Football and romance are not exactly two words you often hear in the same conversation, but hear me out: Believing in your team with an unconditional, unbending loyalty is not unlike a relationship. Not to mention, the sport requires teamwork, patience, passion, and of course, a lot of physical contact. So it’s no surprise that there's a plethora of
famous football couples. And no, I’m not just talking about Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen (although, TBH, #goals). Sure, they have a combined net worth of about $580 million, two beautiful children, and seemingly unparalleled devotion to each other. But they’re not the only power couple in the league.
In fact, many pros have found love while playing for the NFL. Case in point:
Jay Cutler and Kristin Cavallari, who began dating long-distance back in fall 2010 while he was playing for the Chicago Bears. Mere months later, in spring 2011, the quarterback proposed to the star of The Hills. The couple tied the knot in 2013 and now have three (very stylish) children. Then there’s Kerry Washington and former cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who also wed in 2013 and have two kids together. Now, Asomugha is producing the Scandal star’s Broadway show American Son — because couples who work on creative passion projects together stay together, right?
There’s certainly no shortage of famous football couples, but as Super Bowl Sunday fast approaches, here are a handful that make us believe in love (and the league) again.
Rob Gronkowski & Camille Kostek
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Just because Tom and Gisele aren’t on this list doesn’t mean I’m going to leave the Patriots out altogether. Besides,
this power couple worked on the same field — Kostek as a cheerleader and Gronkowski as the fun-loving Pats tight end.
But according to E! Online, the duo didn't link up until after
Kostek had already resigned from cheerleading in spring 2015 to pursue modeling. Since then, the two have made regular appearances on each other’s Instagram accounts, with Kostek even playfully trolling him on National Boyfriend Day. They even work out together, folks. Kostek has obviously cheered on Gronk, both on the field and in the stands (in freezing cold temperatures, I might add), but Gronk also showed his support of his supermodel GF when she managed to make the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, saying, “She's always been putting in the work… she definitely deserves it.”
And Kostek definitely has his back, too. When
TMZ approached her about why people are so bitter about the New England Patriots making it into the Super Bowl yet again, she responded simply: "You hate us 'cause you ain't us.” Now that’s loyalty. Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Once upon a time, a pro soccer player married a professional football tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles. Sounds like a sports fairytale, right? Well, it’s a real-life love story for Julie and Zach Ertz, who have been married since March 2017. The couple
met at a college baseball game, and after Julie won the Women's World Cup in 2012, Zach sent over a congratulatory text. She soon returned the supportive gesture when he made a touchdown during a football game, and the rest is history — by 2017, they were saying “I do.”
In an interview with ESPN, they admitted they
still push each other to succeed in their respective sports. Meanwhile, they also do yoga and Pilates together to stay on their strength and flexibility game.
Not to mention, the couple shares a passion for philanthropy as well. In June 2018, they launched the Ertz Family Foundation, and have
raised more than $200,000 to support their mission of providing sports opportunities for youth, empowering students, improving education, and building communities in Philadelphia, Haiti, and the Bay Area. Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
During a press conference around Thanksgiving 2018, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was
asked what he’s grateful for. His response? “I’m thankful for love, thankful for my wife — who she is and the person she is and what she means to our family. I thank her for kids. I’ve always wanted to have kids. I’ve always loved children… I knew I was going to have kids at some point in my lifetime but I never knew that it was gonna be the greatest miracle that I would ever experience… You realize that they change your life so hopefully, I can always make an impact in their lives. Hopefully, I can always show them what love looks like.” Basically — Wilson and Ciara are #relationshipgoals.
The couple began dating in 2015, tied the knot the following year, and had their first child together in April 2017. They announced their engagement right after the pro football player surprised Ciara with a luxurious getaway to the Seychelles islands, and were married just three months after he proposed. And talk about
a star-studded wedding: Kelly Rowland and Serena Williams were among the bridesmaids.
And while they already seem to have a rock-solid bond, the couple is apparently always eager to strengthen it however they can. Ciara told
People that her main New Year’s resolution for 2019 was to focus on “leveling up” their love despite their hectic work schedules.
Colin Kaepernick & Nessa Diab
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Radio personality and MTV
Girl Code host Nessa Diab doesn’t just support Colin Kaepernick in his NFL career, she also stands by the quarterback in his endeavors to put a stop to racial injustice.
The couple, who
officially confirmed their relationship in February 2016, seem to have started dating back in 2015. In 2016, Kaepernick first kneeled during the national anthem as a gesture to support the Black Lives Matter movement. When Kaepernick became a free agent in 2017, he filed a grievance against the NFL accusing team owners of colluding to prevent him from being signed. Diab has continued to stand up for his decision in the name of activism. In 2017, Kaepernick was named GQ’s Citizen of the Year.
In the issue, Diab explained why the NFL free agent deserved the award, saying, “Colin has always been helping people, he has always been involved because he has empathy… I'm very fortunate that I have Colin next to me. It's everything. We love each other, we care for each other, and we have to remind each other that, hey, we're doing our part, we're trying to make a difference."
This isn’t just a famous football couple — it’s a couple that works together to
raise awareness about police brutality.
Eli Manning & Abby McGrew
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Eli Manning and Abby McGrew aren't just one of the NFL's most powerful couples. They're also college sweethearts. The New York Giants quarterback and fashion account executive met back in 2002
while they were both attending the University of Mississippi.
New Orleans Magazine, in 2007, Manning designed a custom engagement ring with emerald-cut diamonds for McGrew before proposing on a Tuesday night alone together. They tied the knot in April 2008, and the couple had much to celebrate — not only a future together but also Manning's first Super Bowl win.
When the couple isn't spending quality time with their three daughters, they're often involved in philanthropic work, such as with New York’s St. Vincent’s Hospital, where they
helped fund the development of a holistic birthing center.
Sterling Shepard & Chanel Iman
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Sterling Shepard, wide receiver for the New York Giants, and Victoria's Secret model Chanel Iman are a power couple to be reckoned with. They met at former-Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz's 30th birthday party in New York City in 2016. "I approached her and asked her if she wanted a drink, and then we were just talking for the rest of the party, and then we went to some club for the after-party and kept talking,"
Shepard told in 2019. "I got her number, and we went our own separate ways, but we stayed in contact. It was kind of crazy. And now that's my lady!" Haute Living
engaged in December 2017, married in Los Angeles in March 2018, and welcomed their daughter Cali five months later. Iman recently gave birth to their second daughter, Cassie, in December 2019.
Andrew East & Shawn Johnson
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NFL free agent
Andrew East and former Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson met in 2012 through East's brother Guy, the Tennessean reports. Johnson was in London for the Olympics and met Guy through a friend, who then introduced her to his brother Andrew who played for a number of NFL teams, most recently the Washington Redskins until 2019. In June 2013, Johnson visited East in Nashville and they had their first official date: a Vanderbilt baseball game. She moved to Nashville shortly after and got engaged to East in July 2015. They said "I do" in April 2016 in a beautiful wedding in Tennessee, and over a year later, in October 2017, they posted an emotional Youtube video announcing Johnson had been pregnant with their first child and suffered a miscarriage shortly after finding out.
But in happier news, the couple welcomed their first baby in November 2019 — a little girl they named Drew Hazel East. Yes,
she is absolutely precious. Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc/Getty Images JJ Watt and Kealia Ohai are a sports power couple. Watt is a defensive end for the Houston Texans, and Ohai is a forward for the Chicago Red Stars soccer team. According to People, they met through Brian Cushing, Ohai's brother-in-law and Watt's former Houston Texans teammate. They got engaged in May 2019 after dating for three years, and TBH, you probably will not find a more supportive couple. Even though they kept the beginning of their relationship on the DL, they are now super vocal about their love for each other on Instagram, constantly posting about each other and cheering each other on in their respective sports from the sidelines.
The moral of the story is this: Tom and Gisele may take the cake when it comes to high-profile celebrity and glamour, but they're not the only NFL power couple to take note of. Plenty of other pros have found true love in between touchdowns. And with both Super Bowl Sunday and Valentine's Day fast approaching, it's high time to recognize the romance that keeps these players passionate on the field.