If you’re one of the 3,600 people who searched “Who is Simone Biles’s husband?” on Google this month, you likely learned his name is Jonathan Owens, he’s an NFL player for the Green Bay Packers, and, according to his most recent interview, he considers himself to be the “catch” in the relationship.
The safety recently went viral from his appearance on “The Pivot Podcast.” On it, he claimed he didn’t know who Biles was when she messaged him on a dating app — despite Biles being one of the greatest athletes of all time — and that he didn’t “pull” Biles. “It’s really how she pulled me, man,” he said. “That’s the question. I always say that the men are the catch.”
Owens went on to share that he was initially “fighting” his romantic interest in Biles and was afraid to commit because he was focusing on his third year in the NFL. He added, “But, you know, it happens when you least expect it.”
The soundbite wasn’t exactly well-received on social media, as expected. In the comments of the YouTube video, one person said, “I can’t believe Jonathan was so tone deaf that he didn’t use this as an opportunity to compliment his wife by saying no she is the catch. I feel like the things this woman has done in her sport should’ve made him feel like the luckiest man in the world.” Another said, “I think it’s about time that Owens steps back and has a good think about how to tell the story in a way that is humble, respectful, and grateful. He comes across as if he’s trying to knock her down a few pegs or embarrass her.”
But while it would be easy to jump in on the Jonathan Owens roast, maybe we should look at the athlete’s comments for what they are instead: deep-rooted insecurity.
In a society that largely upholds traditional gender roles, men like Owens may have a hard time accepting that their significant other may be more successful. This isn’t an excuse for what was extremely disrespectful behavior, but it’s unfortunate that Owens felt like he had to diminish his wife’s accomplishments to demonstrate his own.
This logic likely comes from the expectation society puts on the men in heterosexual relationships. The expectation is to be better — to make the most money, to work harder, to be more competitive — in an attempt to be the provider. By saying that he is the “catch” and that Biles had to be the one to really win him over, it was his attempt at regaining power in the relationship, especially as many social media users noted that they only know him as “Simone Biles’s husband.” (Of course, that type of behavior isn’t productive either.)
Perhaps the newlywed could take some notes from someone like Alexis Ohanian, the former Reddit executive who married Serena Williams in 2017. The venture capitalist has been praised for being his wife’s biggest supporter. Ohanian once put up billboards welcoming his wife back to tennis after she gave birth to their daughter. In interviews, we don’t hear Ohanian talking about being the catch. Instead, we see him post sweet Instagram captions that admire the “breadth and depth of influence” his wife has on the world.
Ultimately, Ohanian’s unwavering support for Williams doesn’t diminish his own success. If anything, it makes him appear to be even more confident and successful with her by his side. And if there’s anything Owens can learn from their relationship, it’s that he doesn’t have to dim someone’s light in order for his own to shine.
Fortunately, Biles isn’t too concerned by the backlash her husband is receiving. In the interview, she even mentioned that someday, people will be calling her “Jonathan Owens’s wife” instead of Simone Biles. Until then, 3,600 people will continue to search “who is Simone Biles’s husband?” every month on Google.