In February 2021, Shailene Woodley uttered a line that will go down in pop culture history. “I never thought I’d be engaged with somebody who threw balls for a living,” she told Jimmy Fallon during a virtual appearance on The Tonight Show. The man in question was her then-fiancé, Aaron Rodgers. Yes, that Aaron Rodgers. The Green Bay Packers quarterback who was a Super Bowl MVP. Did I have to look up that stat? Maybe. I guess Shailene and I have something in common (we don’t know that much about sports).
You see, Shailene wasn’t starstruck over Aaron’s football abilities—nah, she just thought of him as a Jeopardy-loving nerd. So how did the hippie actress end up engaged to a football legend before they eventually called it off and broke up? I’m so, so glad you asked.
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? A rep confirmed with Us Weekly that Aaron and Danica Patrick had broken up last summer. They met in 2012 at the ESPYS and started dating in 2018.
That month, rumors started that Shai and Aaron were seeing each other. Sports gossip blogger Terez Owens wrote that they were spotted together in Lake Tahoe.
Aaron appeared on The Pat McAfee Show, and while he didn’t say he was in a relationship, he did reference “changes” in his life.
“I have just a new and increased love of life and I have made decisions and changes and habits that put me in a lot better headspace,” he said. “There’s just a lot of things that have come together in my life over the last few months that have really been enjoyable and reminded me, given me perspective in life and in football to view things through the most positive lens I possibly can.”
We *finally* get confirmation that Shailene and Aaron are a bona fide couple. “2020 was definitely a crazy year filled with lots of change, growth, some amazing, memorable moments, 180 straight days of having my nose hair scraped, playing for very little fans or no stands the entire season,” Aaron said during a speech after accepting the 2020 AP Most Valuable Player Award. “I got engaged and I played some of the best football in my career.”
He continued, “So I’d like to thank, first and foremost, my teammates for their support, their inspiration, protection, incredible play on the field…off the field, I’ve got a great group of people that support me, so I’d like to thank my team.”
He didn’t name Shailene, but WE ALL KNEW.
Then Shailene appeared on Fallon and spilled alllll the deets.
“I mean, I’ve been reading that too [that I’m engaged to Aaron Rodgers], it’s kind of funny,” she began. “Yes, we are engaged, we are engaged. But for us, it’s not new news, you know, so it’s kind of funny, everybody right now is freaking out over it, and we’re like, yeah, we’ve been engaged for a while. Yeah, we got engaged a while ago. It’s been—he’s, first off, just a wonderful, incredible human being, but I never thought I’d be engaged to someone who threw balls for a living. I never thought as a little girl, Yeah. I’m going to marry someone who throws balls, yeah! But he’s really just so good at it, and I’m really impressed. He can throw fast balls, he can throw slow balls, high balls, low balls. When I first met him, I think my dog, like, pulled me aside and was like, ‘If you don’t date this dude, I will disown you as my mother because the three feet that I run with you when you throw a ball is nothing compared to the marathon I’m able to run with him.’”
Double date time! On May 1, Shailene and Aaron (Sharon? Ailene? More on that later…) attended the Kentucky Derby with their friends, including Miles Teller and his wife, Keleigh Sperry Teller. FYI: Miles and Shailene are frequent costars. They both appeared in The Spectacular Now and the Divergent franchise.
Later that month, the couples went on vacation to Hawaii and many Instagrammable moments ensued.
And my personal favorite…
Shailene divulged more information about her relationship in a Shape cover story. “Starting a relationship where you immediately move in with someone—because it’s a pandemic and you can’t just get on a plane and go back and forth on weekends—taught us a lot about each other very quickly,” she said. “We jumped in headfirst and got some of the sticky bits out of the way early.”
She continued, “I have the perspective that I would have met Aaron in any context, any space in time because I feel we were meant to be together.”
As it turns out, Shailene and Aaron were keeping their engagement low-key for months. “When we announced that we were engaged, we wanted to do that only because we didn’t want someone else to do it before we did,” Shailene told the Hollywood Reporter in a cover story. “And we didn’t do it for months and months after we had become engaged.”
She added, “But the reaction to it was really a lot, and so we were like, ‘Let’s just politely decline [to talk about the relationship] for a little while and live in our little bubble.’”
Months later, things took a turn. A rep for Aaron told People that Aaron and Shailene called off their engagement and ended their relationship completely. The good news is it doesn’t seem like it was too messy or devastating.
“It was an amicable split—it just wasn’t working,” the source told People. “They’re very different people with busy careers and there were obstacles that they couldn’t surmount. They will remain friendly; there’s no bad blood and no drama. It just didn’t work out for them.” The news of their breakup comes just about a year after their secret engagement.
Less than two weeks after news broke that the couple had called off their engagement, however, Aaron and Shailene were spotted together in Los Angeles (and on Twitter, thanks to fan photographers), spurring rumors of a reconciliation.
While Shailene and Aaron have yet to personally address the current status of their relationship, sources close to the pair gave some hopeful updates.
"Shailene and Aaron broke up after the two spent a lot of time apart and couldn't make it work," one source told Entertainment Tonight. "Aaron had told Shailene he'll put more effort into the relationship and making her a priority. The two have been spending more time together recently and will see what the future holds."
Another insider told Us Weekly that Shailene and Aaron aren't back together, but that they *are* "talking things through and trying to keep things private" because, even though they split, "their love for each other never went away."
"Things are different now, but they were definitely over," the Us Weekly source added. "Now that Aaron is in [the] off season, he has more downtime and can focus more on a relationship. Shailene is understanding and open—she hasn’t shut the door completely or [she] would’ve never agreed to meet up with him."
Here’s to wishing them both the best in the future, whatever they decide to do.