Cornerback Aaron Ross didn’t want to miss the Olympics again.
Training camp prevented him from traveling to Beijing to see his then-girlfriend, U.S. runner Sanya Richards, compete four years ago. Now that they are married and with the London Games quickly approaching, Ross started setting up his trip even before he signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jaguars obliged, granting Ross permission to skip part of camp to see his wife run.
”That’s really huge,” Ross said Wednesday. ”It speaks volumes about what they’re trying to preach here. They preach family first here, and they’re not just preaching it. They’re actually showing it firsthand. It was important to me and they made it happen.”
Richards, who now goes by Richards-Ross, won gold in the 1,600-meter relay in 2004 and 2008 and captured bronze in the 400 meters in Beijing. But she is seeking her first individual Olympic gold medal.
If the reigning world indoor champion does get it, her husband wants to be there.
”It’s very exciting,” he said. ”I didn’t get a chance to make it in `08 to Beijing when I was with the Giants. Lord willing, she will make it to London this year and I will have a chance to go down there and support her.”
Although Richards-Ross still has to qualify, the 27-year-old runner is considered a strong favorite to make her third consecutive Olympics.
”She was very excited,” Ross said. ”She wasn’t planning on me coming. I was going to try, but she knows how football is around training camp. She wasn’t expecting it, so when I gave her the call and told her that (they) allowed me to come, she was more than excited.”
Richards-Ross posted on her Twitter page that the decision was ”The best news ever…. Now all I have to do is get there!!!!”
Ross, who started 41 games over the last five seasons for the New York Giants, asked Jaguars general manager Gene Smith and new coach Mike Mularkey about attending the London Games before he signed with the franchise last month.
Smith and Mularkey have made it clear that families are a priority for their players. Last month, they invited free agents’ wives to visit Jacksonville along with their husbands. It helped land Ross, receiver Laurent Robinson and quarterback Chad Henne. So letting Ross miss a few days to cheer for his wife was a no-brainer.
Ross is waiting for the track and field schedule to come out before planning his trip. And since he is battling Rashean Mathis for a starting job opposite Derek Cox, Ross doesn’t intend to be gone more than a few days in August.
”I won’t go until her final race,” he said. ”I want to miss as little time as possible.”