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Jesse Palmer and Jessica Bowlin – A Tale of Love Postponed

Updated on September 10, 2016
Chuck profile image

I am a former Vietnam-era AF air navigator with degrees in History and Economics. Areas of interest include aviation and military history.

Jessica Takes Time Out to Seek the Love of Her Life

Jessica Bowlin was one of the twenty-five women that Canadian born football quarterback Jesse Palmer met and dated during his stint as the bachelor during thatseries fifth season in 2004. By the end of the series filming in the spring of 2004 all of the women except Jessica Bowlin had been shown the door. Where upon Jesse presented a rose to Jessica and asked her to marry him. He gave her a one way plane ticket to the East coast where he lived and appears to have had every intention of continuing the courtship and marrying her.

However, among the unreal aspects of reality TV shows is the fact that they are not broadcast live in real time, but are filmed prior to the start of the television season and then broadcast during the season. To maintain the suspense needed to hold the audience, the series ultimate winner must be kept secret from the viewing public until its final broadcast months later. While both Jesse and Jessica have indicated that they were looking for a marriage partner and both left the filming intending to continue the relationship, the secrecy required by the show, their busy schedules and other priorities along with being physically separated by the two thousand plus miles between their homes ultimately proved to be too much to maintain the courtship and, like most of the previous couples from earlier episodes of The Bachelor, real world reality trumped the contrived reality of reality TV and the relationship ended with each going their separate ways.

A Smart and Ambitious Couple

In addition to their good looks, both Jesse and Jessica are a couple of intelligent and ambitious young people who, at the moment at least, are totally focused on their careers. While their good looks and intelligence are gifts of nature, both of them have worked hard to develop their talents and use their God given gifts to build meaningful careers. There is nothing shallow about these two and they have both arrived at this point in their lives through their own efforts.

One only has to look at Jessica's resume and biographical information on the web to be impressed with what this California born young lady has accomplished so far in her 26 years of life. An honor student at East Carolina University who completed her undergraduate degree in a mere three years and graduated in 2003, she went on to law school where she recently graduated, cum laude, in the top 7% of her class in May 2007.

Jessica then went on to sit for the bar exams in both California and Utah. In addition to college and law school she has worked for the Orange County District Attorney's Office, done legal research for the Hugh Hewitt's nationally syndicated radio show, as well as legal research work for other law firms and legal organizations.

As if this were not enough along with law school and legal work, she also managed to travel to Ethiopia in November and December of 2004 where she did volunteer work with organizations working with children infected with AIDS and then, in October 2006, was a White House volunteer where she assisted with coordinating local and national media along with organizing greeters and special guests for a visit to Los Angeles by President Bush that month.

With a full schedule of school, work and volunteer activities some things, like dating and finding a husband, had to take a backseat in Jessica's life. Not that finding the love of her life was not important, she just had other things to accomplish first and decided to leave finding a mate to fate or at least put off seeking someone until a later date when she had more time. However, relying on fate, or luck, is not so much a matter of waiting for it to find you as a matter of you recognizing an opportunity when it appears and seizing upon it. This is exactly what Jessica did when the opportunity to be on the reality TV show The Bachelor presented itself. Seeing the opportunity it presented, she grabbed and ran with it seeking to find out where it would lead her. And it led her right to a man who wanted to be her husband.

But fate can be demanding and, in the summer of 2003 Jessica had three years of law school ahead of her as well all the other things that appear on the resume cited above. Jesse Palmer, on the other hand, was struggling to build his football career and still had a commitment to play for the New York Giants on the other side of the country as well as working to build a career in broadcasting as back up in the event the desired football career didn't take off.

Choices had to be made, priorities set and, for both of them, career demands were placed at the top of their lists with love and marriage falling toward the bottom to be squeezed in as time and schedules permitted. In the words of Rudyard Kipling OH, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, we find a good metaphor describing how career demands, which required Jesse to go East and Jessica to remain in the West separated the two and prevented them from meeting in marriage. While both claim that they remain friends, lovers they are not and email and cell phones are not a good substitute for holding hands and going on dates together.

Jesse Palmer and His So-So Football Career

Impressive as Jessica's accomplishments are, Jesse's are even more impressive. Of course, being four years her senior he has had a head start on her and, being a media personality, his accomplishments have been more widely publicized than have hers.

Born on October 5, 1978 in Toronto, Ontario to Bill and Susan Palmer, but raised in the Ottawa suburb of Nepean, Ontario where his father was a star CFL (Canadian Football League) football player with the Ottawa Rough Riders. With a father who was a football star it is only natural that Jesse would seek to follow him and follow him he has. They say that likes attract and part of the attraction of Jessica for Jesse may have been her drive and ambition because, like her, he is ambitious, focused and driven in his efforts to succeed. In Jesse's case the hard work and drive can be seen all the way back to his high school days.

While he attended St. Pius X High School in Ottawa, Ontario, he turned down the opportunity to play football on the school team and instead elected the more challenging option of playing for a club team, the Myers Raiders, where he was named Canadian Player of the year in 1996. Under his leadership, the Myers Raiders were Provincial Champions in 1994, 1995 and 1996 with Palmer being named All Star Most Valuable Player in 1995 and 1996 as well as the team Most Valuable Player in 1995 and 1996. In addition to being a star football player during his high school years, Palmer kept in shape between seasons by becoming a star basketball and star baseball player, where he was named to the Canadian All Star basketball team in 1994 and led the East Nepean Eagles baseball team to a championship in the CanAm Syracuse Baseball Tournament in 1994. This 1994 win was the first time a Canadian team had won the CanAM Syracuse Baseball Tournament championship in the 35 year history of that tournament.

After graduating from St. Pius X in December of 1996 he had over forty major universities wooing him, including Notre Dame, but he elected to attend the University of Florida in Gainsville where majored in marketing and political science while continuing as a star football player for that team. During his senior year at the University of Florida he was ranked as one of the top college quarterbacks in the United States.

Following college, Palmer pursued a career in pro football and was drafted by the New York Giants in 2001 as a second string quarterback. Although, he managed play in a few games, including a December 2003 game in which he was called upon to start in place of Kerry Collins who was kept out due to injuries, thereby gaining the distinction of being the second Canadian to start in an NFL game. However, despite his high school and college successes, competition in the pros was considerably greater and, despite some successes, Jesse Palmer spent his six year career in the pros, which spanned the period 2001 when he was drafted by the New York Giants to his decision to retire from the Montreal Alouettes in May of 2007, as a back up player. His stint with the New York Giants ended on September 2, 2005 when the Giants released him. Following his release from the Giants, he played a little, again as back-up only, with the San Francisco 49ers, the Minnesota Vikings and the Montreal Alouettes.

Even though the Alouettes held his rights, the Ottawa Renegades did try to hire him in the 2006 season and he was interested in their offer to be their top quarterback. However, his contract demands were out of their range and nothing came of this.

Careers as professional athletes rarely last more than a decade or two at best and what to do with the rest of their working life is something that every professional athlete has to contend with and plan for. For most professional athletes the career is much shorter and, lacking the name recognition and star status of those who reach the top, choices are limited and income considerably lower following the end of their short professional career. Jesse apparently realized early on that, despite his hard work and best efforts, he could be find himself an unknown ex football player all too soon, and began building a second career outside of football while, at the same time, giving 150% striving to be a star quarterback. His backup career choice was sports and entertainment broadcasting, another highly competitive field with a reputation as a field where careers can be abruptly terminated. But then, Jesse is hard driven and competitive by nature so he was up to the challenge and, besides, with sports broadcasting, he had the opportunity to remain connected to the game with the possibility of becoming a star in football off the field. Like many other successful people, Jesse realized that the road to success can contain many curves and detours.

The Bachelor Show Becomes Jesse's Gateway to a Career in Broadcasting

Following the end of the 2002 football season, Jesse Palmer grabbed at an opportunity to spend his off time as the Bachelor on the reality TV show The Bachelor, then in its fifth season. Telling friends, fans and acquaintances he was headed for Australia until the next football season, he actually went to Hollywood for the filming of the next season's episodes of The Bachelor. His career focus was still football and he insisted in his contract with the show that the producers provide him with a trainer and the opportunity to maintain his conditioning for football, which they did, and he followed a a regimen of getting up early every day to spend hours working to keep in shape for football followed by more hours filming on the set of The Bachelor. Following the filming of The Bachelor, he reappeared at his East Coast home in New Jersey where his friends and team mates were surprised to learn that he had been filming a TV reality show in Hollywood rather than sojourning in Australia for the past few months.

Following The Bachelor, Jesse Palmer continued to work in both football and broadcasting by continuing another year with the New York Giants while at the same time working as color commentator for the NFL on two of their games for the FOX network late in the 2005 season. Having been released by the Giants at the beginning of the season, he helped broadcast these two games while still playing backup quarterback for other teams. The following season he returned to the FOX booth while continuing his attempts to keep his fading football career alive with the Montreal Alouettes. In April 2007 he appeared on the NFL broadcast network as a commentator and analyst during that year's NFL draft. A month later, on May 24, 2007, apparently accepting the fact that he would not have a career as a football star on the field like his father, Jesse Palmer announced his retirement from football and concentrated his efforts on his growing broadcast career.

Since his retirement from playing football, Jesse Palmer has moved from the playing field to the broadcast box having signed on with ESPN in August 2007 as an analyst in-studio co-host on for their College Football Live show as well as ESPN2's Saturday show. At the same time, is also the New York correspondent for the Canadian network CTV's very popular sports and entertainment show, eTalk where he covers both U.S. sports and entertainment news for our northern neighbors including the 79th and 80th Academy Awards as well as sporting events like the Super Bowl. He also does other sports reporting for the CTV network.

While he is known by sports fans, much of the general public remembers him as the bachelor in the fifth season of popular TV show The Bachelor where he dated and eliminated, one by one, twenty five beautiful young women before settling on the 22 year old California beauty, Jessica Bowlin.

The Choice is Made - It's Career over Romance

Jesse Palmer and Jessica Bowlin are a couple of hard working and highly motivated young people who, through hard work and focus have accomplished a lot in their short lives and even shorter professional careers. In interviews both have admitted that their among their motivations for accepting the chance to participate in The Bachelor reality TV program was the chance that they might find true love. Granted much of Jesse's motivation was probably the exposure it would give his budding broadcast career however, when asked in an interview if he really believed he could choose his true love in the short space of the shooting of The Bachelor, he replied that his parents had met, had a whirlwind courtship and then eloped after a mere five weeks of knowing each other and 26 years later were still happily married. For her part, Jessica Bowlin indicated that her busy schedule had not left time for romance and that the show offered both the opportunity to grow by taking on a new challenge as well as the possibility of finding the love of her life.

Following the show Jesse did provide Jessica with a ticket to the east coast and intended to continue the courtship. While Jessica didn't come east, the two attempted to maintain the courtship despite being separated by the 2000+ miles that lay between the East and West coasts of the Untied States. However, following The Bachelor show filming, Jesse's focus was on attempting to breath life into his fading football career while at the same time attempting to breath life into his new found broadcast career as a back up to the football career. At the same time Jessica was focused on getting through law school and becoming a lawyer. Just as Christopher Columbus and other early European explorers were thwarted in their attempt to find a sea route from Europe to the Orient by the American landmass, so too, did Jesse and Jessica find the two-thousand plus miles of North America that lay between Jesse's home and career on one side of the continent and Jessica's home and blooming career on the other side of the continent to be too big an obstacle to their budding romance. In June of 2004 the two accepted the fact that the realities of real life were more difficult than the hothouse reality of reality TV, and announced that they were breaking off their romance and going their separate ways. They did, however, state that their friendship remained.

While fans and producers of the show may have been disappointed, the break up did give us an insight into the character and maturity of these two individuals. They obviously cared, if not loved, each other, but had the maturity to accept the fact that they did not have the time and energy needed to pursue both career and marriage at this time. Romantics may not agree with their choice, but they were mature enough to understand this and make a choice. Also, a public courtship and marriage would have provided Jesse with valuable exposure to help his broadcast career and probably would not have hurt Jessica's career options later either. Such a marriage probably would have failed, but then so do many other marriages especially celebrity marriages in this day and age and a marriage break-up would have provided more publicity to fuel their careers. However, both showed considerable integrity in not using the other for career purposes and, instead, opting to continue to advance their career goals with sheer hard work.

Jesse and Jessica take Different Routes on the Road of Life

In reviewing Jesse Palmer and Jessica Bowlin's meeting and brief courtship one is reminded of Robert Frost's 1915 poem The Road Less Traveled in which Frost describes the choice to be made upon encountering a fork in the road of life:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.

One hopes that the road that Jesse and Jessica have chosen will lead them to the satisfaction and happiness that both are working so hard to obtain along with the love both are seeking but have had to defer.

© 2008 Chuck Nugent


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