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‘The Bachelorette’ Recap: A Real NFL Player Gets Injured During an Exhibition Football Game

Plus, the chicken guy falls off the top bunk, Chris writes a love song, and Jordan rants about his “professionality”


Normally, I never laugh at any person or professional athlete getting injured in any way. But there are two exceptions: mild groin injuries, and the thing that happened to NFL tight end Clay Harbor on Monday night on The Bachelorette. In Harbor’s own words: “I got injured playing football on The Bachelorette. That’s pretty funny.”

Every season of The Bachelorette features some athletes, because as it turns out, athletic people tend to be attractive. This season, Harbor, who just completed his seventh NFL season, is one of those dudes. And every time an athlete appears on the show, two things cross my mind:

  1. Can The Bachelorette please give us any footage of this athlete completely wrecking a bunch of bankers, real estate bros, and “account managers” in his preferred sport?
  2. Uh, what happens if this athlete gets hurt performing the dumb physical activities he will be asked to do as a Bachelorette contestant?

We got the answer to both questions Monday night. With Harbor on the show, you knew the producers were going to arrange a date on which football was played. They’ve done this before—when former Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers was on the show, there was a football date in the Steelers’ stadium in Pittsburgh. But in that episode, the guys played two-hand touch; on Monday night’s episode, it was full contact. You’d assume that The Bachelorette took all the proper safety precautions to prevent anything bad from happening, but, then again, the person in charge of wardrobes went out and got everybody hockey helmets instead of football helmets, so who knows:

Inline images via ABC

So far on the show, Harbor has proved to be extremely mild-mannered, and he took a backseat at the beginning of the football game. He played quarterback, hanging out and throwing passes instead of physically dominating weaker competition. Here he is throwing a touchdown pass to Mike Renner, who writes about the NFL for Pro Football Focus.

Honestly, a hell of a catch by Mike. As a professional sportswriter, I just want you to know that all sportswriters are this athletic and coordinated.

But after Clay’s team fell behind, he decided to take matters into his own hands. He scored the final touchdown of the game on a QB scramble, dropping all five of the players on the opposing team in the process—and then dropping to the ground in pain himself:

It’s not quite clear how he got injured—nobody tackled him!—but Harbor immediately began favoring his left wrist, saying “I broke that shit.” After a brief round of light mockery—“He calls that celebration ‘the wounded turtle,’” Chris Harrison joked—everybody realized that a guy whose job requires his body to be uninjured just got injured.

Clay returned for the end of the group date with his arm in a sling, saying that he was “not great” and needed to follow up with an orthopedic surgeon. Becca appreciated his quick return and added that she liked seeing Clay “in his element,” and the way he let other contestants shine briefly instead of spending the entire game obliterating them. The two then made out extensively, and Becca gave Clay the rose for the group date, as is customary when a Bachelorette contestant seriously injures himself in pursuit of love.

But during the episode-ending cocktail party, Clay revealed his status for the rest of the season had been downgraded from PROBABLE to DOUBTFUL. He explained that the injury would need surgery, and while he found Becca to be a special woman worth pursuing, he couldn’t further jeopardize his future NFL career by continuing to participate in the show instead of letting the wrist heal. Becca didn’t take the news well, crying while telling the camera that her connection with Clay had just started to click.

So Harbor suffered a season-ending injury—as in, it ended his season of The Bachelorette. Hopefully, this injury hasn’t ended any other seasons of his. Harbor’s NFL career is already winding down—he caught three passes for the Lions two years ago, and spent all of last season on New Orleans’s reserve list due to an undisclosed injury. Training camps are coming up soon—is it possible that Harbor’s wrist injury will keep NFL teams from signing him? And even if he is healthy, what NFL team wants a player whose body can be broken by reality TV contestants?

I hope Clay’s wrist is fine, so I can continue laughing about an NFL player nearly wrecking his career in an attempt to win a Bachelorette football game that the actual Bachelorette will have almost certainly forgotten about by the end of the season.

Second-Most Interesting Injury: David

Here’s a good rule of thumb: If any contestant on any reality show needs medical assistance at any point over the course of the season, the show’s producers will tease the footage by making it look like the injuries came as a result of a major fight. How can you tell that there isn’t actually a major fight? Well, if there actually was a major fight that ended in somebody needing medical assistance, they would show bits of the fight in the teasers. You think they’d pass up the opportunity to show legit violence?

On this season of The Bachelorette, the first two episodes ended with promos that strongly hinted there was an awful fight coming. We saw a contestant being carted out on a stretcher and rushed away in an ambulance. “It looked like he got mauled by a bear,” said one voice. “There was so much blood,” said another.

But no—as we found out Monday, there was no awful fight. David just fell out of his bunk bed. “I’m used to sleeping in a king bed,” David explained, blowing past the worn-out humblebrag and inventing the “tragicbrag.”

However, the fake fight story line was ready-made, due to David’s season-long beef with Jordan. (Is it still called “beef” if one of the guys involved is most famous for dressing up in a chicken costume?) While Jordan clearly relished David’s injury, he didn’t actually commit physical assault against his reality rival. (Another rule of thumb: If one contestant actually did beat the living hell out of another contestant, there would’ve been a cop car next to the ambulance they kept showing. You think they’d pass up the opportunity to show a cop car?)

In spite of the tame nature of the injury, The Bachelorette delayed telling us how David injured himself until the last possible moment. Chris Harrison even slow-played Becca, pulling her aside to tell her “there’s been an incident ... one of the guys is in the intensive care unit.” I understand the need to tease viewers with the lure of potential violence, but I don’t quite get why they needed to briefly terrify Becca.

The Six Best Jordan Lines of the Episode

Cancel the actual competition element of The Bachelorette—just show me Jordan talking for two hours a week. Jordan steals scenes with more efficiency than any contestant I can remember since Corinne from Nick’s season of The Bachelor. But while Corinne was indisputably one of the worst people in recent human history, I find myself rooting for Jordan’s unique brand of peevish dickishness. I’ve decided to start compiling the best things he says every week.

6. “I’m going to start being extremely implicit with my strategy.”

Although he claims to have a higher IQ than the average male model, some words—like “implicit,” which has no possible correct meaning in this sentence—escape him.

5. “If you wanna wreck my image, you can’t succeed, because my image is me!”

David claims he can ruin Jordan’s modeling career, but as Jordan points out, that’s impossible, because he has a three-year contract with Wilhelmina Models. He’s set for life!

4. “Chickens can’t fly!”

In reference to David, who once dressed up as a chicken, breaking his face by falling out of a bed.

3. “You are the skeleton of a man!”

Jordan’s fight with David escalates over Jordan’s brag that he received a pop-up notifying him that he got 4,000 Tinder matches in 2017. In spite of receiving more than 10 matches per day, Jordan still claims that he’s “very selective” with his swipes, but since he claims his hit rate is close to 100 percent, he can pull off a number so high that Tinder apparently made a special push notification just to tell him about how many matches he has.

Anyway, David told Becca about Jordan’s Tinder matches, and she didn’t care, because normal humans date people on Tinder when they’re not on The Bachelorette. But Jordan still felt it necessary to drop this devastating line on David.

2. “I cook, I clean … I’m a golden retriever.”

Jordan was trying to tell Becca that he’ll do whatever he can do to please his partner. I’d just like to point out that real golden retrievers are terrible at both cooking and cleaning.

1. “Cheers to you for being a bitch.”

I hope that Jordan stays on this show for a significant amount of time, though that might keep him below 3,000 Tinder matches for the year.

Biggest Waste of Time: Chris

Becca chooses Chris for a one-on-one date. “Do you know where we’re going?” Becca asks as they approach a building with a sign that says CAPITOL RECORDS in enormous letters. He doesn’t. “There’s so much history here,” she says, while pointing out a framed picture of Halsey, the girl who sang the hook on that awful Chainsmokers song two years ago.

In a Capitol Records studio, Becca and Chris are greeted by Grammy Award–winning singer-songwriter Richard Marx. I know that he won a Grammy Award because Becca and Chris each specify that he won a Grammy Award, presumably while Marx stood just off screen with a gun and his Grammy. “I’m sure you know some of his songs,” Becca says, before failing to sing along with Richard as he played his most famous song. If you don’t know who Marx is, his Wikipedia page tells me he wrote “This I Promise You” for ’NSync, which makes sense, because Chris looks exactly like he could be the “tough guy” member who stood in the back of any 1999-era boy band.

Anyway, the stated point of the date was to write a love song together. Becca quickly writes a fire couplet—“You brought out my smile on a rainy day / Tonight I want to hear more about what you have to say.” (Definitely written by Becca.) But it’s harder for Chris, who says the experience reminds him of a painful memory—writing a letter to his absent father, who never wrote back. Chris eventually fights on, and presents Marx with a verse about Becca.

And then Marx goes on to write a song using Becca’s lyrics and totally ignoring that Chris wrote anything. You’re going to make this guy pour out his heart and then just ignore his bars? Dick Marks is heartless.

Worst Luck: Colton

Colton was kinda in the NFL, as he spent time on the practice squad of several teams. This episode should’ve been a chance for him to show off his skills, but alas, it wasn’t to be: He had to go on the first group date, a trip to a spa.

And the reason he had to go on that date is because Colton used to date Tia, who was a contestant alongside Becca on last season of The Bachelor, and who Becca brought to the spa along with a selection of other former contestant pals.

What would you rather do: Show your new romantic interest how strong and athletic you are, or hang out in a confined space with your new romantic interest and somebody you used to date?

I feel like the whole date was a setup just to entrap Colton—why else would Tia, of all people, be involved with a date on her former castmate’s season? But Colton handles it admirably, saying words like “honesty” to show that he really cares about Becca and not Tia.

Worst Fashion Choice: Wills

For wearing a shirt that says “Wills.”

MVP: Christon

I said Clay “dominated” the football game, but I lied: The real winner was Christon, the professional dunker.

See no. 33 in this clip, the guy who dives at Christon’s ankles? That’s Clay, the NFL player, getting dragged in his own sport. And Christon has a good celebration planned—literally adding insult to Clay’s eventual injury. As Christon says: He is the true Most Valuable Partner.