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The Globe and Mail

Hey sports fans, leave the wives alone, it’s not their fault

Is it any wonder that Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer shuns social media? After losses on Saturday to Montreal and on Sunday to New Jersey, in which Reimer played just 22 minutes, a small but loud minority of Leafs fans blasted Reimer's wife, April, on Twitter. Many of the immediate comments were vicious, the tame ones simply rude. "Hey @april_reimer, your husband is a siv what do you see in him?" tweeted one. "Divorce James right when he gets home, like seriously he's garbage," wrote another.

While it's rare for the spouse of an athlete to face that type of vitriol, it's not unknown. For whatever reason, whether it's Caesar and Cleopatra or Wayne and Janet, the woman gets the blame and takes the flak. Here are a few contemporary examples (and one oldie) of that sort of misguided spousal blame.

The Canadian Press

Wayne and Janet

Poor Edmonton. In August, 1988, the city lost its favoured son, the Great One, to Los Angeles. The fans were not happy. The NDP demanded that the federal government block the trade, Oilers owner Peter Pocklington was burned in effigy and, yes, Gretzky’s wife, Janet Jones, became a target of scorn. The attractive 27-year-old aspiring actor had married Gretzky a month before the trade was announced and fans blamed her for stealing the hockey star away. Nearly two decades later, the wife of another Oilers star became the focus after a trade. Chris Pronger left Edmonton for Anaheim in 2006 in part, media reports said, because his wife, Lauren, a St. Louis native, was not happy in Edmonton.
The Associated Press

Becks and Posh

Can a wife be blamed for her husband’s bad behaviour? Victoria Beckham was in early 2000 when her soccer superstar husband David was tossed from a match after an ugly tackle against Mexico. The former Posh Spice had joked on a television show that her hubby liked to wear her thong underwear, prompting a torrent of media coverage and fan comments that may have got under Beckham’s skin. He lashed out at an opposing player who had allegedly goaded him, and critics piled on Posh for supposedly giving Beckham's opponents ammunition with which to put him off his game. 

Tom and Gisele

In the aftermath of a stunning Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants, Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen, married to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, was caught on camera venting her frustration. “My husband cannot f--ing throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time," she said to a fan.  “I can't believe they dropped the ball so many times.” Fans responded with memes and comments online and any subsequent big-game loss invariably includes an accusation that somehow Bundchen had cast a spell of distraction.
The Associated Press

Tony and Jessica

Can a relationship jinx a professional athlete? According to critics and fans, that is exactly what happened to Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo in 2008. Again, a Super Bowl loss prompted column inches and blog posts claiming Romo had been too wrapped up in a relationship with model and actor Jessica Simpson (rather than, you know, blaming a thumb injury for his lacklustre play).
Ian Barrett, For The Globe and Mail

John and Yoko

Even though we’re diverging slightly from sports, where would we be without at least a flick to the mother of all spouse blaming? John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s early years happened to coincide with the Beatles’ final years. Reviled for her apparent influence over Lennon, Ono was (and still is by some) blamed for the breakup of the iconic band.

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