Everyone has different habits for eating. It may be how you eat it, how it’s made, what it is, etc. These differences can fuel some solid recipes and dishes and other times it can fuel full on health problems. Some people chain themselves from carbs, others carb-load. Some eat an entire pizza for dinner and other people can’t wrap their heads around even eating one slice. People eat slow and fast, loudly and softly, with small bites or monster bites. With so many differences in the normal day life, of course things are going to get weird when you throw in athleticism, coat it with superstition and add a sprinkle of OCD into that mix.
Most people live with superstitions. We poke fun at Friday the 13th, but some people actually take that seriously. Normally, our superstitions are related to how something is going to turn out and something may be done to try to trick the universe into making it a good day, and if it’s not done, well then forget about it. If you want to see ridiculous superstitions, sports is where you'll find a bunch of them. I actually have a friend who eats a KitKat before any street hockey game he plays. We're talking about street hockey here, not even professional sports. I compulsively try different jerseys on during games to turn around the Pittsburgh Penguins mojo. You never say the words “perfect game,” “sweep,” or “shutout.” If you do, you are the single reason why it didn’t happen. Logically, this is insane, but it makes people feel secure.
With professional athletes specifically, they tend to get crazy when it comes to eating and superstition. Some may perform this ritual everyday or only once in a while. Some of these athletes might have a bridezilla-esque breakdown if it can’t be performed for any reason, while others might let it go a little easier. If you’re curious at how dedicated some of these guys get, here are the top 20 weirdest food rituals in sports.
20 Rasual Butler
Rasual Butler is an incredibly superstitious athlete. He is very particular about his processes before a game and one part of that process is that he must only drink five sips of water before it starts. You would think a professional athlete would need more than five sips of water before a game. Even so, Rasual doesn’t care, because it’s always only five sips. It makes you wonder if he also has to take measured sips. Like, if he takes too big of a sip, will it throw him off? On top of that insanity, he also must do things from left to right. So when he’s getting dressed, the left arm goes in first, his left leg beats the right one, and his left shoe is tended to before the right. Then he takes exactly five sips of water.
19 Johan Cruyff
Johan Cruyff used to chew gum and spit it into the opponent’s half of the field before the match began. When he played for Ajax, he believed this was the key to winning- or at least having a chance to win. This got into his head, which is very unfortunate when he forgot his gum during the 1969 European Cup Finals. The team lost to AC Milan 4-1. It’s hard to blame him for getting attached to the superstition, though. It had gotten them further than anyone has been before, making AFC Ajax the first Dutch team to get to the Finals. Gum or not, as Johan aged, he became a manager and became a bit more wise. He said once, “ If [a superstition] does influence the player, you can’t play them in the next match”. Perhaps some of the teams that have guys on this list should keep that in their back pocket.
18 Clint Barmes
If something works, why change it? This is certainly Clint’s way of thinking and has been since he was in the Minors. One day, he decided to get Subway for lunch before a game and, as I’m sure you can guess, he had a great game that night. So, for about a week after that, he went to the same Subway to get that same Sandwich. Shortly after though, he must’ve realized it didn’t work. Lucky for him because I’m sure it would have gotten unbearable at a certain point. Later in his career, though, he ran into another superstition. He sprained his ankle one game and had to tape it. After it was taped, he played like a beast. Barmes continued to tape his ankle after it was healed to keep up the good juju.
17 Caron Butler
Some guys give up their superstitions and bad habits on their own, and other times, they’re banned. Caron Butler’s supersitions were banned. This probably didn’t sit well with him, considering he’s had his since High School. Now, drinking a two liter bottle of Mountain Dew isn’t healthy, but the kid’s been doing it for years and, like most professional athletes, he’s a physical specimen. The Wizards didn’t like the habit though, so they banned him from his precious nectar. He also used to cut up straws from McDonalds and Burger King and chew them during the game. This action also was banned, which is a bit more reasonable as it can pose as a health hazard. He had his best in his seasons with the Wizards, so it’s hard to say who was right, but I’m sure it was uncomfortable for him to not have something to hold on to.
16 Yorvit Torrealba
This free agent hasn’t played since 2013, so he hasn’t had to use his ritual for a while. When he was playing, he would drink the water out of a paper cup and before he would leave the dugout, he’d toss it. If it landed right side up, he would believe he would get a hit. Then, waiting on-deck, he’d spit out his gum and try to hit it with his bat. If he hit it, he would be confident he’d get a hit. But honestly, if he couldn’t hit a piece of gum he spit out, he almost assuredly won’t be able to hit a ball thrown by a skilled pitcher.
15 Floyd Mayweather Jr.
You would think someone as cocky as Floyd Mayweather would raise his nose at the idea of superstition and food rituals. Not to say he doesn’t have a reason to be, as he’s won all 48 of the professional fights he’s been in and totaled 26 knockouts. Regardless, according to his former partner Josie Harris, he eats somewhere around six steaks, pasta, potatoes, chicken and vegetables after each weigh-in. He can eat as much as he wants, but what he should really do is make checking his ego a ritual. This guy thought he was above a $200,000 fee for his fight against Manny Pacquiao, where he made over $220 million. Because of this, on July 7th (which game him plenty of time to pay up), the WBO took away the Welterweight Champion title from him. A ballsy, but awesome move by the WBO. Eat some of that, Pretty Boy.
14 Wade Boggs
Wade Boggs is yet another athlete with multiple superstitions. He would write the Hebrew word “Chai” in the batter's box, he woke up at the same time everyday and he ate chicken before every game. His wife came up with a lot of different recipes to keep it interesting and I’m sure chicken gets very old after the first season. And even after all those years in the MLB and eating chicken, he still does it before those more laid-back post-retirement games. I’m sure it takes him back.
13 Ray Allen
Ray Allen is another chicken dependant athlete, but unlike Wade Boggs, he needs it to be a lot more specific. He eats chicken and rice at exactly 2:30 pm on the dot. This has been done every game day throughout his career. It’s not just lunch, as his entire day is time sensitive. He takes a nap from 11:30 to 1:00, then eats lunch at 2:30. After he’s done eating, he shaves his head and is out on the court by 3:30. He warms up for three hours and then, if he has done it all correctly, he should have a good game. He’s had a great career, so maybe the chicken and obsessive timing was the key.
12 Jerry Tarkanian
Jerry Tarkanian passed away on February 22nd, 2015, but not before living a stellar life with a stellar career. He coached in the NCAA, where he led Nevada- Las Vegas to be the NCAA champs in 1989-90. What helped him get there? His habit of chewing on a towel during games. Not just any towel though, it had to be prepared and folded the right way. The towel chewing dates back to the days when he coached in High School. His team at the time was playing for their league title in California. Jerry was thirsty and running back and forth to the water fountain, when he got the idea of soaking a towel and sucking on it to cut back on trips. That day, his boys won the title and the towel became a permanent part of the team. Clearly, he’ll be missed by a lot of people, but his legacy will continue on.
11 Stephane Lebeau
Though he only played seven seasons in the NHL, he played enough hockey to have his own superstition. In the locker room, he would chew anywhere between 20-25 pieces of gum (probably trying to find the magic number) and spit it out exactly two minutes before faceoff. During his career, he won a cup and totaled 277 points. Definitely not a bad player. He left the NHL to rock the National League A, a Swiss hockey league, from 95-01.
10 Claude Giroux
This Broad Street Bully eats grilled cheese all the time. He eats it before every game, which is not only because of superstition, but because he loves the food. In a short interview, he claimed it as his favorite food. He’s generally pretty goofyand his obsession with warm cheese between two slices of bread seals the deal. He also says his least favorite food is tomatoes which makes his affinity for the sandwich even weirder, considering the best grilled cheese is one that is eaten alongside tomato soup. Regardless, he is lethal on the ice, so he should be able to eat whatever, whenever, and however he wants.
9 Usain Bolt
It’s hard to call this a ritual because it isn’t done before every race, but it was done every day leading up to the Beijing Olympics. For ten days, he only ate McDonalds McNuggets, apple pie, and fries. He would eat over 4,700 calories a day from the food and would eat 100 McNuggets a day. Surprisingly, he didn’t implode and he won the gold medal. Why would he inflict this kind of bodily damage to himself before such a big race? He doesn’t like Chinese food, but he had to eat McDonalds? In retrospect, it must’ve been perfect calorie- wise, as to be an Olympic runner, you’d have to get more than just a cookie cutter 2,000 calorie-a-day diet in. And the easiest way to do that when you’re far from home? Fast Food. I think we’re all just glad his heart didn’t give up.
8 Brian Urlacher
He looks like a big tough guy, which makes the fact that this guy listened to country music and ate two chocolate chip cookies before every game adorable. You can easily picture him looking menacing and badass, so when you picture him in a rocking chair listening to some Tim McGraw and chowing down on some warm chocolate cookies and milk, it’s giggle worthy. He also helps out for fundraisers at Chicago’s local country station, so this guy’s a teddy bear. Honestly, he’s the human version of a PitBull. It’s easy to prejudge him as a monster, but in reality, he’s one of the friendliest athletes out there.
7 Sidney Crosby
Sidney Crosby is a superstar, but he’s also, like Claude Giroux, pretty goofy. Like he’s just weird about things. Superstition wise, he has a lot going on. On the way to the locker room, he takes a different route than his other teammates, being sure not to pass the visitor’s lockers. The boys and him play soccer, then he does a specific routine of stretches. He always wears his lucky cup, one he’s been wearing for years. Then, he and Evgeni Malkin have his special handshake and walk off- Sid first, then Geno. But before all of this, he tapes his sticks perfectly and at 5pm, he has a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich. He needs everything on the sandwich to be a specific brand as well. A jar of Skippy could seriously mess his day up, which makes this habit insane.
6 2008 Boston Celtics
What’s weirder than one obsessive hockey player eating a PB and J before every game? An entire team. The Celtics would eat these sandwiches before every game, something that’s probably great for locker room morale. This cult-like ritual really took off with Kevin Garnett in 2008 and stuck around. It also spread around the NBA. It’s still pretty common to see a table of bread in the background of Celtics interviews, I mean, they have a lot of guys to feed.
5 Turk Wendell
Turk Wendell is another man of habit. While pitching, he chewed four pieces of black liquorice - pretty tame compared to some of the others on this list. That is, until the inning ends. When it ends, he hops like a kangaroo over the foul line and into the dugout where he spits it out and begins to brush his teeth. This obsessive cycle happened after every single inning he played. And speaking of teeth, he always wore a necklace of pearly whites of the animals he hunted as a good luck charm. Hopefully he won’t be adding to this necklace for a while. He totally can chew all the liquorice he wants, though.
4 Pelle Lindbergh
Pelle would have a Swedish beer called Pribbs during each intermission with exactly two ice cubes. The superstition is a bit dark though, considering Pelle probably struggled with alcoholism, despite his teammates claiming he was fine. Though it would be two beers during the game, he probably had a few after, maybe before. The most heartbreaking part of all of this is that in the middle of his career, he lost his life to a fatal car accident, where his BAC was 0.24, 0.10 over the legal limit. Hopefully, this tragic incident stopped a few people from driving home drunk. Seriously, don’t do it. It’s really not worth it.
3 Les Miles
Les Miles is the current Coach of LSU, where he's been coaching since 2001 and won seven bowl games. What keeps him confident and winning? He eats the turf at games. He’ll always eat a bit before, but he also will occasionally eat some in high pressure situations. According to him, it “humbles [him] as a man, [and] lets me know that I’m part of the field and part of the game.” It's hard to miss being part of the game when you’re the coach, Les. But whatever floats your boat. I suppose it’s a different way to get your daily fiber in. He also claims Tiger Stadium’s grass is the best - he should write reviews.
2 Wayne Gretzky
The Great One is noted as the best hockey player in history. He’ll be remembered for his amazing point production and skill throughout the generations. Something that may slip through the cracks, however, is that Wayne had a very specifi c- and pretty unhealthy- eating routine. He would eat four hot dogs before each game with mustard and onions,and in between periods, he would drink a diet Coke, ice water and a Gatorade in order. Even Phil Kessel caught onto this and got a lot of flack for it. Phil, however, would only get one Hot Dog, but he’d eat it daily. Not sure if this is a superstition for him or if he just likes what he likes. Either way, Gretzky performed on this diet and while Kessel can certainly show up, he’s no 99.
1 Lyoto Machida
Lyoto has won 22 fights with nine knockouts and has definitely been one of the best in the UFC over the last decade. His insane habit is that he drinks his own urine every morning. He and his father believe in urine therapy, something that is very common in China and that has existed since the beginning of civilization. Before freaking out and going “EEEEWWWWWWWW” (which you likely already did), keep in mind this can have health benefits. It can potentially clear up things like acne, cleanse your blood and help your immune system. Advocates also claim that it could potentially decrease your risk of liver cancer and heart disease. On top of that, it could potentially be a remedy for things like polio, AIDS, rabies, the flu, arthritis, and a lot more. In the United States especially, people would be quick to reject the idea, but hey, maybe Lyoto, his father, and the rest of the world are on to something.