Mouthpeace, episode 2: Concussing
Michael and Pele discuss their thoughts about concussions and whether Michael will retire from the NFL. They bring on retired NFL player Dawan Landry and his wife, Dominique Lee-Fong Landry (Dom), to help them envision life after retirement, and to process Pele & Dom’s ever-present fear of concussions and CTE.
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Mouthpeace, episode 2: Concussing transcript
[00:13] Michael Bennett: Wake up. Wake up. You’re listening to Mouthpeace with Michael Bennett and Pele Bennett.
[00:33] Pele Bennett: Thank you, thank you for all the love you guys have shared on our new show that launched last week. If you haven’t had a chance to check out that episode, Crock Pot Love, please check that out either before or after you listen to today’s episode. That episode was a lot of fun, a lot of laughs. And it’s also a good way to get to know us and our relationship better.
[00:50] Michael Bennett: Before we dig into the topic of today, we wanna let you know what’s coming up to honor Black History Month. Over the next few episodes, we’ve got a whole range of guests who are going to help us to think about black history from all types of perspectives, from culture, redemption to religion and so much more.
[01:07] Pele Bennett: Next week, we’re joined by the great John Carlos, where we’re going to talk about his stand at the 1968 Olympics, where he endured adversity, but also persevered and came back out on top.
[01:16] Michael Bennett: And after that, we have Freeway Ricky Ross, not the Rick Ross from Maybach Music, more of the Rick Ross who was the drug kingpin. And we get a chance to talk about a story of redemption and a story of struggle.
[01:30] Pele Bennett: For the final week of Black American History Month, we’re going to be joined by Dr. Eddie Glaude. He’s the chair of the African-American Studies Department at Princeton University. We’re going to talk about race, we’re going to talk about culture and we’re going to talk about the role of the black church in today’s society.
[01:44] Michael Bennett: So please tune in during Black History Month as we take a deep dive into African-American history, as we have deep conversations. And we have a lot of self reflection. And today we’re talkin’ about retirement. My whole thing is that I feel I’m beat up. Not like a beat up like just physically, but like I’m just tired of doing the same thing for so long. I’ve been playing football for 20 something years. Like it’s always been the same regiment. You beat yourself up to get healthy, to beat yourself back up again. And at what point is it worth it? Like I’ve been to the Super Bowl. I’ve been to Pro Bowls. I did everything in the NFL you could possibly do. And I’m just like, OK, it’s been fun, but I feel like there’s like another side of something I need to tap into. And I feel like I want to feel like my kids are growing, my wife is growing, everything is growing. And I feel good. So it’s a great time to walk away. I don’t want to be the boxer who’s been punch-drunk. You know, when I look at Muhammad Ali, or some of the greatest people — like they played until they just couldn’t take anymore. And it’s like, why do I want to wait to that point? And I know you don’t think that I’m going to retire.
[02:50] Pele Bennett: No, I don’t. That could be a whole little contest we do if Michael retires from the NFL. So I don’t think Michael will retire because he genuinely loves football. You are passionate about football. You are educated in football. Like you know your stats, you know the history. Like you literally love football. So for you to sit here and tell me that you’re going to retire, I have to see it to believe it.
[03:16] Michael Bennett: I mean, you won’t know until the end that it happens. But I feel like at every point we all have to know the shelf life of certain things, like there’s certain things in life that has a shelf life. And this is one of those things, like, there’s a point where I’ve seen so many people get injured and I see so many people — I’m like I’m blessed. Like, I’ve been blessed to do it at a high level for a long period of time. But it’s like, what else can I be good at? Like, I feel like a lot of times — and no offense to players, but I feel like people just stay in it because they’re scared to like venture off into something else that might have a little bit of failure, a little bit of growth. Like they feel like they grew in this thing this much, why would they want to experience anything else? Because when you experience everything else, you have those ups and downs. And like we had the ups and downs within sports, but we had a team, we had a coach, we had people we could talk to when those ups and downs. Now we going into life with ups and downs. And you have to depend on the people, your family. You have to depend on other people who are not paid to be there for you. It’s like people that are just your family. And I think that’s the thing that I feel like is different.
[04:12] Pele Bennett: But another thing with you retiring from football is that as a family, we are retiring from football. So it’s kind of funny when people ask me, oh, are you ready for Michael to retire? For me if you were to keep playing, I think about it as far as myself as well. I don’t only think of you retiring, think of, OK, the kids are retiring. I’m retiring, like our family, how we function during, you know, football these years has been around football. So like football also is like a very selfish sport. But it has ups and downs, not in like a negative way. But I’m saying that it is a selfish sport as everything revolves around it. And that’s off season as well. And so I think, like when you’re retiring, I’m retiring. The kids are retiring. So how does that lifestyle look when we leave this life?
[04:58] Michael Bennett: That’s the thing about it is the unknown. It’s the fear of it. But also, I feel like you are a great person and I feel that my family is great. I feel like together, like as long as we’re together, we’re able to experience those ups and downs together and be able to depend on each other in a new way. That’s just us. It’s just me and you. this pretty face that you have to live with.
[05:17] Pele Bennett: He’s talking about himself.
[05:19] Michael Bennett: Yeah, I’m talking — well, you have a pretty face, too, but — this pretty face which you have to live with. And am I scared? Of course I’m scared. I’m always scared a little bit of like the unknown. I would be a coward if I got on this podcast and was like, oh, I’m not scared. But there’s points of where I get scared, too. I’m unsure. I don’t know how to feel if I’m going to be able like — I have to retrain myself. I have to redo things. I have to go see — I have to do a whole bunch of new things that I’ve never done before. But I’m okay with it.
[05:46] Pele Bennett: Did you just say, go see a counselor?
[05:47] Michael Bennett: Yeah, I should see a counselor.
[05:48] Pele Bennett: I think that’s a great idea.
[05:50] Michael Bennett: I do. I think everybody — I talked to a couple my friends and they all said that they saw a counselor.
[05:54] Pele Bennett: I also do feel that needing a counselor is amazing because I do feel like there are things that, you know, you need to discuss that you can’t do with certain people. And I do feel also that having a counselor and having someone to speak to, you know, so you can articulate your feelings is really important.
[06:11] Michael Bennett: My thing about seeing a counselor is not so much about walking away from a sport. It’s really about pain. Like, how do I get ready for a life of pain?
[06:19] Pele Bennett: Pain as in mental or physical pain?
[06:22] Michael Bennett: Physical. Like, how do I deal with that? Like there’s gonna be things that like now that I’m young, they feel good. But like, I know that one day my hip is gonna hurt.
[06:30] Pele Bennett: So is that kind of a form of you being selfish if you continue? Like if you say after this year, I’m still going to keep playing. I always tell you it’s like about your health and wellness. Like I would never say — if you’re able, I would never say, oh, don’t stop playing. But if I’m seeing that like, you know, that you’re saying you physically you’re going to be in pain — mentally, there’s other things that go with it — then hell yeah I’m going to be like, you know, stop. You can’t — that’s where the selfishness comes into play. Because as a wife, or the children, like they’re not only looking to you as like a fan would like on the field, they’re living with you. You know, they’re seeing you on it every day in those struggles.
[07:05] Michael Bennett: I feel like sometimes you are trying to do something so selfless that it becomes selfish. And I think at this point, I was like, I want to provide for my family. I want to be able to create all these different things. Then all of a sudden you become selfish, because now the things that I thought that were super important and I achieved those things and now I’m going to injure myself and it becomes selfish because now you have to deal with a broken husband. The kids have to deal with a broken father. So I have to think about those things when I’m weighing them out. And it is hard, but at the same time, also retrain yourself about pain. Like you play in the sport for so long — I talk to guys and like I forgot that this is not normal. Like, you know, like they say like — I’m not used to not having my foot hurt.
[07:47] Pele Bennett: So what about this? Is it selfish if your partner were to tell you that it’s time to stop?
[07:53] Michael Bennett: I don’t think that’s selfish. I think every person that’s involved in a situation can have their opinion about it. But like you said, at the end of the day, if a person’s forcing somebody to do something that they’re uncomfortable with, they’re going to rebel. So it’s like you can say what you want to say, but at the end of the day, you got to be able to allow them to grow. And the thing for me, personally, I want you to be patient with me as I retire. And I want to be patient with you as we transition, because —
[08:19] Pele Bennett: Pray for us.
[08:20] Michael Bennett: I feel like if we’re not patient with each other — like there’s gonna be up and downs, moments where I feel like that I might not be as strong as I used to be. As far as not physically, but mentally, I might be like those points where I feel like I might be breaking down.
[08:31] Pele Bennett: You know what? Now that you’re seeing that how I’m thinking of this, it’s almost like a death. Like retirement is like a death and the heart part with relationships moving forward is the mourning process. And everyone mourns death differently. So your mourning is going to be different from mine. And so that’s where it’s going to be — where we’re really going to stay on the same page and see how we work through all of that today.
[08:58] Michael Bennett: Today in the studio we have retired NFL safety Dawan Landry. His wife, Dominique Lee-Fong Landry and his arms. Yes, I said his arms. They are officially 50-inch biceps. We wanted to bring them on a show because they’re on the other side of the NFL. The side that I shall walk along with Pele across the finish line. On that side is called retirement. Dawan was one of the hardest hitting safeties in the league for the Ravens and the Jaguars and of course, the Jets. Dom is doing her own thing, a mother extraordinaire, and also a businesswoman. They might be us in a few years, so we need time to process the idea of retirement. Who better to ask than Dawan and Dominique Lee-Fong Landry? So today I welcome, yes, Dom and Dawan.
[09:52] Michael Bennett: So first question, Dom, I need you to answer this question. How do you find shirts that fit your husband’s arms? I’m really not really worried about the T-shirts. I’m kind of thinking about the dress shirts. Do you have the dress shirts altered with sheets on the arms, or what do you do?
[10:08] Dominique Landry: Yeah, I usually use curtains or bed sheets. It is pretty tough to dress this guy.
[10:18] Michael Bennett: I want to start off with a real question. What was it like being married in the NFL, having a relationship? Did you have fears of having a broken man after the game as far as injuries and dealing with depression? And how did you overcome the highs and lows of being in the NFL?
[10:35] Dominique Landry: So, yeah, that’s probably a loaded question, very multifaceted answer.
[10:41] Michael Bennett: That’s what we want. We want the juice. We want the facts.
[10:47] Dominique Landry: I think generally speaking — so the first portion of that is, was I afraid I’d have a broken man at the end of this. And I think the answer to that is yes. He suffered a season-ending injury his second year in? Third year in. He got his spinal cord tap and went limp at the game, and was out for the season in his recovery time and having to go through surgeries and the pain he was in — I just was like, it’s not worth it. We both graduated from college. I have a good job. You don’t have to do this. We don’t have to do this. We can call it quits. You made it to the NFL. That was your dream. And so it can be over now and we’d be great. But at the same time, he hadn’t accomplished what he wanted to accomplish. And trying to be supportive of that and supportive of his dream I think it’s just a tough challenge. But I’m glad he was able to bounce back and have a wonderful career after that. But I think the fear is still that with the NFL, you don’t quite know until you know. And so he’s happy and healthy now, and I’m going to pray and I’m just going to speak into existence that that will be continued. But I think it’s also showed that we’ve seen many stories where you’re happy and healthy one minute and then it’s not the second minute. And so I think it’s gonna be probably a present fear, given that he played football since he was, what, six? And had so many hits, and would never come out the game, and was never kind of a person that protected himself or his body. So I think it’s just a present fear that’s ongoing.
[12:07] Pele Bennett: I feel that, too.
[12:10] Michael Bennett: I think that’s everybody. For me personally, I always felt like if you in the game, should you come out? But the competitor in you as an athlete to never come out or to let down your team. But then as you get older in the league, you realize that is not just the team that’s on the field, it’s really the team that’s your family that’s going to be there for a while. So I think the scary part of this for each athlete. And I see Ayesha Curry when her husband falls like crying. Why you crying? He just fell!
[12:40] Dominique Landry: In the NFL, these are real hits. You can tell your husband’s been concussed and he’s still in the game getting his teammates to cover for him for a couple of plays. Like that’s the real that you have to deal with. And, you know, I think especially as more information is coming out on it, you’re kind of like, awww man. You become more and more concerned. It’s simple things where you’re just trying to figure out, like, is this normal? Where I’m like, I told you that yesterday. You don’t remember that conversation? Do you remember? Do you? You’re just looking out for things. You’re just like, OK, is that is that a sign of CC, or is that normal? It’s like you become an Internet detective trying to figure out, OK, is this normal? Or what’s going on?
[13:26] Pele Bennett: So me and Michael, we’ve been together since high school. Can you guys tell me how you guys met? I wanna hear the sweet story.
[13:34] Dominique Landry: Let’s hear your version.
[13:37] Dawan Landry: You don’t like the way I tell the story I’m going to tell.
[13:39] Dominique Landry: I want to hear it. They’re waiting on you.
[13:41] Michael Bennett: It would be just like on that episode of Martin when he saw first saw Gina and she just ran into his arms, that’s how my story would go. Damn, Gina! Damn! No, I want to hear your side of the story.
[14:01] Dominique Landry: So I went to Spelman College and I cheered for Morehouse College. And him and his Georgia Tech teammates would always come looking for the cute girls at Spelman. Is that not what it was?
[14:10] Dawan Landry: That’s not what it was.
[14:14] Dominique Landry: Do you want me to continue? So he and his roommates were at a game that we were cheering at and one of his roommates actually saw one of my best friends in college and went and talked to her and invited a bunch of us over to their dorm room to I think we ended up playing Taboo that night? And it was hilarious. And he was the cutest one there.
[14:36] Dawan Landry: Great answer.
[14:39] Dominique Landry: That was the end of that.
[14:44] Michael Bennett: But isn’t it funny, though, because sometime I told Pele this. When you’re looking at somebody, you start to date them, do you really realize that that person is going to be a part of your life forever? Like Dom and Dawan, did you realize like this was going to be the mother of your kids within that second? Or was it more like a we’d built up to that point?
[15:02] Dawan Landry: I think we built up to that.
[15:07] Dominique Landry: It was not love at first sight kind of situation. He was really quiet and that was really my type. And he would hardly talk. I couldn’t understand his accent.
[15:15] Dawan Landry: That’s what it was. You still don’t understand it.
[15:21] Pele Bennett: Dawan, I want to ask you because Martellus played in the league and he went first, and so every time someone finds out Michael plays or they know him, they always ask about Martellus. So I didn’t know you had a brother playing also. So how was that dynamic growing up playing for you, and then professionally, and then also with your family?
[15:39] Dawan Landry: It was definitely a lesson. My brother — I came out in ‘06, my brother came in in ‘07. And, you know, I’m kind of the brother who is always under the radar. My brother is a big draw. He’s the in-state guy. He went to college in Louisiana. So every time I come home — I went to Georgia Tech for college. I’m kind of the brother who’s — I’m just the LaRon’s brother, so to speak. It’s kind of cool for me, you know, I’m a low-key guy. None of that ever bothered me. But it was more of a blessing for my family not being so close, my first couple of years when I was in Baltimore and my brother, he was in Washington. So for five years, I would pretty much see my parents pretty much every week during the season because the way the schedule was set up when I was home, they would be on a road. So my parents just pretty much switched up each week coming to home games. And that was pretty much a pretty cool factor. My parents were blessed to watch all of the games. They are always at our games from our childhood even to now, you know, is out there always in our lives. That’s been a blessing.
[16:45] Michael Bennett: This is a question for both of you. I’m going to read something to you guys. “The average career is three years, 78 percent of all people go broke two years after retirement, 65 percent of all players leave the game permanently injured.” So the real conversation that I want to have really kind of a race question, too, because it’s based around money. And you and your brother were both in the NFL. And how did you guys have that conversation with money with your family about, look, this is our money. We can’t afford to — we could do simple things that require us and we feel like we have extra income, to give you guys to do something for you. But we can’t be the crutch to hold your family up when we’re trying to be the pillar to hold a roof of our own home. So how did you continuously have that conversation between you as a couple and then having with your family?
[17:33] Dawan Landry: For my family, my parents never, never asked us for anything. It was truly a blessing, to be honest, man. You know, my dad, he’s worked for 35 years. He retired maybe about 10, 15 years ago. My mama, she recently retired maybe about five years ago. Even still, you know, they’re humble people, everyday people and would never ask us for money. So it was always a blessing. You would always get outside family, like distant cousins or things like that, you might get them to want to ask for a couple of dollars here and there. And I would definitely tell them talk to my mom because she’ll tell them no in a heartbeat. That’s been a blessing for us, to be honest.
[18:16] Michael Bennett: So Dom, let me ask you within that same question, do you feel that it’s mostly African-American people who are in these leagues when it comes to money. Do you feel like it’s a conversation about how to maintain the money or the wealth? Even if it’s not family, how do how do you feel about the conversation of money with younger African-American athletes?
[18:36] Dominique Landry: I think it’s kind of unfortunate that the colleges aren’t mandated to teach financial wealth and financial resources to college players, because you got to think you’re giving a young man who may not come from money, tons of it, you know? 19, 20, 21 coming into hundreds of thousands of dollars who do have a family history of people that are in need. And then oftentimes I think just the mindset is to take care of your family, which is not a negative mindset, but I do think there is a certain ways you can do that where I’ve had players who have like 20 people’s cell phones on their bill. And, you know, have a house here and a house there. And I just feel like on some level, if the colleges were preparing them for a world after, you know, they would be thinking about investments and what that looks like. You know, giving them like what to not look for in terms of money managers that are stealing your money and lawyers. I think there’s a piece of it where it’s like making sure that we’re pushing the knowledge of it, but there’s also an aspect of so many people coming in and being taken advantage of because they do not have that knowledge, and they don’t have those resources, and they don’t have the right people looking at their money. So I think there’s a double whammy in terms of just people consistently seeing these young players that don’t know and taking advantage of them from both ends. And I feel like on some level, given that colleges make billions of dollars off of athletes, you know, a portion of that blame can come from them not equipping them properly.
[20:05] Pele Bennett: Well, we have a complete opposite story, financially.
[20:09] Michael Bennett: People ask for money all the time. But I do feel like you almost feel sometimes when you’re an athlete and you reach a certain pinnacle of success, you can feel a little guilt when you look back and you see some of your family members not doing as good as you. So sometimes that guilt factor can guilt trip you into wanting to do more than you really have to do. But you feel like it’s almost like you’re not keeping it real. And I think that sometimes as an athlete, you got to keep it real. Keeping it real, if you watch Dave Chapelle, that shit always got you in trouble.
[20:41] Dominique Landry: And the thing is, I think people forget that the money you guys make in a short amount of time has to last you for your lifetime. So most careers have the opposite effect where you come in, you come in at the low range and then you get to work your way up. You get to work until you’re 65. You can build your retirement. You can have insurance for all those years. You can have all those things. And for football players and athletes, it’s the opposite. You start at the top and then you decline. So whatever you make then is what has to last you for a long time. And if you’re not smart about your investments, you’re not smart about like, where you are using your money, if you’re not smart about saying no, you’re going to be broke and there’s going to be no one that can help you.
[21:20] Pele Bennett: The power of no. It’s so hard.
[21:24] Dominique Landry: We support, you know, like — but we have a limit. None of our parents, none of our siblings are like hounding us for money. And I think those would be the only people we’d feel more inclined to do so. Everyone else we’re like, OK, this is our set, this is what we’re giving to like, you know, foundations or whoever, you know, like whatever it is. When that runs dry, it’s a hard no.
[21:51] Pele Bennett: So, who is better at saying no?
[21:53] Dawan Landry: Definitely Dom.
[21:57] Dominique Landry: I shut everything down.
[21:59] Pele Bennett: Look, can I call you?
[22:00] Dominique Landry: Yes, send them to me. Just dial ‘em in and say, hey, this is Pele’s speaker. No.
[22:12] Michael Bennett: And you know when people want to ask for money, they’ll send you a text message and be like, yeah, I got to call you. Just text me.
[22:19] Dominique Landry: Or they’ll call first. And then you don’t pick up, they’re like call me back. Why? Just say it in text.
[22:30] Dawan Landry: Just say what you want! And then if you go broke, they’re going to be like —
[22:39] Dominique Landry: Yeah, talk about you and how you squandered your money away. He made all those mils. Look at him now, he broke.
[22:55] Michael Bennett: Stay with us. I got to take a shit. I’ll be right back. More and more after this break.
[25:30] Michael Bennett: We’re back.
[25:32] Pele Bennett: I wanted to ask you a question, Dom. And so like I know during like in the NFL as a player, it’s so much attention, it’s so many things pulling at them. And I feel like sometimes the women kind of get lost within that. I’m not saying everyone, but sometimes as a wife, you kind of get lost within all of that. And so I want to know, what’s it difficult to keep your identity, or find your identity through your career in the NFL?
[25:57] Dominique Landry: No, not really, because I think the Dawan is a great example of leading the way and being humble. So I think we’re kind of equally yoked in the fact that we did not really take it too seriously, like it was his job, it was a way to provide for our family. I worked up on in my career all the way and I was an educational nonprofit for up until I had my son. And I literally like delivered him and then sent my exiting email. Like, oop, Landon came early. Like here’s what you guys need to do. So like we were both, I think, very grounded. And it didn’t didn’t take it too seriously. Like we wouldn’t even tell people, you know, when people would see him like, “oh, are you –” and then be like, no, no, no, no, that’s not me. You know? I would never tell people that my husband played football. You would pretty much have to pry it out of me. I guess I felt like I was the star of the family. Who cares if he plays football? Look at what we’re doing over here. So I think I think we didn’t take it seriously. And I think that helped us both during the time and then also during the transition, because, you know, it was just like, OK, next up.
[27:07] Pele Bennett: Wait, did you guys have kids while y’all were before or after? Or in between.
[27:11] Dawan Landry: Toward the end. Our last two years.
[27:16] Pele Bennett: So did that change the dynamic of the relationship within the career?
[27:23] Dawan Landry: I looked at the game a little different after that. I had much more respect for the guys who had kids while they played because I knew it was like a full-time job. Going to practice, games, come home, got to play with your kids. And for me, it was always come home, study film, prepare, work out, things like that. And then when you have kids like ooh, I got another aspect of my life now. When you look at the game, you always going wall to wall in a game. But when you have the kids, like man, I don’t know if I should be — not necessarily not going as hard. But I’m like, I’ve got more to live for after the game.
[28:02] Dominique Landry: I wasn’t enough to live for before.
[28:06] Dawan Landry: We’ve had this discussion. And you got mad.
[28:05] Pele Bennett: I get it. I get it.
[28:09] Michael Bennett: I get what you’re saying, though, because it’s like when you have kids, it’s like when you first lay your eyes on the child that you and your wife created, it just becomes like this whole other world. Because it’s like you guys were individuals and then it becomes a true team. And you have to really raise this child. And you guys are responsible for him. And every time you leave the house, just like you just want to get home. And you’re really thinking about their future. And I think if I’m not there, then how are they going to turn out? So I feel like it’s hard for me to imagine being a father and Pele being a mother. Like, how do people walk away from that experience? And for the NFL, it just becomes harder because you have so many time constraints. But I think it’s a blessing, you know, sometimes Pele is like, do you want the kids to go to the game? Yeah, I want the kids to go to the game. I want them to see what their daddy been through.
[29:05] Michael Bennett: When I think about retiring, I don’t think I’ll be depressed. I don’t think. I think it will be awesome. But I do have the fear of the idle time. And the fear of not knowing. You walk into something new. But in your relationship, how did you guys rekindle or reinvent your relationship when you started to have more time? Did you find it refreshing to really get to know each other over? Or did you find that it was harder to rekindle everything.
[29:34] Dominique Landry: You want me to go first? I think it was a difficult transition. I really did. I tell people all the time, I say I don’t think we were made to see each other like as much as we are. That’s hard for me. It’s still hard for me. Where I’m like, oh, my goodness. What football did was like bring a lot of individual space and time. So he would be away, you know, for games, or away training and doing all those things. And I think my personality, I just like alone time. So if you add on the fact that he’s home all the time, we have additional kids. It is like it’s rough on me. On me. I think he’s living his best life. But me personally, I’m struggling.
[30:25] Dawan Landry: And for me, it was total opposite. You know, I’m a homebody anyway. So, you know, it’s just me being home, and being around the kids, being around her. Nothing changed for me. I still work out all the time.
[30:42] Dominique Landry: He’s there for like five hours a day. Hence the arms.
[30:47] Dawan Landry: Don’t put my business in the street.
[30:48] Dominique Landry: They look good, though, babe. They look good.
[30:49] Dawan Landry: You know, just being around family, I enjoy it, but I can see what she’s saying because the kids are, even when they were younger, they are real clingy to you. I can’t even go into the bathroom or something like that without the kids always looking for her. And then if I’m looking for her —
[31:08] Dominique Landry: All of them. All three of them.
[31:12] Pele Bennett: You’re like, “your dad is sitting right there on the couch.”
[31:15] Dominique Landry: Exactly. But he’s looking for me, too, so it’s literally like all of them. And I’m just trying to hide sometimes. And they always find me.
[31:27] Pele Bennett: No, at bedtime I tell everyone, including Michael, sometimes I’m clocking out. I’m off duty. Nobody is saying my name. Nobody call me. Don’t even say mom. Sometimes the kids, I’m like, just call me by my name because I can’t hear the word “mom” anymore.
[31:40] Dominique Landry: And then at nighttime, I’m like, you know, once you get the kids asleep, I’m just like, you know, and like I’m decompressing from the day, I usually try to do a little bit of work for my business and stuff like that. And he’s like, “you’re not going to sit down and watch TV with me?” And I’m like “no! I don’t even want to be around you! I just want to go to the back and be by myself and eat by myself and watch whatever kind of show I want to watch and be alone.”
[32:11] Michael Bennett: If he said that, how would you feel? If he came home and was like, “I want some alone time. I think I’m gonna go to Paris for a week.”
[32:21] Dominique Landry: I would be like, “have at it. Take the kids.” I would feel just fine. But he gets his alone time and I think that’s difference.
[32:39] Pele Bennett: Michael’s alone time is with me. So my alone time isn’t alone. No, but I get it. When you have so many things going on during the day, you do need that little bit of serenity, wherever it is, but you just need that. And it’s OK to communicate that I need a little bit of alone time. It’s not neglecting the family, you or your needs, or whoever. You need it for yourself.
[33:00] Michael Bennett: Real talk, though, Dawan, what is it really like for retired players like as far as like people who are listening to this podcast and guys who really want to know and they have a fear of being retired. They have a fear of not knowing that they’re going to fall in love. That their kids are going like them. What advice would you give? How did you feel? What was going on through your mind as you chose to walk away from the game?
[33:24] Dawan Landry: Walking away from the game was easy for me because I knew I had my two little ones and I was ready for that chapter of my life. And, you know, I’m not gonna say I’m the best parent because of my son, he tries me every day. And I’m a work in progress with him, you know, but it’s been beautiful for me to see them grow. And I’m growing better as a dad each and every day. And he’s trying to be the best role model for them each and every day. So that’s what keeps me going and has me motivated to just put the football behind me. You know, football is what I did. It’s not who I am. I enjoyed it. I can see my son — he loves sports, so I’m kind of living through him now. I don’t know if my wife wants him to play football or not. She says she doesn’t. But whatever he puts his mind to, I just want to be supportive.
[34:21] Michael Bennett: But that’s funny, because one of our questions that we have for you guys is, would you let your kids play football or soccer or other sports that have concussions in them. And Dom, is one of the reasons why you don’t want your son playing sports is because of the issues of injury? Or is it just you don’t want him playing sports because he’s not a good team player?
[34:38] Dominique Landry: Oh, he’s not a good team player, there’s that. He is a total narcissist. He is competitive to a fault. And he gets it from a lot of us. So he got double the blessing of competitiveness. And so he’s not quite at that team player level, but I know he will get there. We are working on it very hard. I don’t want him to play football specifically. It’s not really all sports. It’s more specifically football. I think there is a political aspect to that. And I think there’s also a physical and just mental aspect to that. I think by and large, on many levels, the NFL shows that it may not care about the players as persons as they should. And I think it comes in the way that, you know, there’s issues with pension plans for older players now that played back in the day, didn’t make a lot of salary and are literally struggling to get money and not have the right insurance for them. And this like, you know, all the issues of, you know, them possibly hiding the information about concussions and things of that nature. So I think there’s just a lot of things that have come up concurrently that shows us that, you know, when you think about like truly caring for people, and thinking about these people that they have families and kids, then you should do better. You should at least be sharing more of the knowledge and you should be thinking about long term, what it means for the people that have been giving their lives to make you billions of dollars. Like what does lifelong health and happiness look like for them? And they’re not doing that.
[36:14] Michael Bennett: Do you miss things about the NFL? And did the politics really affect you as you became older?
[36:19] Indeed. Definitely. So me missing the game, I missed the locker room, you know, just interacting with the guys. You know, being a competitor, you always miss the game, just competing at the highest level. But the day in and day out stuff, just talking to you brothers walking in to the locker room, having fun, playing cornhole or shooting dice, whatever it was you guys did, you know? That’s what you miss the most for me. I kind of fell out of love with the game at the end of my career because, you know, as you get older, you’re going to get the younger guys. We drafted a first-round safety my second year with the Jets. And, you know, when a team is not doing well and the younger guy wasn’t playing, you got to put the young guy in and politics like that. So that was kind of an easy way for me to, like, look at it as time for me to leave.
[37:16] Michael Bennett: What’s interesting about you guys, too, is you guys come from different cultures. Pele is Samoan and we had a blended family. I know you from Louisiana. I’m from Louisiana, too. Louisiana is just like its own little thing, you know.
[37:37] Dominique Landry: You’re from Louisiana? I didn’t know that. What part?
[37:38] Michael Bennett: A town called Amite, Louisiana. Small, small town. We got our own slam, got our own food and having two different cultures, how’s it like growing up in blended family? And did you find, you know, being an African-American man, or of African-American descent, there’s not so many cultural things that we can take from the past. But I feel like when you have someone who’s from a different culture, they have so many things from the past that you kind of look like it’s kind of neat to have that. It kind of gives them like their own path to their ancestors. Do you enjoy having a wife who has a different culture?
[38:12] Dawan Landry: I definitely do, man. You know, her grandfather is Chinese, so totally different background. But, you know, just being around her parents.
[38:22] Dominique Landry: We’re West Indian, so I don’t even really — it’s mostly just the Jamaican. I’m a first generation American, so my parents are Jamaicans on all sides of my family, both mother and father. So it’s always a vibrant time with lots of dancing, lots of rum. And really, really good food. And so I think we can connect on that because of him being from Louisiana, you know, they like to have a good time, too. Everybody’s chill.
[38:56] Dawan Landry: Everybody gets along really well.
[38:56] Dominique Landry: So the wedding was fun because that was the time to kind of bring both cultures together, both in food and in music. So that was fun.
[39:05] Pele Bennett: So now that you guys are out transitioning, what do you both do professionally?
[39:09] Dominique Landry: We both have our own fitness businesses. I do personal training, online coaching and corporate wellness. And then he has a strength coaching business. https://imfitenough.com/. And then he is Two-Six Fit.
[39:24] Pele Bennett: Look, I’m like, sign me up.
[39:27] Dominique Landry: Yeah, come through Pele!
[39:28] Pele Bennett: Everything is online now. It’s so much easier.
[39:34] Michael Bennett: OK. So as we wrap up, we’d like to have this little game we call 30 Second Question. So it’s like Pele says, do you like computers or iPads. You say iPads and you can give your reason why. First question, Pele.
[39:51] Pele Bennett: This is personal: morning or night sex?
[39:56] Dawan Landry: Both.
[40:06] Michael Bennett: Popeye’s sandwich or Chick-fil-A sandwich?
[40:08] Dominique Landry: Chick-fil-A. He’d say Popeye’s.
[40:10] Dawan Landry: I’ve never even had the Popeye’s. I’d say Chick-fil-A.
[40:15] Pele Bennett: Next, when Queenstown, New Zealand or Kingston, Jamaica?
[40:22] Dominique Landry: Kingston, of course.
[40:22] Pele Bennett: Easy. And that was actually written before I knew you were from Jamaica.
[40:27] Michael Bennett: Drake or Soulja Boy?
[40:35] Dominique Landry: Drake.
[40:38] Michael Bennett: Staycation or vacation?
[40:40] Dawan Landry: Vacation.
[40:42] Pele Bennett: Texas football or Louisiana football?
[40:45] Dawan Landry: Louisiana, all day.
[40:46] Michael Bennett: Oh, my God. Cancelled.
[40:51] Dawan Landry: You say you from Amite!
[40:53] Michael Bennett: I grew up in Texas, though.
[40:57] Dawan Landry: And, you know, it’s not the same. It’s not the same. With all due disrespect.
[41:14] Michael Bennett: iPhone or Android?
[41:16] Dawan Landry: IPhone.
[41:20] Pele Bennett: Curls or squats?
[41:22] Dominique Landry: Squats.
[41:25] Michael Bennett: Jerk chicken or oxtail?
[41:28] Dawan Landry: Oxtail
[41:32] Michael Bennett: I’m still laughing at the both, though, morning sex or night sex.
[41:35] Dawan Landry: If you had a C answer, I’d take that one, too.
[41:44] Michael Bennett: I want to thank both of you guys. Want to give a special thanks to Dawan’s arms. I know took a lot to get them through the door. Thank you guys, though, for coming on with us and being real honest.
[41:57] Pele Bennett: Yes. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, your advice. And I love your story of how you guys met and how you keep going strong as a family.
[42:03] Michael Bennett: Imma tell my wife I want both, morning and night.
[42:08] Dawan Landry: All the time.
[42:11] Dominique Landry: Thank y’all for having us. We loved it.
[42:22] Michael Bennett: All right, everybody. It’s that time of the week where we kind of, you know, have our little pro tip, and Pele does her little thing. We respectfully disagree on certain things, but at the same time, we still love each other.
[42:38] Michael Bennett: The pro tip of the week — we just finished with our guests and we were talking about the conversation about money. What is the greatest way to have a conversation with your family about money without being rude, and explaining to them that your money is your money and it’s not their money? My pro tip is just to be completely honest with them. I think it’s really hard as a family member to come into some type of money and not expect for other people to feel like they should have access to that money. So at that point, you need to be able to have a conversation like there’s some things that I’m willing to pay for because it’s out of my own grace, not because you need it. Because sometimes I feel like as an individual, you become a crutch for your family. And, you know, if your lights are getting cut off, that’s a whole other story. But if you like, I want to go to vacation. I want to do all this stuff. I feel like that’s a whole other conversation saw. But I feel like if your family member has taken all the steps to be successful and you want to help them out, that’s on you. But I don’t feel like you should be a crutch for your family.
[43:34] Pele Bennett: I feel like also when you’re in a marriage, and you both have to make decisions on money, sometimes the person on the other end can see the bigger picture through what’s going on in the situation. So you’re able to carefully make a better decision that will benefit not only your spouse, but your family and also where that doesn’t come straining the relationship of the family member that’s needing something. I think sometimes it’s a little selfish when someone does ask for something. You’re asking about me, I, and also I need it now. You know, sometimes when you’re asked for money, it’s oh, you know, there’s something that’s going to happen eventually in three months that I’ll need this, or I’ll be able to pay you back. It’s always right now, like I need X amount, but I need it right now. And then if you don’t, then you’re also ridiculed because you’re like, oh, you have so much and you don’t want to give.
[44:25] Michael Bennett: And that’s the thing, too, because it’s like an immediate action in was like, I need you to — I can’t use Venmo. So I can’t use Cash app. I can’t use Quickbooks. I need you to go to Walmart and wire the money. I’d like people to wire money no more from Walmart.
[44:37] Pele Bennett: But that’s where the selfishness is that they don’t understand that we’re having our everyday lives, whether it’s work, family, you know, just other stuff that we’re doing that we have to drop everything because they’re having a crisis.
[44:47] Michael Bennett: And so the pro tip this week is not to feel guilty about when people ask for money and you just cannot do it. If you can do it, just do what’s within your means. Don’t feel guilty. Or don’t feel shame because you can’t help the people the way that you want to help them or they’re asking for too much. Do what you can and continue to move on. Like Pele says, sometimes people ask for things that they don’t even really need. They just know you got it. So they don’t want to have to work for it. In the words of Lauryn Hill, everybody want to go until you tell them about the price that you pay to get where you’re going. I’m done. Thank you, Lauryn Hill.
[45:24] Pele Bennett: That’s it. Please come back next week for another episode of Mouthpeace.
[45:41] Michael Bennett: On next week’s episode, we’re joined by the great John Carlos. Did you hear me? The great John Carlos. He’s probably most famous for raising his fist high above his head as he stood at the podium in the 1968 Olympics in a powerful show of solidarity with the Black Panther movement. People, it is John Carlos. Make sure you tune in. I don’t care where you at. Make sure you tune in.
[46:09] Michael Bennett: Please subscribe to us or like us on anything that you’re listening to. Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, whatever you’re listening to get away from your family, whoever you don’t want to be around. And make sure you rate us or give us a comment. Even though we don’t give a fuck about your comments, give us a comment. Mouthpeace is a production of Lemonada Media, which you can find online on all social platforms @LemonadaMedia. You can follow me on social media, @MosesBread72. I love bread, and biblically, I always thought I was Moses.
[46:39] Pele Bennett: And you can follow me on Instagram at @pelepels. Mouthpeace with Michael and Pele Bennett is executive produced by us, the Bennetts. Our Lemonada Media executive producer is Eli Kramer, and our producer is Genevieve Garrity. Our assistant producer is Claire Jones and our audio is edited by Bryan Castillo. Thank you to our ad sales and distribution partners at Westwood One, and to all of our sponsors for making this show possible.