May 6, 2022 | SPORTS | By Olivia Xerras | Illustration by Sydney Morris

The 2022 NFL Draft took place this past weekend in Las Vegas. With the highest-touted college talent expecting to hear their names called out by commissioner Roger Goodell, many of the top picks celebrated on-screen with their top supporters. By top supporters, I mean their soon-to-be committed life partners. This not-so-atypical trend of being an exceptional football player with a beautiful and devoted partner shone bright and clear during this year’s selection process.

University of Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett, the No. 20 overall pick in the draft, secured a spot on the Pittsburgh Steelers roster and, as of recently, scored a lifetime promise with now fiancée and former Princeton soccer player, Amy Paternoster. Newly anointed Tennessee Titan wide receiver, Treylon Burks, the No. 18 draft pick, is already engaged to fellow Arkansas alumnus Shelby Pearlman.

Even the Green Bay Packers, who held the No. 34 overall pick, selected an engaged man, Christian Watson, to join their team. Watson’s fiancée, Lakyn Adkins, a cosmetologist from North Dakota, donned an engagement ring only a month before to the NFL Draft.

During the draft, I couldn’t help but ponder why tying the knot has become such a pattern for such young and boundlessly budding players. Is it an avoidance of gold-diggers? The fear of not-so-loyal future girlfriends only in it for the money and fame? Is this what Drake is talking about in his 2017 hit song ‘Fake Love’?

Each of these soon-to-be highly paid professional athletes appears to share the desire to have a faithful cheerleader in it for them before their NFL debut. With no worries about money as a professional football player, it would be believable for these athletes to have it all, now that their love lives are in the bag.

Despite this lofty ideal, based on a Wilkinson and Finkbeiner Family Law Attorney divorce statistic in 2022, about 60% of marriages of couples in their early 20s in the United States fail, while those who wait until they are 25 years or older are 24% less likely to get divorced. But do these statistics even apply to professional athletes?

There seems to be a maximum amount of temptation for these traveling players and a lot of money floating around. With that kind of combination, divorce seems to be destined for many of these relationships. There is not quite enough evidence to pull from on the specifics of the league divorce rate, but based on accounts of current wives and girlfriends in the league, setting great communication standards and willingness to travel seem to be two of the most influential factors in sustaining a healthy infidelity-free partnership.

I wish this year’s picks and their chosen companions all the happiness in the world. As my parents always stressed to me, the hardest year in a marriage is the first because of the huge life transition that comes after the vows. This fact coupled with a typically major location move to a professional facility where every day’s schedule is dictated by a coach makes their cards fairly stacked against them.

Although, the personalities and good-hearted nature of each of these players is based solely on their embraces with their partners at the draft and their engagement photos on Instagram, it appears hopeful that these couples can beat the odds and achieve a lasting relationship through the end of their NFL careers and beyond.

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