As “The Bachelorette” Season 12 concludes Monday night (8, ABC/7), finalists Jordan Rodgers and Robby Hayes are racing to the finish — which is fitting, since both have been competitive athletes.
It’s hard to ignore the loud prognostications calling Rodgers, 28, the front-runner, but prognostications aren’t always correct.
Romantic chemistry, of course, is more unpredictable than actual chemistry. Rodgers, after all, has also been the subject of online ire for purportedly leaving a string of angry exes — and 26-year-old Dallas real-estate professional Fletcher already had her heart broken after Season 20 “Bachelor” star Ben Higgins told both her and eventual winner Lauren Bushnell he loved them.
So on paper, at least, who are these two men vying for Fletcher’s hand?
Jordan Edward Rodgers, born and raised in Chico, California, is the younger brother of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The siblings unfortunately are estranged. “Me and Aaron don’t really have that much of a relationship,” Rodgers, who has another older brother, Luke, confessed on the July 11 “Bachelorette” episode. He added, “I don’t have hard feelings against him, it’s just how things go right now.”
He had had pro-football aspirations himself after playing starting quarterback for the Vanderbilt University Commodores. An undrafted free agent, he signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in April 2013 but was released two months later, four days before training camp. He joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ practice squad that October and was dropped the following February, then spent April and May 2014 competing to be the Miami Dolphins’ third-string quarterback.
The Canadian Football League’s B.C. Lions, in Vancouver, British Columbia, put him on their practice roster that October, but the following May he quit football. He had a bit part as a Green Bay Packer, alongside real ones, in a “sing-off” contest in last year’s a cappella comedy “Pitch Perfect 2” and now lives in Nashville.
Robert Hunter Hayes II, 27, was raised in Alpharetta, Georgia, the oldest of five siblings. At Florida State University, he competed on its varsity swim team from 2007 to 2011, breaking the school record for the 200-yard individual medley. He earned an Honorable Mention All-America honor with an FSU 800-meter free-relay team at the 2009 NCAA Championships.
After majoring in finance and real estate, Hayes is working toward a master’s degree in finance at the University of Miami. According to his LinkedIn profile, he is both a manager at GH Investments in Jacksonville, Florida, where he lives, and a salesman for Myrtha Pools USA in the Sarasota area.
Meanwhile, fans of “The Bachelor/Bachelorette” franchise won’t have to go through withdrawal pains: ABC’s “Bachelor in Paradise” competition begins Tuesday (8 p.m.), with former contestants spending six weeks at the Playa Escondida Resort in Sayulita, Mexico, north of Puerto Vallarta on Mexico’s Pacific Coast.
Nashville singer-songwriter Carly Waddell, 30, from “The Bachelor” Season 19, made it through all six episodes of 2015’s “BiP” Season 2. “Last year my story was, I found someone the first day and he broke up with me the last day,” she told Newsday of her thwarted romance with Kirk DeWindt from “The Bachelorette” Season 6. “This year I went in just going to have fun.”
At least she got a song out of it. “It was called ‘Blindsided’ and it was about being blindsided by Kirk when he broke up with me.” So she subscribes to the Taylor Swift formula of getting back at exes through song? “One million percent!” she says, laughing. And who knows? She lives in Nashville, Jordan Rodgers lives in Nashville . . . anything can happen. Unless you believe the prognosticators.