Being a star athlete is a coveted position that all members of a team strive to be labeled. The stronger your performance, the higher you get paid, and in turn the more leeway you have to start making crazy demands and requests as the staff just want to keep their players happy. When it comes to contract demands or specific pre-game requests, it’s important to think outside the box as your routine everyday intangibles can simply prove to be not enough for some. It does not take a lot to know that contracts, regardless of how basic they may be, are complicated to maintain and fairly please all parties. When you throw in the additional perks, requirements, and further forms of compensation no matter how bizarre it sounds, the management is forced to dance around in order to accommodate and satisfy their prospect. To fans and observers of sports, these requests may sound ridiculous and make the athletes look spoiled, but athletes are programmed differently. Some athletes just feel they need a certain something to help in their performance.
These athletes are more often than not under copious amounts of stress with high expectations riding on their shoulders so it’s no surprise that a few pieces might be a little loose when trying to finish the puzzle.
With that, here are the Top 15 Craziest Athlete Demands and Requests included in players contracts and practiced before or during games.
15. John Henderson – NFL
John Henderson, aka Big John, stands at 6’7 and is a former defensive tackle in the NFL who played for a total of ten seasons. The majority of his career was spent with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he was a first round pick in 2002, before moving onto the Oakland Raiders for the last two seasons of his career. Henderson displayed a fairly unique way of getting in the zone before games in the locker room. Before games while he was on the Jaguars, he would request that the assistant trainer, Joe Sheehan, slap him across the face as hard as he could while back in the trainers room. He thought of it as getting the first hit of the game out of the way before he even ran out onto the field to play. That’s one way to get pumped up before a game.
This next one does not refer to a single athlete in particular, but a sports community as a whole. The world of NASCAR has its fair share of superstitions such as the number thirteen, or the color green, but this one is also a request from drivers that started way back when. Peanut shells are not a welcomed commodity on the tracks of NASCAR. The peanut itself is okay, just not the shell.
Way back when a few fatal collisions occurred and uncovered peanut shells were discovered in the cockpit and engines of the car, as the crew would work on the cars underneath the stands at the stadiums. Dropped peanut shells were obvious irritants to the drivers as when cars were wrecked, shells were scattered across the carnage. So next time you go to NASCAR, as requested from the drivers, restrain from bringing peanuts with shells to eat while observing and instead opt for a jar of peanut butter perhaps.
13. Mike Bibby – NBA
Mike Bibby is a retired professional basketball player who was in the league for fourteen seasons. He played for numerous teams starting in 1998 with the Vancouver Grizzlies, finishing in 2010 with the New York Knicks. The NBA point guard had a rather odd quirk while sitting on the bench between shifts: he obsessively picked his fingernails during the games.
It got to the point where this just wasn’t a good enough method of grooming anymore, and he actually requested that his team trainer wait for him on the sideline ready to hand him a pair of nail clippers to use between shifts. Further, it got so obsessive he had the trainer on stand by when the coach called a time out so he could go to work on his nails while planning out a strategy. How much work do your nails need to pass a basketball around?
12. Daisuke Matsuzaka – MLB
Daisuke Matsuzaka is a Japanese baseball player who had a decent MLB career, specifically with the Boston Red Sox for six seasons before heading to Cleveland and then New York. He didn’t live up to the hype, but he sure made some good money.
He returned to Japan in 2014 where he signed with a professional team there. During his stint in America, while he was with the Red Sox, in addition to the regular allowances for moving, housing, and vehicles stipulated in his contract, there were a few other things he wanted to make sure were put in place. Matsuzaka requested the personal aid of Red Sox staff members. The duties of the Red Sox staff member was to help him deal with the Japanese media, on top of a physical therapist, a massage therapist, and a Japanese to English interpreter. That’s enough of an entourage that it would put Mariah Carey to shame!
11. Rolf-Christel Guie-Mien – Eintracht Frankfurt
Rolf-Christel Guie-Mien is a retired soccer player who hails from the Congo. He played on Germany’s Eintracht Frankfurt team and quickly became a central component of the team’s plans and carrying out executed plays. Previous to Guie-Mien signing his contract, one of the demands he HAD to make sure was included, which was probably a first for management, was complimentary cooking classes.
Yes cooking classes, however not for him, but for his wife. There was no news of complaints or protest on her part, proving she was definitely a team player in this deal. I’m sure this had a round of applause from husbands all around the world when it was initially reported. Whether or not the culinary skills of his wife were good or bad, there really was no way but up from here for Guie-Mien. You have to wonder if he shared the spoils with his teammates.
10. Ichiro Suzuki – MLB
Ichiro Suzuki is yet another Japanese professional baseball player currently playing right field with the Miami Marlins. He spent the bulk of his career with the Seattle Mariners, then the New York Yankees before Miami. Despite the fact he was an import with a language barrier similar to Matsuzaka, his demands were not as extensive, but just as puzzling. Ichiro is making a guaranteed $17 million a year, so one would assume he’s not to worried about making sure he has a roof over his head, right? Well his five-year contract extension from 2007 included the usual complimentary round trips to Japan during the year and trainer services, but it also was specified that a housing allowance be included for each year of the deal.
Basically the Seattle outfielder was not only getting paid $17 million a year, but having someone else pay his rent. Smooth!
9. Steve Sarkisian – University of Washington Head Coach
Taking a brief break from players and drifting to coaches proves they have as many demands as if they were the ones actually playing. Steve Sarkisian is a former university football coach for the University of Washington and the University of Southern California. While the university players don’t get paid, that leaves room for the coaches to earn hefty salaries. Before Sarkisian left Washington and made the jump to USC, he had a few things added into his coaching contract to have the school foot the bill for.
He demanded that the contract include his whole family’s travel to every road game throughout the season, all postseason event expenses be taken care of, and up to two ‘business related’ trips per year. These primarily travel related expenses begs the question; how’s business going in Hawaii?! So, why aren’t college players paid again?
8. Mike Leach – Washington State Head Coach
Mike Leach is yet another college football coach. He is head coach of the Washington State Cougars, previously coaching for Texas Tech. Like many contracts that include the standard set of season tickets, he asked for that and then some. The outspoken coach demanded his family be provided with an 18-seat suite at the stadium, an additional 20 regular tickets for each home game and bowl games, and 150 tickets to every Cougar away game. By the looks of it Leach’s goal was not only to buy every seat in the stadium, but also strategically have more fans cheering him on than the opposite.
When coaches are getting perks like these, it’s hard to fault them for not making the jump to the NFL. All of these perks haven’t helped Leach build a winning Cougar team, as his career record at Washington State is a mere 21-29.
7. Roger Clemens – MLB
Roger Clemens, aka the Rocket, is a retired MLB pitcher, and one of the most dominant ones at that. He played a whopping 24 seasons pulling in 354 wins. He started on the Boston Red Sox in 1984 and finished with the Yankees in 2007, with a little bit in between. After he finished his time on Boston, the highly sought after pitcher was being scouted by the Toronto Blue Jays but had a few requests put in to the team in order for them to have his signature put on paper.
They agreed to allow his sons (he’s got four) practice on the field in the SkyDome, as well as keep their very own lockers next to their dads down in the clubhouse. All this practice must have paid off as one of his sons eventually became a MLB prospect himself and is now a coach for the Houston Astros.
6. A.J. Burnett – MLB
A.J. Burnett is a retired professional baseball player who played on a total of five teams over a span of 17 seasons serving as pitcher. In 2005 he had the opportunity to sign with Canadian team the Toronto Blue Jays with a five-year, $55 million deal. A part of the contract was the stipulation that he had to ensure his beloved wife see him pitch. However, their family residence resided all the way in Monkton, Maryland, which came out to about seven and a half hours away, by car, from the big city. So in order for Burnett to ensure his wife not only got to come see him play, but travel in style, he had it put in his contract that she receive eight round-trip limo rides, door to door, each season. That’s a lot of rather comfortable miles spent for his wife to get a chance to see him play.
5. Giuseppe Reina – Arminia Bielefeld
Giuseppe Reina is a retired German football player who played on multiple teams over the course of his career. He averaged about 3-4 seasons each team he played on, but in particular his season with Arminia Bielefeld was a memorable one. It was his very first contract and entailed an awfully bold request from the organization. His contract demanded for Arminia Bielefeld to build him a house a year.
That’s right, he asked for one home to be built for him, every year of his contract in which lasted a total of four seasons. Now, what does one do with four homes? It was left unclear how big they are, where they were located, or how lavishly built they were.
Imagine if you went to your boss and even asked him/her to cover a mortgage payment on your house. Reina sure did well for himself in this demand.
4. Ossee Schreckengost – MLB
Many years ago before the time of modern technology and the ability to ask for amenities of our day and age, contract demands were much simpler. Ossee Schreckengost was a first baseman and catcher way back when who played in the MLB from 1897 to 1908. During his time on the Philadelphia Athletics, he was roommates with Rube Waddell. The two had to share a mattress as well while travelling on the road making any sort of personal space virtually non-existent. Waddell was known for his bizarre and unpredictable behavior, such as bringing food into bed, in particular crackers.
Before Schreckengos re-signed his contract with the team he had the request included in his contract that Waddell was no longer allowed to eat animal crackers in bed. He even once stated, “I didn’t mind the flat crackers so much,” Schreckengost said, “but for a whole week last year I woke up with elephants’ tusks and cowhorns stickin’ ‘tween my ribs.”
3. Roy Oswalt – MLB
Roy Oswalt is a retired baseball pitcher whose career was defined by his many seasons with the Houston Astros, before he went to the Phillies, Rangers, and Rockies. He won 20 games during his 2004-2005, prompting him and the team to be sitting pretty at the doorstep to their first ever World Series. Due to his hard work the owner had promised him a gift of his choice as a result of his performance.
So right then and there Oswalt had it put in ink on contract if he did what he was supposed to, he would be rewarded with something he had always wanted, a bulldozer. So when the end of the series rolled around and he was awarded MVP for the season, he finally got his very own Caterpillar D6N XL. A rather excited Oswalt stated, “this is a dozer you can do anything with”. Now that’s a way to make the hometown jealous.
2. Rick Mirer – NFL
Rick Mirer was an NFL quarterback enduring about an 11 year career, spending most of his time with the Seattle Seahawks. He was selected as the second overall pick in 1993 and signed a five year, $15 million dollar contract. He was the center of jokes among his teammates when word got out what he had demanded be a part of his contract. Mirer had an ‘end of the world’ clause apart of his contract. What exactly might that be? Well if humanity as we know it ever turned into a episode straight from The Walking Dead, he would fortunately still be getting paid. I believe the exact condition was “up to and including the end of the world”. Seahawks brass were probably baffled by the request but also felt confident they’d never have things come to that, “sure, whatever you say Rick.”
So if we ever found ourselves in the middle of a apocalypse, at least Rick Mirer would still have his wealth.
1. Charlie Kerfeld, MLB
Charlie Kerfeld is a former MLB relief pitcher (what is with these pitchers?) that spent all of his career with the Houston Astros, then one brief year with the Atlanta Braves. While he is now working in the front office for the Philadelphia Phillies, he once had quite the requests as part of his contract renewal. In 1987 when he became aware that teammate Jim Deshaies had signed for $110,000, he requested $110,037.37 PLUS 37 boxes of orange Jell-O. We know the 37 came from his uniform number, however where the Jell-O thing came from is as good a guess as any. Jell-O’s good and everything, but wouldn’t $110,000 be enough to buy you a lfetime supply?
The team eventually regretted the sweet addition as he would later suffer and battle with a weight gain and was sent down to the minors.
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