. And they were like ‘Mama we were never gonna let him lose that game.’ And I’m like what?

“Dan and I never once thought about that angle. We wanted to keep that so far away for them but deep down they knew about it and they thought about it and completely unbeknownst to us they went and did that for him. They grew up and got 1000 times tougher because they wanted to make him proud.

“I think they now, I think they have his back as much as he has theirs and it’s just changed everything. And like look at the LSU game, they’ve just grown up a ton for him because they’ve wanted to do that for him and I think they have that respect for him and they wanna make him proud and it’s just like, something clicked.

“And I think that’s so, so, so special. That’s when it’s family, that’s when it starts getting really good.”

ITG Feature II: Mama Mullen a part of culture change at Florida

4,899 Views | 5 Replies | Last: 2 yr ago by meghoagland
mdvgator
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Great story. It's seldom you see a story about the football wives and what they're truly like. I'm glad to hear Mama Mullen is so genuine after the negative stories were out there about her not liking Gainesville when they were here the first time.

I sat next to the coaches wives last year and Nussmeyer's wife was great. They are so invested in the program and feel everything the fans feel. I asked her what it's like to hear everyone yell at her husband about the play calling, etc., and she said it comes with the territory. She had a great sense of humor about it and I really respected what they all said.
Mdvgator
Mark Wheeler
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Staff
Thanks for sharing that story on Nuss' wife.

We get so caught up in it sometimes we forget these men have families and those families have to read and hear what his said and written about their husband, father, uncle, cousin, brother, etc..
g8orbill
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we certainly have us a winner

I bet the first thing Miss State noticed was missing was Mama Mullen
Gatorryder
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Have really enjoyed this feature and am amazed at how things have changed. You never heard much about the envolvement of the past two coach's family. Considering some things that were said about Megan Mullen, I never thought that Coach Mullen would be an option to be the HC of the Florida Gator. Glad I was so wrong and extremely happy that they were offered the job and excepted. There is definitely a big change for the best. Hopefully if a few bumps occur the Gator fans will understand and support the efforts underway to bring the Gators back to prominense once again. I believe that we have a bright future under the Mullens and his staff.

GO GATORS, BEAT UGA!!!!!
meghoagland
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Intern
I LOVE this feature and seeing what the Mullen family has brought to the team off the field. I think it changes the way the boys carry themselves and it makes it easier for them to be away from their families every week. Great feature Kassidy!
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