Is Marriage Good for the NFL? - OZY | A Modern Media Company

Is Marriage Good for the NFL?

Is Marriage Good for the NFL?

By Nathan Siegel



Because if you’re looking for an edge, you might just find it in a white dress or tuxedo. 

By Nathan Siegel

If you’ve ever been any kind of athlete, you’ve probably heard this age-old coach’s decree: Stay away from women! They’re a distraction! A close second: Sex before a game makes you weak. Indeed, in the world of sports, anything less than sleeping, breathing and eating said sport is straight-up blaspheming. Take heart, all you sad, celibate football/baseball/rugby players: Research and pro athletes agree that discouraging romance is foul play. 

While there hasn’t been a study correlating an athlete’s success with his or her marital status, a host of other research suggests that married men and women are better at life in general. They have healthier minds and bodies than their single counterparts, for one. A big part of which may be that men in a relationship drink significant less alcohol. Could also be because they have far more sex. And it’s no stretch of the hamstrings or the imagination to wager that athletes in better shape and sound mind are gonna score more touchdowns. Donté Stallworth, a former wide receiver in the NFL, couldn’t agree more that a good love life means good workdays. Though he’s never been married, Stallworth was in a relationship in 2011 and recognized “without a doubt,” how much better and well-rested he felt.


Especially for younger players, Friday and Saturday night clubbing till the early morning, and grabbing few hours of sleep before tipoff or kickoff, is routine. Even the weekdays aren’t off limits to some for partying, says Stallworth. But they’ll pay the price eventually: “Guys that go out to clubs don’t last long,” he says. That’s because in sports, your body is your livelihood. And guess what you do instead of partying when you’re married: dinner and tv, put the kids to bed and any number of things that don’t involve getting wasted till dawn. 

Granted, not all marriages are smooth sailing, especially for professional athletes. There’s the grueling travel schedule, money and the temptation of … fans — as well as Coach Hardass that thinks women make male players teddy-bear soft. All that being said, maybe it’s not so surprising that divorce rates among professional athletes are so high: 

about 10-30 percent higher than the general population. 

And if you’re in a shitty marriage, it’s likely that your performance will take a greater hit than if you were living the single, club-rat life, says Brian Gearity, director of sports coaching the University of Denver.

But if players are all smiles at home, they’re probably more likely to get it right on the field, court, pool, whatever. I mean, four of the last six Super Bowl MVPs were married, and a fifth has a girlfriend — what more proof do you need?

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