So, it can happen. It has happened. Who knows if it’ll happen again?
The Washington Post published an article today on Chip Kelly, pretty much based on an interview that Chip Kelly’s ex-wife, Jennifer Jenkins, gave to Allen Iverson’s and Larry Brown’s sworn enemy, Kent Babb. Jenkins says that while they both were happy when they were married, they eventually just became unhappy. That’s not uncommon in today’s world, as Jenkins explains.
In 2011, Jenkins read an article in the New York Times that described bachelor coaches and how, even in the image-conscious and political world of college football, Kelly had never been married.
“Why does everything say that you weren’t married?” Jenkins said a friend recently asked her. “I just roll my eyes.”
It used to hurt, she says, as if seven years of her life had been washed away. But now she finds the humor in it. Jenkins’s former coworkers knew the real story, and a friend joked about calling a sports radio show to reveal that the friend had been in Kelly’s wedding party. After enough strangers told Jenkins they didn’t believe her, she began carrying a wedding photograph on her iPhone. “Nobody talks about it,” she said. “But everybody knows.”
Why, Jenkins sometimes asked herself, was this considered a secret? It didn’t seem like one to her, and if it was, the artificial intrigue was either the most NFL thing ever or the most boring secret of all time. The truth was no more scandalous than Kelly’s middle name (Edward) or how he spent those six years between playing at New Hampshire and graduating (coaching junior varsity football, Jenkins said, and working as a gym teacher as he slowly completed his degree requirements).
As for the marriage, the years had simply come and gone in New Hampshire, Kelly an assistant on his mentor Bill Bowes’s staff and Jenkins working at the university. They lived in Durham for a while, and then Kelly took a coaching job at Johns Hopkins, moving to Baltimore for one year while Jenkins remained in New Hampshire.
Kelly rejoined Bowes’s staff yet again in 1994, and four years later he and Jenkins had begun to drift apart. They were no longer living together, and in 1999 they divorced.
Football, as the most important thing in Kelly’s life, was a strain, Jenkins admits. But the game cannot be blamed for the demise of their marriage. Like many other things in Kelly’s seemingly complicated life, reality was simple: For a long time they were happy, and then after a while, they weren’t.
There are times where couples grow apart and amicably split. Other times, and moreso than not I would imagine, it’s one side breaking it off from the other. Jenkins’ interview makes it seem like she doesn’t want to say anything bad about Chip at all. She continued.
“It wasn’t his fault because he was focused on football,” she said. “That’s just not the way we’ve ever — that’s not it. That’s not what happened.”
She took a breath.
“We were just young,” she said, preferring to keep the details to herself.
That’s such a weird quote. Honestly. She’s a girl who was probably heartbroken to get divorced after being married for seven years, but it sounds like she doesn’t want to blame Chip for being obsessed with football. There are always sacrifices to make in marriage, and it sounds like Chip didn’t want to sacrifice football, and that was the biggest issue in their marriage.
If Jenkins was really able to put the pain behind her and move on, good for her. It’s a hard thing to do, especially when it comes to marriage. But she’s cheering for him and wants him to win. Something tells me the second set of nuptials between the two will happen once Kelly has completely retired from football. When he’s 82.