Pro athletes can be superstitious bunch. Many players will do whatever it takes to keep a hot streak alive, whether it's an individual one or a team winning streak. Michael Jordan wore his University of North Carolina shorts underneath his Chicago Bulls shorts in every game during his six-championship run. MLB Hall of Famer Wade Boggs ate chicken before every single game and took batting practice at the exact same time every day. Slugger Jason Giambi even wore a particular golden undergarment to bust out of slumps.
Today, of course, is Friday the 13th, so in honor of what some people believe is the spookiest and most superstitious day of the year, I dedicated this Smithology to finding some of the superstitions inside the Eagles' locker room ...
Remember that one of the Eagles' most memorable game in the past 15 years was powered by a superstition. On a scorching Texas day on September 3, 2000, the Eagles were propelled to victory by the power of pickle juice. Sure, the pickle juice was used to help keep the players cool, but it also had an other-worldly quality to it.
"My guess is that it was as much psychological for the players as it was physiological," said former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. "I think it convinced the players that if they drank the pickle juice, they wouldn't be dehydrated and they'd have an advantage, and I think psychologically, they believed that. I don't know if pickle juice does have any physiological benefits."
For the most part, the Eagles' locker room today was a little less superstitious than one might think. There were some of the small things that you'd expect to hear from professional athletes, like how Stephen Morris and E.J. Biggers like things the same way all the time.
"I wouldn't say I'm superstitious like baseball players are, but I would definitely say that you develop a routine and you really stick with that," Morris said. "Jump in the ice tub, hot tub, shower, all of that good stuff, then I just sit and listen to music. You've got to put your shoes on a certain way and your socks on a certain way. It's not bad, but it's a little ritual.
"I wear the same shirt (during a winning streak). Obviously it gets washed, but the same worn shirt no matter what the temperature is outside. Same everything. If you start winning a lot and getting all these wins in a row, you're going to just be wearing this one T-shirt.
Said Biggers, "On some things (I am), like some of the things I do before games. I don't really go out on the field. I try to stay inside and listen to music. Try to do the same little kinds of stretches. I mean it obviously might not be all the same. I get on the second set of buses. On our plane ride, sometimes (our seats) get switched, and I'll try to switch with somebody else to get mine back. I just do different things like wear a sleeve on my arm. Just different little things I guess.
"My birthday is on (June) 13, so my birthday has been on Friday the 13th before."
Then there were players like Bennie Logan , who doesn't have any superstitions despite being from Louisiana, a region of the country associated with Voodoo, Santeria and other supernatural practices.
Alex Smith: Hey Bennie, are you a superstitious person?
Bennie Logan: No, uh-uh.
AS: Not at all?
BL: Not at all.
AS: Any pre-game rituals?
AS: Nothing? You don't even sit in the same spot on the bus or on the plane?
BL: No, I don't really believe in any of that.
AS: Friday the 13th?
AS: Nothing with that either?
BL: Nope (laughs).
So just as I was beginning to feel down on my luck when it came to finding an odd superstition in the Eagles' locker room, I remembered the Jason Kelce doll hanging from Lane Johnson's locker earlier this season. The Eagles' offensive line had struggled to execute a bit during the first four games of the season, but things really started to turn around in the Saints game, which is right about when the Kelce doll showed up.
"I honestly don't know," Johnson told NJ.com back in early October. "I think Jason Peters or somebody put it up last week. We ended up winning, so I'm just going to keep it there.
"We had to make some sort of sacrifice to get something going. That's the closest thing we could get."
So with that in mind, I turned my attention to Kelce, the player whose likeness may have been the sole reason why the Eagles' offensive line began to play at a higher level. As you are about to read, Kelce dropped the secret as to some dark magic that has helped the Eagles win three out of their last four games, and it's a doozy. Alex Smith:Any pregame rituals?
Jason Kelce: I used to listen to Christmas music a lot. As of now, not really.
AS: You don't listen to Christmas music anymore?
JK: Not really. Some games I will, but it's not like I do it before every game. I used to do it a lot more.
AS: Gotcha. Any other guys on the team who are really superstitious?
JK: That's a good question. Who is superstitious? Oh, the one superstition I have is we do a morning walkthrough before the game. I always wear (offensive line coach) Jeff Stoutland's shoes for the walkthrough, and so far every time that I've worn his shoes this season, we've won. And the one or two times I didn't wear his shoes, we lost.
AS: How did you get his shoes?
JK: I forgot my shoes for one of the away games. I wore sandals.
AS: So he wore no shoes?
JK: He wore my sandals and I wore his shoes. His shoes are about two sizes too small, by the way.
AS: So I guess you are a little superstitious, if that's your one thing.
JK: To be honest, I don't think it really does anything. But I think it's always fun just to have one or two of those things as a team.
Doing a little bit of research on Coach Stoutland's magical shoes, I found this seemingly innocuous photo from 2013 Training Camp.
Even then, Stoutland's first year with the Eagles, people around him seemed envious of his shoes. Both Allen Barbre and assistant offensive line coach Greg Austin appear drawn to the shoes. Kelce's theory may not be so crazy after all.
So what did we learn today in Smithology? Bennie Logan has no time for silly superstitions, Stephen Morris at least washes his lucky shirts before wearing them each game during a win streak and Coach Stoutland's shoes have been the unheralded heroes of the Eagles' season.
Happy Friday the 13th, everyone, and have a good weekend.