As some pro athletes do battle, their wives and girlfriends prattle
By RICHARD ROEPER January 22, 2013 7:18PM
Updated: February 24, 2013 6:29AM
Nearly every guy in the world has been there.
You’re driving home in tense silence from the dinner party or the wedding or that company function — until she says, “What?” and you say, “Why did you have to start up with all that business? I can fight my own battles. You made me look like a total sissy.”
Only we don’t say “sissy.”
The Outspoken Wife (or Outspoken Girlfriend) was once something of a stock character in Westerns and B-movies. She’d mouth off to a gangster or some other villain, maybe even slap him in the face, and the bad guy would tell her husband, “You better learn how to control your woman.”
As if the guy stood a chance.
These days the Outspoken Wife (or Outspoken Ex-Wife) is most often seen on “reality TV,” threatening to throw a glass of chardonnay at another Outspoken Wife as they duel over who said what about the other’s plastic surgery.
We also see (and hear) a lot from Outspoken Wives in the sporting arena. (Sometimes they’re known as WAGs, for Wives and/or Girlfriends. Let’s just call them OSO’s, for Outspoken Significant Others.)
The latest OSO to cause a stir is Anna Burns Welker, wife of Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker. After the Baltimore Ravens knocked off her hubby’s team in the AFC Championship Game, Anna took to Facebook to vent her frustration.
“Proud of my husband and the Pats,” she posted. “By the way, if anyone is bored, please go to Ray Lewis’ Wikipedia page. 6 kids 4 wives. Acquitted for murder. Paid a family off. Yay. What a hall of fame player! A true role model!”
Apparently Anna’s Facebook Status was “Boiling.”
Real Housewives of Pro Sports
(Sidebar: Mrs. Welker, a former Miss Hooters International, was of course referring to Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, he of the pro wrestler entrances and the bone-crunching tackles — and the infamous brawl at a Super Bowl party on Jan. 31, 2000, in which two men were stabbed to death. Lewis and two friends were indicted on murder charges, but Lewis made a plea agreement and testified against his two companions in exchange for the charges against him being dropped. The other two suspects were acquitted.)
I’m no big Ray Lewis fan and I’m already tired of the “Last Game for Ray Lewis” hagiographies on TV, but you can’t expect the commentators to bring up Lewis’ past troubles every time they talk about the guy either.
That said, Anna Burns Welker’s posting was graceless — and she acknowledged as much in a hasty apology issued just as the story was gaining steam.
(Sidebar #2: The morning after the game, Welker tweeted a picture of his wife under the covers and the caption, “Guess who’s getting breakfast in bed?” Guess he was already over the big loss.)
Welker himself was on the receiving end of an OSO dis a few years ago, when Tom Brady’s wife Gisele Bundchen complained, “You [have] to catch the ball when you’re supposed to catch the ball. My husband cannot [bleeping] throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time. I can’t believe they dropped the ball so many times.”
Then there’s Anna Benson, who never stopped talking during her 13-year marriage to baseballer Kris Benson. Anna, who pulled a stun gun and a large sexual toy out of her purse on the series premiere of “Baseball Wives,” famously once proclaimed if her then-Mets hurler hubby ever cheated on her, she’d sleep with the entire Mets team. I’m sure that went over big in the clubhouse.
(Sidebar #3: Last year Benson claimed her now-retired husband had an affair with one of her best friends. The Deadspin headline about the breakup was: “Kris and Anna Benson to Divorce After 13 Irritating Years.”)
After Kris Benson was traded from the Mets to the Orioles, legendary reporter Murray Chass of the New York Times wrote, “Anna Benson doesn’t hit home runs or drive in runs. … And Kris Benson doesn’t have a good enough arm to overlook his wife’s mouth.”
(Sidebar #4: Oddly enough, though it’s certainly not unheard of, you don’t see a whole lot of OSO activity in show business. Jennifer Garner isn’t tweeting her dismay over hubby Ben Affleck not getting an Oscar nod. Though that’d be fun to watch.)
Not every professional athlete’s wife is a former Miss International Hooters or a former Miss March or an ambitious spotlight-seeking heat missile angling for a reality gig. I’ve met a number of player’s wives who are smart, lovely, independent, supportive, wonderful individuals who wouldn’t dream of Facebooking or tweeting or YouTubing about a heartbreaking loss or a trade to another team.
This isn’t 1955. Nobody’s saying a good wife should have “Stand By Your Man” on her iPod and should be seen but never heard from. But after a tough loss or a trade to another team, I’d say about 95 percent of athletes would prefer the OSO not act as the family spokesperson.