In any sport, it’s an athlete’s responsibility to block out distractions and focus on the game/shot/play/task at hand. That may seem easy enough, particularly for multi-millionaires who tend to have their every whim catered to, but the constant pressure, burdensome expectations and many demands of fans, media, friends and family can be a lot to handle.
When your significant other also happens to be in the public eye? Now, that just adds another layer of chaotic attention and spotlight to the mix. Don’t get me wrong – these are people who have consciously chosen their partners while knowing perfectly well what they were getting into, and no one is going to shed a tear of sympathy for young, wealthy, famous and often attractive lovebird pairings.
Still, these jet-setting, ever-changing lives don’t exactly make romance easy. From external pressure to clashing schedules to time demands to globe-trotting and everything in between, it’s gotta be pretty tough for a professional athlete and a renowned celebrity to find love. No wonder so many partnerships fizzle out.
To be fair, many athlete/celebrity couples have enjoyed a successful, prosperous love life together. Heck, some of the couples on this list remain together to this day. But in each case, be it by forces karmic or legitimate in nature, these pairings have spelled doom (or at least career low points) for the athletes involved.
10. Justin Verlander (Kate Upton)
In 2011, the Detroit Tigers ace won both the Cy Young and AL MVP awards for what was an all-time dominant pitching season. In early 2012, things got even better for Justin Verlander as he began dating supermodel Kate Upton. While the two reportedly continue to go strong (in spite of a marriage proposal stumble earlier this year), Verlander’s performance has waned in every season since, going from a 2.40 ERA in 2011 up to 4.54 in 2014. As Verlander goes from the best pitcher in baseball to probably the No. 3 starter on his own team, that $180 million contract he signed in 2013 looks disastrous. Still, worth it!
9. Brooks Laich (Julianne Hough)
Probably the least-known couple on this list, the Washington Capitals center and the Dancing with the Stars breakout talent began dating in December 2013. While Brooks Laich’s personal life (and Q rating) got a big boost, his hockey career went into an injury-laden spiral. After averaging 20 goals and 48 points over five seasons between 2007 and 2012, Laich has managed a total (!!!) of 14 goals and 33 points in the three seasons since. True, groin and shoulder injuries have had more to do with Laich’s struggles than Hough has, but it’s awfully curious timing, no?
8. Aaron Rodgers (Olivia Munn)
The notion that the Newsroom star ‘ruined’ the star quarterback for the Green Bay Packers is less a piece of relevant, current information and more a tongue-in-cheek nod to an early season bit of over-reaction from the Packer faithful. After a (gasp!) 1-2 start to the season, Green Bay fans were quick to point a finger of blame at Olivia Munn, who began dating Aaron Rodgers in May 2014 after meeting at an awards show, through social media. The team ultimately went 12-4 and reached the NFC title game, leaving absolutely nothing left to blame her for.
7. Dion Phaneuf (Elisha Cuthbert)
As the best defenseman and the captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs, one of the NHL’s most rabid fan bases and a perennial loser, Dion Phaneuf was going to draw plenty of attention under any circumstances after he was acquired in 2010. Then, he got a fat contract and served as the surly face of a bottom feeder franchise. While fans don’t necessarily blame his wife, Old School star Elisha Cuthbert, she has taken some flak by proxy. It doesn’t help that the pair has been plagued by a vicious rumor that Cuthbert has been cheating on Phaneuf with his teammate, Joffrey Lupul.
6. Matt Kemp (Rihanna)
The then-L.A. Dodger star and the hip hop superstar began dating in November 2009 and stuck it out until December 2010, a stretch that happened to coincide with Kemp’s career-low 2010 season. That year, Kemp saw a dip in runs and RBI while seeing his batting average fall nearly 50 points to .249, 43 points lower than his .292 career average. Once the relationship, which Rihanna described as “so easy” fizzled out, Kemp quickly returned to form with an All-Star season that produced career-highs in runs, RBI and home runs and resulted in a No. 2 finish in NL MVP voting.
5. Caroline Wozniacki (Rory McIlroy)
Here, we have a little gender role reversal going on. The relationship between tennis star Caroline Wozniacki and No. 1 golfer Rory McIlroy is best known for McIlroy blind-siding Wozniacki by calling it quits after the duo’s wedding invitations went out, but it also coincided with a down-turn in the talented Dane’s tennis game. Wozniacki dropped out of the top 10 rankings within months of their July 2011 courtship and won just three titles in the first two years of their relationship after winning three in the five months prior. Sure enough, she would go on to reach the finals of the US Open soon after getting dumped.
4. Kris Humphries (Kim Kardashian)
In a purely numerical sense, journeyman NBA’er Kris Humphries got a major boost from his much-buzzed-about romance – and 72-hour marriage – with the now-Mrs. Kanye West. Albeit partially due to the end of his controlled rookie contract, Humphries has made about $40 million post-Kardashian after earning about $19 million in six seasons prior to the relationship. But that doesn’t account for Humphries going from also-ran status to public enemy No. 1 with fans who didn’t approve of the couple’s 72-hour marriage and how the NBA big man came off on the duo’s short-lived reality show.
3. Alex Rodriguez (Kate Hudson/Cameron Diaz/Madonna)
A-Rod‘s name is basically a joke among baseball fans now, who know him as a cheater, liar and steroid-abuser who doesn’t seem to have a shred of self-awareness. And yet, none of it seems to have hurt him in the love department, where he has found comfort in the arms of Madonna, Cameron Diaz, Kate Hudson and former WWE Diva Torrie Wilson over the years. All these relationships have occurred since 2008, a time when Rodriguez divorced Cynthia Scurtis and things started to unravel for the Yankees star on the diamond. Since ’08, the three-time MVP has just two All-Star appearances after making 12 in 15 seasons prior.
2. Tony Romo (Jessica Simpson)
It didn’t take long for the ‘Jessica Simpson is no good for Tony Romo‘ narrative to take hold among fans of Romo’s Dallas Cowboys. Just weeks after they began dating in November 2007, Cowboys fans were quick to blame an in-the-stands Simpson for Romo’s poor performance in a Thanksgiving Day game against the New York Jets (a game that the Cowboys won, no less). Things got even sillier in the playoffs that year, when the pair had the gall to jet off to Cabo on a bye week prior to a post-season clash against the New York Giants, bringing more heat (both literal and figurative) on Romo and his famous gal pal.
1. Lamar Odom (Khloe Kardashian)
Bold article titles aside, none of the wealthy athletes on this list have actually had their lives ruined by the celebrity they became romantically involved with, although former Laker star Lamar Odom comes close. The former Mr. Khloe Kardashian not only went from two NBA titles and 12 consecutive years of double digit scoring averages to two awful seasons and a swift exit from basketball, but he also saw his off-court life unravel thanks to a DUI conviction and widespread rumors of drug abuse. Even worse, much of his downward spiral occurred on camera as part of the couple’s reality show, Khloe & Lamar.
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