Illustration for article titled Meet Kristin Cavallari, Incredibly Successful Ex-Wife of Washed-Up NFL Athlete

There are stories more important than those about Kristin Cavallari, who in and of herself doesn’t need defending. She’s blatantly opportunistic, shilling bogus medical advice to ingratiate herself with the most profitable Instagram venture: sponcon. Yet despite this, I have been roused from my Friday nap to offer a simple correction about her divorce. Perhaps this isn’t clear to sportswriters, even those at Deadspin, but let me make this simple: Playing in the NFL does not make one a god. It is not an avenue to sainthood, nor is it akin to service in the military. And besides, there’s nothing more boring, or foolish, than watching men call Cutler’s now ex-wife a shrieking harpy while prostrating themselves before their football god. Do his boots really taste that good?

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It’s true, as our sister site notes, that Kristin is blatantly anti-vaxx, a history Jezebel has covered extensively (along with her various forays into questionable wellness practices). What grabbed me most, however, was the proclamation that Cavallari was a “talentless harpy,” a description repeated throughout a recent post. Cutler, meanwhile, is then contrasted as the hero of their divorce announcement, a man who earned his right to sit around and manipulate the mother of his children.

Here are some facts: Cavallari spun an appearance on the throwaway reality show Laguna Beach into a surprisingly lucrative television career. Where her co-stars, like fellow lead Lauren Conrad, have sunk into mediocrity, Cavallari maintained a consistent presence on E! as an on-air host and reality television star. Very Cavallari, while not riveting to me specifically, is also E!’s most successful non-spin off to launch in recent years.

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For a talentless hack, it’s rather impressive she drew roughly half the audience of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, and their glistening E! empire, in Very Cavallari’s first season. Alongside this, Hollywood is indeed a waste bin, but to maintain a consistent standing amidst all the trash, and frequently rise up out of it, is no small feat. I don’t have to like Cavallari to admit she has kept her foot firmly in the door longer than she should have, and that it is something that requires talent. 

Cutler’s behavior, as alleged in their divorce filings, is also a bit too chilling for a lighthearted post about their perceived power dynamic. In recently filed court documents, Cavallari’s lawyers wrote:

“Husband has been controlling and manipulative throughout the marriage [...] Husband is using the parties’ funds in an attempt to control Wife and force her into accepting proposals which are not favorable to her. [...] He uses these funds to manipulate Wife into doing what he wants her to do.”

Tight control of their finances is a pattern for Cutler. In a subtle storyline during the first season of Very Cavallari, he belittled her role in the marriage, after a friend pointed out she was the primary breadwinner at a dinner party Cavallari hosted.

With Cutler retired at the ripe age of 37, Cavallari continued along in her successful television career of 15 years, which started when she was in high school, using avenues like the aforementioned reality show to keep her family as wealthy as ever. But yes, it’s all “his” money, correct? Because the fruit of his wife’s work is his by right. The money Cutler made in the NFL, however, is earned, and exclusively his.

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Further into those recently filed court documents, Cavallari alleges emotional and verbal attacks from Cutler, who her lawyers claim frequently belittled her in front of their children. They have now settled on sharing primary custody, a move that came both after she requested primary custody and his business manager blocked her from their joint finances. Does his earned right to lay-about also include the right to verbally berate her in front of the children?

“Husband will attempt to engage Wife in an argument and make derogatory comments to her in front of the minor children. She fears this will only escalate as the divorce process progresses and that the children will suffer irreparable harm.”

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There is nothing noble, or pure, or even very interesting, about playing in the NFL. It is as important as Cavallari’s work on television, which is to say: It is not important at all. Jay Cutler is not a hero; he, like Cavallari, is an entertainer. He was an average—at best—football player, whose financial future depended on his wife continuing to work well past the age of his retirement. Obviously no one earns the right to be an emotionally and financially manipulative husband, as Cutler is alleged to be, especially one willing to put his children in the crosshairs to punish his wife. But certainly, not someone who has supposedly “earned that right” through mediocrely playing a sport.

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