Richards-Ross was in the stands when her husband started at cornerback for the New York Giants in two Super Bowls. Both games went down to the wire.
“I was like, ‘Please, I’m gonna have a heart attack,’ ” Richards-Ross said.
And when Richards-Ross, one of the best American sprinters heading to the Summer Games, gets ready for the starting blocks, her husband is usually in the stands, though with a slightly different demeanor.
“I’m pretty much never nervous,” he said, “as long as she believes she can win.”
After signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars as a free agent this spring, Ross wrapped up his offseason workouts with his new team earlier this month and is in Eugene for the U.S. Olympic track and field trials this week, where his wife is trying to set the stage for a historic trip to London.
Richards-Ross, 27, qualified for her third Olympics last week in her signature event — the 400 meters — finishing in 49.28 seconds, the fastest time posted by anyone in the world since 2007. She begins competition Thursday night in the 200 meters, with finals slated for Saturday. She holds the world’s fastest 200 time since 2010, finishing in 22.09 seconds in New York earlier this month.
Richards-Ross is trying to join elite company. Only three runners have managed to win Olympic gold in both the 200 and the 400: American Michael Johnson and Marie-José Pérec of France, both in 1996, and American Valerie Brisco-Hooks in 1984. Richards-Ross is coached by Clyde Hart, who also coached Johnson on his memorable quest for the grueling 200-400 double at the Atlanta Games in 1996.
“I know it’s going to be tough,” she said. “Every athlete that has attempted it, you can see it’s not an easy task. But I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Richards-Ross was born in Jamaica but moved to Florida when she was 12 and became a U.S. citizen when she was 17. She later ran for the University of Texas, where she met Ross, a member of the Longhorn football team. The two were both driven athletes and workout fiends. Ross was immediately impressed by Richards-Ross’s work ethic.
“When I first met her and found out how many abs she did a day, that was crazy,” he said. “She got me doing my abs.”
Said Richards-Ross: “My husband really balances me out. I’m kind of high-strung and bouncing off the walls and all over the place. He is so calm.”
Between them, the couple has two Super Bowl rings, two Olympic gold medals and one Olympic bronze, an NCAA football national championship and five gold-medal world track titles.
Their relationship is traceable on a sports calendar. Dating when Ross started in Super Bowl XLII. Engaged before Richards-Ross competed in the Beijing Games. Married by time Ross started in Super Bowl XLVI. And now that Richards-Ross is London-bound, the couple is in the midst of a move to Jacksonville.
Ross, 29, signed a three-year contract with the Jaguars in March. Richards-Ross has been busy training in Texas since then, so the cornerback has been in charge of relocating the couple from New York. Ross picked out their new home, and he’s solely responsible for the decorating.