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And they do a little dance on the catwalk

By JAY CRIDLIN
Published February 5, 2005


JACKSONVILLE - It's not easy being an NFL wife. Ask Jacqueline Rice.

"Sometimes you go about life just doing things for others, taking care of everyone else's needs but yourself," the wife of Seahawks receiver Jerry Rice said. "Being married to a player, period, is hard work. But being married to a player that's been in the league for 20 years, that's definitely hard work."

That drew a round of applause from her audience, which included Pat (wife of Emmitt) Smith, Sandy (wife of Michael) Irvin and Sherice (wife of Tim) Brown.

On Friday the women took center stage at the fourth annual Players' Wives Fashion Extravaganza, a high-dollar charity fashion show aboard the Carnival Miracle cruise ship.

And when we say the women took center stage, we mean it literally. Rice and Brown donned spring wear from the Parisian clothing line and paraded down the catwalk in the ship's theater, packed with people and players who paid up to $500 a ticket.

Conceived by Sherice Brown in 2002, the extravaganza also featured a silent auction of memorabilia and luxury getaway packages to benefit Total Renaissance Women, a charity for young women, and the DePaul School, which caters to Jacksonville area students with visual and auditory learning disabilities.

"It's good to see the wives get together and do something very positive," said receiver Tim Brown, who played for the Bucs in 2004. "So many times they get overlooked, and their hearts are just as big as the athletes who go out there and do charity work."

The event drew celebrities, including supermodel Kim Alexis and actor Jane Seymour. A handful of athletes, including Ravens receiver Travis Taylor and Packers punter Bryan Barker, watched their wives and children strut. Jerry Rice was there to see his wife as well as daughter Jaqui's girl band, Sorella.

And some men were just on their own.

"I came to meet and greet and ended up spending money on my wife," retired safety Corey Harris said early Friday morning. "She's still in the bed."

It was certainly a big day for Delores Barr Weaver and her husband, Wayne, who owns the Jacksonville Jaguars and was instrumental in securing the city's Super Bowl bid.

Not only did Weaver receive an award from the players' wives for her charitable work, Friday was the Weavers' 50th anniversary.

"I just want to know how you did that," said Seymour, who hosted the event with her husband, director James Keach. "Was it that you let your husband own a football team?"

Wayne Weaver said the Super Bowl has brought more fundraising events to his city than he'd imagined.

"The leave behind from this Super Bowl is incredible - so many charity events, and so many people volunteering and working hard to raise money for a good cause," he said.

Off the runway the players' wives wore fur, leather and designer fashions, from Roberto Cavalli to Christian Lacroix to Louis Vuitton. "Joe's wearing the Gap," Barker said, gesturing at the Jaguars' Joseph Zelenka.

But those who took the stage knew the focus was on the charities. When honoree Julie Buckley, a Jacksonville pediatrician, took the stage to speak, she asked parents with autistic children to stand. Dozens did.

"Sometimes you just do these things from the bottom of your heart," Jacqueline Rice said.

Jay Cridlin can be reached at cridlin@sptimes.com