July 24, 2015
Similar to the 2015 Philadelphia Eagles, Chip Kelly’s personal life and history have generally been a mystery. In a new feature on the Eagles head coach, which Kelly predictably didn’t give any help with, the Washington Post’s Kent Babb dug into the New Hampshire native’s past and learned the following things:
• Mike Bellotti, the former Oregon coach and athletic director who initially hired Kelly straight out of the Atlantic 10 as his offensive coordinator, “knows little more about Kelly than that he hates green vegetables and loves beer.”
• While coaching the Ducks, Kelly’s 6,300-square-foot house in Eugene had “little more than a couch and a television.” This was apparently already reported, but I still found it pretty notable.
• He liked to read in 1990s, but didn’t have the patience for fiction, instead settling on self-improvement books.
• In the six years between Kelly’s last college game and the time which he completed his degree, he worked as a gym teacher and coached junior varsity football.
All of those tidbits pale in comparison to the real bombshell: Kelly, who has often been mentioned as a lifelong bachelor in previous features, was married for seven years in the 1990s to a woman named Jennifer Jenkins. How he was able to keep this under wraps this whole time, with both modern technology and the whole football world interested in his every move, is pretty incredible. From Babb:
In 2011, Jenkins read an article in the New York Times that described bachelor coaches and how, even in the image-conscious and political world of college football, Kelly had never been married.
“Why does everything say that you weren’t married?” Jenkins said a friend recently asked her. “I just roll my eyes.”
It used to hurt, she says, as if seven years of her life had been washed away. But now she finds the humor in it. Jenkins’s former coworkers knew the real story, and a friend joked about calling a sports radio show to reveal that the friend had been in Kelly’s wedding party. After enough strangers told Jenkins they didn’t believe her, she began carrying a wedding photograph on her iPhone. “Nobody talks about it,” she said. “But everybody knows.”
After getting married in 1992, the couple stayed married in New Hampshire for seven years (although there was a one-year stop at Johns Hopkins for Chip) before divorcing in 1999. Jenkins now spends most of her time in the Washington, D.C. area and actually took in her ex-husband’s successful NFL debut at FedEx Field in September 2013. According to Jenkins, the two have remained friends and she supports the Eagles.
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