Whenever you're next getting infuriated by a sports star going on about “how tough they have it”, spare a thought for Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Not many everyday folk find themselves splashed across the newspapers because their significant other left a massive gun behind in a rental car:
In fairness to Tannehill, the massive shooter his wife Lauren left behind was his legally-licensed hunting rifle - though we're not quite sure how long he'll keep that licence for, given his wife's carelessness with a firearm that looks like it could down a Boeing 747. Needless to say, Tannehill suffered plenty of embarrassment as media sources and gossip-hungry readers went mad over the peculiar turn of events.
The Tannehills had it relatively light, though. Lauren’s lapse pales in comparison to some of the things sporting spouses have done to their well-known loved ones. Here's our list of the craziest WAGs and HABs (husbands and boyfriends) that have encumbered sports stars over the years.
Chris Froome/Michelle Cound and Bradley Wiggins/Cath Wiggins
Britain’s Tour de France-winning star cyclists have only recently resolved a long-standing dispute over bonuses and their respective standings within Team Sky. Those problems started relatively small, but were escalated into all-out war by their respective loved ones, who took to Twitter on several occasions to stick up for their men.
Maxi Lopez/Mauro Icardi/Wanda Nara
Former Barcelona and Milan striker Lopez and wife Nara split when his fellow Argentine and close friend of the couple, Inter Milan’s Icardi, revealed that he and the model were “in love”. Diego Maradona was the pick of many to chime in on the love triangle, claiming that in his day the rest of the squad would have “taken turns to give Icardi a kicking”.
Tom Dinkel/Jeni Lee Dinkel
Jeni Lee Dinkel's police mugshot
Stalwart Cinncinati Bengals linebacker Dinkel’s online name-searches surged when his 51-year-old wife had an affair with a 15-year-old classmate of their teenage son. Jeni Lee was convicted of statutory rape, due to his age, before being investigated for allegedly assaulting the boy’s mother at a musical.
David Beckham/Victoria Beckham
On the surface the Beckhams have a highly-successful and very happy family, the odd tabloid controversy aside. But according to David’s manager at Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson, his relationship with Victoria meant the midfielder “lost the chance to become an absolute top-dog player.” Fergie also said: “The big problem for me...he fell in love with Victoria. And that changed everything," going on to blame the former Spice Girl for turning a talented footballer into a fame-hungry superstar.
David Unsworth and his wife
Unsworth left West Ham and signed for Aston Villa in 1998 after failing to settle in London and wanting a move back closer to Merseyside, where he'd spent his former years at Everton. Yet just seven days in Birmingham he'd decided he'd had enough - or rather, his wife did, insisting that she would not relocate their two children to the Midlands. Everton, amazingly, played ball by paying the same £3m that Villa had paid - though then-Villa boss wasn't happy. John Gregory fumed: “We all know who wears the trousers in that house”. In 2005 Unsworth pleaded guilty to drink-driving after a row with his wife in a restaurant.
Paula Radcliffe/Gary Lough
When Radcliffe narrowly missed out on the 10,000m podium at the 2001 World Athletics Championships in Canada, a devastated Paula came off the track in tears - only to be greeted by her coach, manager and husband Gary Lough angrily berating her at trackside for using the wrong tactics. It earned Lough a tabloid reputation as something of a monster, though the fact that the two are still together and have a couple of kids suggests that he must have done some serious apologising for having a go at his partner in a very public way that day.
John Daly/Sherrie Daly
Golfer John met Sherrie in 2001 at a tournament and married her seven weeks later. One week after she gave birth to their son, John Jr, Sherrie and her parents were indicted on drug ring and illegal gambling charges. After spending five months inside, Sherrie reconciled with John - before reportedly trying to maim him with a steak knife. She later wrote a warts-and-all book about her years with 'Wild Thing' - and while she admitted many crimes and misdemeanours, she insists that she did not stab the former Open champion.
Michelle Smith/ Erik De Bruin
Ireland’s Smith won three swimming gold medals and a bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Her sudden rise to the top of her field at a relatively-advanced age was put down to the training and diet Dutch husband De Bruin implemented for her. In 1998, suspicious governing bodies found out that the “diet” consisted of banned substances. She was never stripped of her medals, but her reputation was in tatters.
Wayne Gretzky/Janet Jones
The wife of the NHL legend was implicated in a million-dollar nationwide sports gambling ring in the US, which she was reportedly lured into after mounting up $2 million in betting debts.
Andre Rison/Lisa ‘Left-Eye’ Lopes
OK, so the late rapper and star of girl band TLC had reason to be furious with then-Atlanta Falcons star Rison for cheating on her, but her bid for vengeance backfired spectacularly when Lopes drunkenly burned down his million-dollar home trying to just destroy his trainers. That added a very-public five years probation and a stint in rehab to her private heartbreak.
Sometimes, behaviour such as this is balanced out finely when sports stars get romantic with each other and appear to have a mutually-negative influence. Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery, Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert, Peter and Liz McColgan and, more recently, the declining form of Rory McIlroy and Caroline Wozniacki are such examples. The latter couple, in fairness, at least appear blissful away from sport even if they struggle to reach prior heights on the greens or the courts.
Do you recall other famous instances, whether scandalous, tragic or just humorously small, to add to the list? Let us know in the comments section below.
- Sports & Recreation
- David Unsworth