You’ll be surprised how many of them involve urine.
When it comes to quirks, tics, and obsessive behavior, you really can’t top those people paid obscene amounts of money to play games professionally. Athletes have enough bizarre superstitions and rituals to confound an aboriginal holy man, so if your favorite player, say, reeks of toilet water or appears to be arguing with his own shoulders, there might be a perfectly good (if batshit) explanation.
8. Bully Your Stick
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You probably don’t know the name Bruce Gardiner because A) he only played professionally for five years and B) he played a game called “ice hockey.” Well, during his time with the Ottawa Senators, he asked a teammate for advice on how to break out of a scoring slump. He was told he was coddling his sticks too much, so Gardiner started treating them like skinny Mathletes – he would ritually dunk his sticks in the locker room toilet before each game.
7. Sleeping With the Enemy
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NBA star Jason Terry likes to get to know his opponents intimately before each and every game. The night before, he sleeps in a pair of the opposing team’s shorts. Now, we’re not sure if this is simply a superstition or if his morning wood has magical hex powers, but either way, Terry is a sporting goods store’s dream athlete.
6. Urine Win
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Anyone who played against former New York Met Moises Alou is probably pretty glad the MLB hasn’t instituted the postgame handshake line. Alou believed that his own urine made for the ideal batting glove – helping him avoid calluses, you see – so he’d ritualistically piss on his own hands before every game.
5. Beat Yourself Up
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Oakland Raiders’ defensive tackle John Henderson’s pre-game ritual answers the age-old question, “What did the five fingers say to the face?” Henderson makes the assistant team trainer bitchslap him as hard as he can before every game. This is either to toughen him up, or settle down his hysterical crying fits. We’re not sure which.
4. The Perfect Husband
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A cricketer from South Africa named Neil McKenzie wouldn’t take the…field? Pitch? Diamond? Cricket Hole? Um…wouldn’t leave the locker room until he was absolutely sure every single toilet seat was down. He also had a habit of taping his bats to the locker room ceiling. He later found out he suffered from OCD, presumably by his physician, Dr. Obvious.
3. Only the Penitent Man Shall Pass...and Receive
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New York Jets running back Curtis Martin insists on reading the Bible’s Psalm 91 prior to every game. Psalm 91, incidentally, is known among the more hip Christians as the “Psalm of Protection,” and is most often cited during periods of intense hardship. Like, say, playing for the New York Jets.
2. Mind Over Matter
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Hall of Fame Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche goaltender Patrick Roy did little to quash the stereotype that goalies were squirrely. Roy confessed that during the pre-game national anthems, he would ignore the rockets red-glaring and the standing on guard for thee and instead focus on shrinking the goal net with his mind. He would also openly converse with his goal posts, thanking them whenever a shot clanged off his pals and away from the goal line.
1. Just Be Crazy
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Former New York Mets pitcher Turk Wendell was “quirky” the way Lindsay Lohan is “erratic.” In fact, take away his uniform and ability to throw a ball, and Wendell would have been right at home screaming obscenities at ATMs in the Port Authority bus station. His rituals and superstitions were legion, and included stuffing four pieces of black licorice in his mouth before taking the mound, only to spit them out and immediately brush his teeth in the dugout after each inning. He wore a necklace made out of pieces of animals he had hunted and killed, and was so cognizant of the number 9 (he wore #99) that he insisted his contract be in the exact amount of $9,999,999.99. He was a cool scar away from being a Batman villain.