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Supporting her dream


The excitement builds by the day.

And why wouldn't it? It isn't every day or even every year you see your wife and best friend pursue a lifelong dream on an international stage.

That's what Aaron Ross will do this weekend. But as the Jaguars cornerback prepares to fly to London to see his wife, Sanya Richards-Ross, compete in her signature event, the 400-meter dash, at the 2012 Olympics he said something else is clear, too.

That perhaps not every NFL franchise would allow this, or be as encouraging.

"This is a special organization," Ross said this week at Jaguars 2012 Training Camp, which continued Thursday with a pair of practices at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields adjacent to EverBank Field.

"(Head) Coach (Mike) Mularkey and Gene (Smith), they didn't hesitate when I asked them if I can go over. So it shows you what kind of team they're trying to build over here.

"Family first, so every team is not like that."

Ross participated in Jaguars practice Thursday. He is scheduled to fly to New York then take the six-hour flight to London Friday. Richards-Ross will compete in the preliminaries Friday.

The semifinals are scheduled for Saturday, with the finals scheduled Sunday, after which Ross will return to Jaguars training camp.

Richards-Ross is also scheduled to compete in the 200-meter dash, but she's the favorite for gold in the 400, and if she indeed wins . . . well, if that happens Mularkey does have a request:

That she stop by EverBank and show off the medal.

"Absolutely, yes," Mularkey said, laughing.

Ross said if Richards-Ross indeed wins that's one request she certainly will fulfill.

"I'm sure she'll bring it up here – I'm sure," he said.

On a more serious note, Mularkey said not only was the team willing to allow Ross to miss three days of training camp to attend the Olympics, the Jaguars encouraged it. Mularkey said it's not as if this is the old-style two-a-days, when missing three days of practice and getting eased back in after returning might cost a player seven or eight practices. He said Ross has picked up the system well, and that while he will miss a scrimmage Friday, starters will play only a limited amount that night, anyway.

"I think our players want him to go," Mularkey said. "I think we all do."

Ross, for his part, said he has been struck by the level of support not only from the Jaguars' coaches and front office, but the entire organization.

"The guys are showing me 100 percent support about this," he said, smiling. "They're more excited than I am, it seems like. They're asking me each and every day, 'When are you leaving? When are you leaving? Tell her good luck. Tell her bring it back home for us.' So I got the guys support around me. It seems like the whole team is pumped about it."

Before leaving this week, Ross addressed many of the questions he said he typically gets when asked about his wife. Yes, they train together, and no, when they race, he does not win. In fact, he said, when they work out together, "I haven't completed a workout yet." He said that's something that doesn't bother him, not considering his wife is one of the fastest, best-trained athletes on the planet.

He also said while he has faced pressure as a player, what his wife will face this weekend is something different.

"She gets one chance between 48 to 50 seconds," he said. "She has to get all of her steps right, nerves have to go out the door and there's 70,000 people in the stands to see her do it and probably a billion watching, so it's a big moment for her."

Ross, who has worked with the starters through much of the first week of training camp, said he isn't remotely bothered with questions about his wife, or the attention she receives. He talked early in camp of his pride when he sees Richards-Ross featured on commercials during the Olympics, and he said jealousy or edging one another for the spotlight or attention isn't part of their relationship.

She has supported him in his career, a career that has included two Super Bowl championships with the Giants. Supporting her now? During her Super Bowl?

Ross said that was a given.

"I'm her biggest fan and of course, her husband and more important, her best friend," he said. "I'm behind her 100 percent. I get a chance to see her training pay off."

As for what to expect in London, Ross said he's not sure. He has been to Super Bowls, but the Olympics is an international scale. He said he has his tickets to the event already, and he's hoping his wife – as one of the event favorites can "pull some strings."

"I'm trying to get that backstage pass," he said.

Ross said he has been to plenty of big meets with Richards-Ross, and while he wasn't necessarily a big track guy before the two met at the University of Texas – "I ran track, but it was something coaches made me do to stay in shape," he said with a laugh—he has become one in their time together. He said he understands the pressure, and the enormity of the moment, and once the weekend hits, he said for Richards-Ross it will be about negotiating the moment.

"Oh yeah she's cool as a whistle right now. So I think she's really on top of her game and hopefully she can hold it on until the rest of this weekend."

As for Ross, if he's not quite so cool as his wife, he's just as ready.

"I'm getting more excited each and every day," Ross said. "The time is getting closer. I'm starting to talk to her more often, because she's starting to lay off her training a little more and getting ready for the big day, so the excitement is getting sky high.

"I'm getting chills now. I'm thinking about it. It's getting close each and every day; man, I'm ready. I love being here but I also want to see my wife so I'm thrilled about going over there."

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