Baltimore Ravens running back Willis McGahee anticipated there would be some "haters" when he accepted Kandi Burruss' invitation to appear on the third season of Bravo's 'Real Housewives of Atlanta,' but never did he imagine that the scrutiny would be as outrageous as has been since the show premiered on Oct. 4.
"I was expecting a little flack, but I wasn't expecting for it to be like this and have everybody trying to dig up dirt on you and posting all of these comments. I'm from Miami so I've been through this. I've been hated on by girls, and dudes hating on me because of the girls. It's been like this all of my life. I think I was made for this for some strange reason," McGahee told this columnist, during our exclusive interview over dinner at Carolina Kitchen in Largo, Maryland.
The 28-year-old athlete, who began dating Burruss in late 2009 – months before the former Xscape singer began shooting her second season on the show -- acknowledged that while he's equipped to deal with the pressure of being on TV, bringing his children into the mix crosses the line.
"I'm very private about my personal life, and I don't like talking about my children. People are just trying to find out who they are and things like that," he said.
McGahee confessed that when he first got his NFL contract in 2003, he went through a period of being a "stereotypical athlete" and entertained his fair share of women.
"I was younger back then, and I had fun. I can't deny that, and everybody knows that," he admitted.
Though some blogs have claimed the Miami native has as many seven kids, McGahee said those reports are all bogus.
"I have a nice handful," he laughed. "But it's way under seven. It's nowhere near seven!"
McGahee is apparently the father of five children – the first three were born over a span of two years, shortly after he was drafted in the NFL by the Buffalo Bills.
"I was just involved with each of my children's mothers for so long. Each one was over two or three years. I just had a nice rotation, however that is over now, and I don't get down like that anymore," he explained.
The football star disclosed that because of his past reputation, women – some he's never met – accuse him of fathering children on an annual basis.
"I get planted with a baby every year. I've been accused of having kids that aren't mine," he laughed.
McGahee said the story that he has a "baby mama living with him" is completely fabricated.
"I don't live with my baby's mother. I don't have any baby in Maryland. I've been staying by myself for the three years that I've been here," he clarified.
"Kandi didn't come in and wreck any home," he continued. "I didn't have a baby mama staying with me when I met her. I'm not married, engaged or anything like that. It's just a shame that people are accusing her of doing things like that. Now they're trying to throw me in it, and put my kids into it. I've seen on the Internet that they even have my child's mother on there. That is just uncalled for."
In addition to the many erroneous stories being reported online, McGahee expressed that he was particularly annoyed by being pegged an "opportunist" by talk show host Wendy Williams, who said on the 'The Wendy Williams Show' that she believed McGahee was "only dating Kandi so he could be on TV."
"I find it real funny just because she said I'm an opportunist. I have my own money! I'm in the NFL so I''m on TV every week! I've done commercials and interviews, and I don't have a problem putting my own self out there. I don't need another woman to help me with that. People are gonna think what they want to think. They think I'm a bad guy right now. Once they get to know me, they'll know that I'm not a bad guy. They're just on the outside looking in," he said.
McGahee definitely has his own money. It's widely known that he is one of the highest-paid running backs in the NFL, and his seven-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens is worth more than $40 million.
The athlete also has a foundation, the Willis McGahee Foundation, which provided backpacks and school supplies for more than 350 children this past August.
McGahee is also helping Joe Sclafani, a former football player and Ravens fan who suffered from a rare condition that caused him to become a quadriplegic. The athlete is giving Sclafani a home makeover so that his residence is accessible to his needs and offers him the mobility to be able to play with his children.
"But those are the kind of stories that are overlooked by all this negative attention," he pointed out.
Nonetheless, McGahee declared he is a good father who does not have any issues with his children's mothers. He's not sure who is the culprit behind the smear campaign to tarnish his reputation and doesn't suspect any of his kid's mothers would do such a thing.
"I'm trying to get to the source of who's doing this so maybe we can talk it over and see what's going on. If that doesn't work, I might have to seek out some legal advice," he confessed.
As for the personal photos that are floating around online, he added: "I'm trying to find out right now how they're getting out. None of the pictures are on my Facebook page. I don't even have those photos."
In the end, McGahee wants people to realize that while spreading erroneous rumors about him may make for great gossip headlines, it ultimately has an affect on his children.
"It can traumatize them just because they're hearing their daddy's name on the radio blasted, talking about this child and that child. That's something that you don't want them to hear because it can sink into their memory, and it can stay with them for the rest of their lives. Things might not work out for them," he emoted.
McGahee said that although people think they know Burruss from watching her on the 'Real Housewives of Atlanta,' there's a side to her that's more real than reality TV could ever capture.
"The attraction to Kandi is just her attitude and her demeanor. I like the way she carries herself, and she's a real cool person. Once you get to know her, you know that she's even cooler than she is on TV," he closed.
McGahee has vowed not to grant any other interviews related to Burruss or the countless rumors surrounding his children.Click here to order Willis McGahee’s proCane Rookie Card.