It's an oh-so-familiar recipe: the superstar athlete gets the mega-money contract, the lucrative endorsement deals and, ultimately, the gorgeous better half. This ideal manifested itself in the stereotypically idyllic lifestyle of NFL superstar quarterback (and reigning Super Bowl champion) Tom Brady and his supermodel wife Gisele Bunchden, so much so that it wasn't hard for those outside New England to muster some schaudenfreude-inspired joy when Brady was called to task for his role in DeflateGate.
It's no surprise, then, when pictures emerge and Google Image searches abound of an athlete and his or her newly minted piece of arm candy. What is surprising is when that new sporting significant other doesn't quite live up to the commonly recognized ideal of beauty.
I suppose there's a level of kudos due to these 15 athletes for looking past the beauty ideals put forth through pop culture and finding love with someone who doesn't quite look Photoshopped. Still, there's an inescapably jarring feeling to seeing these wealthy, high-profile athletes with partners that seem so plain and average. Are these women (and a couple men) being measured by unfair beauty standards? Most certainly. Are we going to rank the athletes that probably could do better anyway? Yes, yes we are.
15 Roger Federer (Mirka Federer)
The greatest tennis player ever found love with someone who, well, didn't quite share the same gifts. A fellow Swiss tennis player, Mirka had a fairly unassuming career, only reaching as high as No. 76 in the world compared to her 17-time Grand Slam champion husband. While fellow elite pros like Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Rafa Nadal have gone the common route of choosing model girlfriends, Roger and Mirka have remained together since the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, married in 2009 and now have twin girls and twin boys together.
14 Michael Jordan (Juanita Vanoy)
Speaking of all-time greats in their sport, Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan enjoyed his rise to NBA greatness alongside Juanita Vanoy, with whom he had three children. After his Hall of Fame career came to a close, apparently MJ also thought he could do better and divorced from Vanoy in 2006. Turns out he may have been right, given that he would wed the stunning Cuban model Yvette Prieto in 2013. Don't feel too bad for Vanoy, though. She wound up with a cool $168 million in her divorce settlement from "Air" Jordan.
13 Agnieszka Radwanska (Dawid Celt)
Dawid Celt's $10,968 in earnings on the pro tennis circuit doesn't quite measure up to that of his girlfriend, Agnieszka Radwanska. The Polish former world No. 2 recently reached the Wimbledon semifinals, where she alone made nearly $1.5 million in prize money. The awkward-looking Celt, who owns a career-high ranking of 852, hasn't played an official ATP match since losing in the first round of the Polish F7 Futures in August of 2011 and doesn't have any evident career aspirations beyond that (that Google can find, anyway).
12 Brad Stevens (Tracy Stevens)
Although the article title is "15 Athletes Who Could Have Done Better", I think we can make an exception for an NBA coach who, at 38 years of age, is younger than a number of players in the league. Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens met his wife Tracy during their time at Depauw University, but you could be forgiven for thinking that she's a fair bit older. Between Brad's young, boyish looks and Tracy's rather, well, motherly image, pictures of the pair appear to better resemble an older sister and younger brother tandem than a married couple.
11 Wayne Gretzky (Janet Gretzky)
It's easy to see what initially attracted hockey legend Wayne Gretzky to the then-Janet Jones, whom he met when he first arrived in Los Angeles in his trade to the Kings. But the years have certainly been tough on Janet, whose face has fallen victim to a few too many cosmetic procedures. She was also implicated in a nation-wide sports gambling ring in 2006. What's the matter, Janet? Being married to a guy with an estimated net worth of $200 million isn't enough?
10 Miguel Tejada (Alejandra Tejada)
You can't say that Alejandra Tejada, the wife of former Baltimore Orioles slugging shortstop Miguel Tejada, was ever content to sit idly by as her husband made money on the diamond. With the help of the $85 million her husband earned over 16 seasons, Alejandra pursued modelling and music careers in her native Dominican Republic. But a quick Google Image search reveals a woman who, quite frankly, is trying way too hard to be sexy. Sorry Alejandra, it just isn't working.
9 Philip Rivers (Tiffany Rivers)
Perhaps more than anyone else on this list, Philip Rivers seems on the surface to embody some of those classic, "Big Man on Campus" athlete qualities. A good looking, star quarterback and the No. 4 pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, Rivers seemed to boast all the qualities that made a beauty pageant-caliber girlfriend all but part of the package. Instead, Rivers held onto his Grade 7 girlfriend, Tiffany. The fervently religious couple married after their freshman year, making for a sweet story of romance. Unfortunately, the years have been kinder on Phil than on Tiffany.
8 John Daly (Sherrie Daly)
If golfer John Daly can't do better than ex-wife Sherrie, then it may well be partially his former spouse's own doing. After a tumultuous marriage in which Sherrie allegedly attacked John with a steak knife, ran a drug and gambling ring and even once fled police with his children in tow, Sherrie has continued to haunt John after their 2010 divorce. Earlier this year, Sherrie sued John's current fiancee, Anna Cladakis, for allegedly being responsible for breaking up their marriage.
7 Doug Christie (Jackie Christie)
He is a chiseled, 6'6" former NBA standout. She is a pretty, petite former "Basketball Wives" reality star. Yet, there is no question about who wears the pants in the marriage between Doug and Jackie Christie. With Jackie in charge, Doug had his own change room with the Toronto Raptors to prevent female employees from seeing him change and had his wife by his side for every interview with a female media member. Even while he was on court, Jackie made sure everyone knew that Doug was hers through their gag-inducing, 'romantic' hand signals.
6 Lamar Odom (Khloe Kardashian)
You could make an awfully strong argument that Lamar Odom's September 2009 marriage to Khloe Kardashian marked a not-so-positive turning point in his 14-year NBA career. Odom did win Sixth Man of the Year honors while wed to Khloe, but reported struggles with both conditioning and substance abuse left him out of the league at age 33, just three years after they exchanged vows. Odom's downfall was chronicled on reality programs "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" and "Khloe and Lamar," right up until she filed for divorce in 2013.
5 Vince Wilfork (Bianca Wilfork)
Former New England Patriot linebacker Ted Johnson raised the ire of teammate Vince Wilfork in 2013 when he joked to a Houston radio station that Wilfork's wife, Bianca, was the least attractive among the wives and girlfriends on the Pats. As surely as you don't want to get a 6'2", 325-pound nose tackle angry, Vince was quick to put Johnson in his place. The problem is, however, that Johnson was kind of right. On a team that features a supermodel WAG in Gisele Bunchden, Bianca probably isn't atop the list of too many Patriots.
4 Chad Johnson (Evelyn Lozada)
The former star NFL receiver had an awfully bumpy relationship with Evelyn Lozada, with fierce allegations suggesting a pairing ridden with violence and abuse. This wasn't Lozada's first rodeo when it came to shacking up with an athlete, either. She had been engaged to NBA star Antoine Walker and would later have two children with MLB outfielder Carl Crawford. In addition to being the most volatile, her relationship with Johnson was also the most highly publicized, on account of much of it being chronicled on "Basketball Wives."
3 Candace Parker (Shelden Williams)
Only injuries have managed to slow what has been a banner WNBA career for two-time MVP Candace Parker. Although she has yet to lead the Los Angeles Sparks to WNBA championship glory, she has won two NCAA titles at Tennessee, earned two Wooden awards and collected two Olympic gold medals. Her husband, former NBA'er Shelden Williams, hasn't. After a decorated college career at Duke helped him get selected fifth overall in the 2006 NBA Draft, the goofy-looking Williams accomplished little of note across six nondescript NBA seasons. Now, he surely faces endless needling about who's the best baller in the family.
2 Dirk Nowitzki (Cristal Taylor)
Details have always been murky on the nature of the relationship between Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki and Cristal Taylor. What is known, however, is that Taylor was once engaged to Nowitzki before a string of arrests and crazy behavior started to raise red flags. Taylor allegedly went so far as to claim that she was pregnant with Nowitzki's child at one point. She had previously carried out a long-term relationship with former NFL quarterback Tony Banks. Quite frankly, it's hard to see what either man saw in the nutty, troublesome Taylor.
1 Brenda Warner (Kurt Warner)
She is out of the limelight now, but you won't find a better combination of domineering, controlling behavior and a lack of any real attractiveness than Brenda Warner, wife of former St. Louis Rams QB Kurt Warner. If you can get past Brenda's butchy, cropped haircut and grandmotherly looks, you find a woman who made a habit of calling into radio programs to berate any media member who dared question her do-no-wrong husband and occasionally rip his coaches. She is best known for her presence in the stands during the Rams' late-90s Super Bown runs, when she could be seen clapping feverishly and confusing many for Kurt's mom.