In a scene from Moneyball,
a pack of crusty scouts sit around a table picking apart players in all manner of subjectivity. The absurdity reaches a highpoint when one scout downgrades a player based on the attractiveness of his girlfriend: “She’s a six at best,” he says. “Ugly girl means no confidence.”
“What a ridiculous idea,” I thought. “Evaluating players based on their partners, madness!” Then, “These guys are clowns.” And, “Go Brad Pitt!” (I wish I could claim that’s the first time I’ve said that.)
Flash-forward about a year to last Friday night. Eight picks in, the Miami Dolphins, desperate for a quarterback, have selected Ryan Tannehill, an entirely unproven, converted wide receiver to be the future of their franchise. The camera switches to the former Aggie’s table with his family, friends, and absolute bombshell of a wife. My screen time with Lauren Tannehill lasts about 3.8 seconds, but its enough time to almost choke on a Dorito from the shock. By the time I’ve cleared my windpipe with a swig of Heineken my mind is made up: This guy is going to be a star.
Instead beating myself up over my newfound shallowness, I’ve decided to put my cave-manly priorities to use in a column. The question I want to answer: Assuming a player’s ‘better-half’ can tell us something about his performance, which first round picks are getting the biggest bump? (Note: I’m focusing only on the women I was able to find through my rigorous research techniques (Google) and whom I believe represent the biggest upside.)
Matt Kalil (OT, Vikings) - Mary-Kate Fitzpatrick (girlfriend)
Even if they are broken up, as the comment-boarders are claiming, I still rank Kalil’s relationship with the former Miss California runner-up as the most impressive on this list. Fitzpatrick looks like the type more likely to end up on the arm of the quarterback than that of the offensive lineman. The fact that she was going steady with Kalil, says a lot about his game
. Viking fans can only hope that includes his play on the field.
Andrew Luck (QB, Colts) - Nicole Pechanec (girlfriend)
Pechanec, a gymnast at Stanford, brings something to the table that the others on this list cannot: an understanding of the pressures that come with competing at a high level. It’s doubtful this duo will ever reach the Agassi/Graf, Garciaparra/Hamm echelon of athlete relationships. But should Luck lead the Colts out of the basement to contend with the AFC big boys (my Pats included), I’ll be ready to give Pechanec all the credit.
Ryan Tannehill (QB, Dolphins) - Lauren Tannehill (wife)
With the All-American luster and stigmatism-inducing smile, Lauren Tannehill looks like a combination of Vanna White and another quarterback’s wife, Elizabeth Hasselbeck. Like Hasselbeck, I could see her playing the overly kind, incredibly sincere role in a morning show format, or even, should we be so lucky, becoming a NFL sideline reporter. Add the fact that she’s moving to Miami, a city famed for its fascination with looks, and she becomes the most likely among these ladies to end up sharing the limelight with her man. Add that
to her husband’s uncertain prospects in the NFL, and he becomes the most likely first round pick to end up as a stay-at-home dad in the next five years. (But don’t worry Miamians; he’s a lock).
Chandler Jones(DE, Patriots)- Cherynne Montanero
Perhaps it’s the irrational Patriots fan in me, but I’m legitimately encouraged about Chandler Jones, New England’s first pick, after seeing and reading about his girlfriend Cherynne Montanero. Undoubtedly good-looking, she also looks slightly more down-to-earth than some of the others at first glance. This tells me (obviously) that Jones is a stable guy who will fit in perfectly into the Pats’ no-nonsense system. Also that, being from the Bronx, she’ll be doing her part to keep him in line. (Its official: that was the irrational Pats fan talking.)
Justin Blackmon (WR, Jaguars) - Mariel Dunlap (girlfriend)
It’s unlikely Mariel Dunlap was a factor in the Jaguars decision to trade up to take her boyfriend, Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon. But if she was, could you blame Jacksonville? This girl is a football girlfriend
. She’s a cheerleader. She’s “spunky,” in her words. She even joined Blackmon in Boise State-style sideline kiss after one of his best games in college, drawing many a camera. For Blackmon’s sake and the Jags, let’s hope she doesn’t mind blackouts.
Garret Celek, (TE, 49ers) -Sarah Hinton (girlfriend)
Sarah Hinton is already raising her man’s stock, earning the undrafted free agent a spot amongst the first-rounders in this column. The swimsuit model and Hooters girl is plenty justification for San Francisco’s decision to up Celek. I’ve never seen the guy play and I’m considering making him a late-round pick in my fantasy draft.
*Yout turn! Do your duty to the nation and scour the web to help complete this list!