|Brad Barket/Associated Press|
|Jacksonville Jaguars CB Aaron Ross will be in London to cheer on his wife, Olympic runner Sanya Richards-Ross.|
Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Aaron Ross isn't so sure his wife has the story exactly right. It is true, he says, that he first met her in a dining hall at the University of Texas in 2003. It is true, he admits, he wasn't the one to initiate the conversation.
Beyond that, the details get a little cloudy.
"She'll tell you she called me over to her table and asked me my name," Ross said. "I remember her sister calling me over to introduce us, but she wants to think she's the 'big dog' who made it happen."
Nearly 10 years later, there aren't any questions about who the big dog is at this moment: Sanya Richards-Ross, one half of a world-class partnership shared between two very decorated athletes.
If all goes well in the preliminary heats, Sanya will represent the United States in the finals of the women's 400-meter run Sunday at the Olympic Games in London. She is favored to win her first individual gold medal, and her husband has found a way to be there for her -- just as she was there for him during his two Super Bowl victories with the New York Giants.
"It means everything to me," Sanya said in an email interview from London. "(Aaron) isn't only my husband -- he's my best friend. And to know he'll physically be in the stands for the most important race of my career thus far is priceless.
"I could never thank the Jaguars organization enough."
The Jaguars -- specifically coach Mike Mularkey -- didn't hesitate for a moment when Aaron asked to leave training camp for a few days to watch his wife run. In 2008, when Sanya won a bronze medal in the 400 at the Olympic Games in Beijing, Aaron was in his second year with the Giants, too young (and too scared) to even think about missing part of camp.
So Friday, he'll leave Jacksonville (where he signed as a free agent in March) for London. And he'll cheer on a wife who might be the only NFL spouse capable of winning a foot race.
"To be honest, I think I'm faster in the (40-yard dash) -- but anything after that, she has it," Aaron said. "In the 40, I can get her. In the 100, I might need to lean at the line. In the 200, I'm pretty sure she'll beat me. And in the 400, she'll murder me. I wouldn't even bother getting on the track.
"There aren't too many NFL players that can go around and say their wife can beat them -- and all of their friends."
Proud as Aaron might be now, the foundation of this relationship wasn't based on athletics. When Aaron and Sanya met at Texas, they knew little about each other's sports, let alone how much promise each of them possessed.
So what originally brought the two together?
"It was all about the looks," Aaron laughed. "I really wasn't into the whole track thing. We linked up because we were attracted to one another. Once we started talking to each other, we were inseparable."
Their initial bond developed into a far deeper respect for their respective sports. They started to watch. They started to learn. And soon enough, they became obsessed with each other's careers.
"Ross has been so supportive of my career -- this year more than ever," said Sanya, who refers to her husband by his last name as a fun term of endearment. "He came to all my meets, trained with me as much as he could, cooked for me when I was too tired, got ice for my ice baths and encouraged me every step of the way.
"He plays a big part in my success."
After the 400-meter run, Sanya is set to compete in the 200-meter sprint next week. Training camp will call Aaron back by then; he chose to be there for Sanya's 400-meter race because that's her specialty. That's not to diminish the importance of the possibilities ahead for Sanya. She has a chance to join Michael Johnson and Valerie Brisco-Hooks as the only Americans to win gold in the 200- and 400-meter races in the same Olympics.
Achieving such an accomplishment would obviously be incredible. But Aaron and Sanya already have something incredible in their lives. Between her two gold medals from relays at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics and his two Super Bowl rings, their trophy case is like no other.
Of course, there's always room for more.
"This race is like her Super Bowl," Aaron said. "The idea of being there to support her is just amazing."
Follow Jeff Darlington on Twitter @JeffDarlington.