NFL Backstage: Pop Culture Meets Football

Pop culture is no longer the purview of A-List actors and musical artists. No, this is 2021 and everyone who gets their 15 minutes of fame is eligible whether you are a YouTuber, like Atta Halilintar whose 26 million subscribers watch him do everything from giving house tours to rubbing elbows with celebrities, or Guy Beahm, aka Dr. Disrespect, whose prowess on the gaming circuit has earned him legions of followers and beaucoup dough.

But there are few more explosive pop culture cocktails than athletes hanging with actors, musical artists, or television personalities. These physical specimens, the alpha males and females of our generation, cavorting with equally celebrated people from completely different genres is pure gold for the paparazzi, as well as publicity agents looking to diversify their clients’ fan base.

Below we will focus primarily on NFL stars who have transcended the gridiron and have become familiar to a wider audience, those who don’t know a football from a baseball, nor do they care. While millions of football fans watch these stellar athletes perform on the world’s grandest athletic stage, and even try to make a few bucks by predicting the results of the games with their NFL picks, they also follow their private lives with just as much zeal. Let’s take a look at the examples below.

Tom and Gisele

It has become a common occurrence for NFL players to interact with celebrities, as social media has become a conduit that allows instant communication between highly celebrated people who would otherwise never cross paths. It is often a mutual admiration society that is available for the world to see and their adoring public can’t get enough of it.

However, the zeitgeist of the early aughts can be perfectly exemplified by the union of NFL legend, Tom Brady, and stunning former supermodel, Gisele Bundchen, whom he now calls his wife. But unlike today, this storied blending of flawless genetics happened not through Twitter DM’s or an Instagram like, but through a mutual friend who decided to play matchmaker. Let’s hear Tom tell the story.

“I got introduced to her by a mutual friend. It was a ‘blind date’ — although it wasn’t blind because I knew what she looked like,” Brady told Howard Stern in a 2020 interview.

“It was in December of 2006. I thank him to this day. I had gotten out of a relationship and she had been out of a long-term relationship that she had, so when we met, I wasn’t quite sure if I was ready for a relationship,” Tom continued. “I didn’t think I was, but we met and hit it off. When she walked in, I just thought she was the most beautiful woman I’ve seen in my life.”

Can we all get a collective – awwwwwwwwwww?

Aaron and Danica

Unlike the Brady/Bundchen union, this duo is not nearly as high-powered nor as long-lasting because football star Aaron Rodgers and former NASCAR driver, Danica Patrick, are no longer an item. But for a few years, starting in 2018, they were indeed a thing but it was several years in the making before friendship turned to romance.

Beginning in 2012, the two would see each other almost annually at the ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) Awards and became acquaintances. However, Patrick was married, and Rogers was a celebrity athlete on the prowl.

Patrick told For The Win, “We’ve just been sort of friends the whole time, kept in vague touch and seen each other at the ESPYs almost every year, and other places. So, one thing led to another, and we realized how similar we were, and yeah, that got the ball rolling.”

Unfortunately, the couple didn’t last but Danica is now seeing entrepreneur, Carter Comstock, while Aaron is dating actress Shailene Woodley.

Eric and Jessica

Although only hardcore NFL fans will recognize the name, Eric Johnson, the former tight end of the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints, many will recall the super sexy Jessica Simpson from her days as a singer, actress, and all-around pop culture queen. Destiny collided and their stars aligned in May of 2010 when the pair began dating, only to become officially engaged six months later, and subsequently married in 2014.

On their sixth wedding anniversary, Jessica wrote on Instagram, “Eric Johnson, my Husband, I love you. 6yrs ago today I married my perfect soulmate.” And added, “Our unity was written in God’s sky of colliding stars. Together we manifest dreams, nurture desire, and hold space. Destined, it always has been and always will be, forevermore.”

The couple met at a house party Jessica threw way back when and she wrote last May on their 10th anniversary of the night they met, “I fell head over slippers in love with this perfect man 10 YEARS ago today! By chance he knocked on my dreamy cottage door (sigh), I let him in and never let him leave. He is mine, I am his…forever #MAY212010.”

Well, 11 years and three children later the couple is still going strong and Jessica has morphed from a Daisy-Duke-wearing siren to a powerhouse entrepreneur!