PITTSBURGH PA - JANUARY 23: Brett Keisel #99 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on against the New York Jets during the 2011 AFC Championship game at Heinz Field on January 23 2011 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Another baby, another bowl?
Keisel didn't exactly predict another trip to the Super Bowl for the Steelers Wednesday, but he has good reason to believe it might happen.
You see, every time Keisel welcomes a new child the Steelers win the AFC championship..."It's amazing," Keisel said. "Every time we've had a kid we've gone to the Super Bowl, so I want that trend to continue."
Keisel said the pressure is on William.
"I had my son, we won Super Bowl XLIII," he said. "I had my daughter and we lost the Super Bowl. I had another son and I expect us to win it."
First and foremost, in my official capacity as the distaff representative of the BTSC writers, I wish to congratulate Brett Keisel and his wife and welcome the newest Keisel into the world. I noted The Diesel's absence in the Eagles game, which Mike Tomlin said was for "family reasons." You can’t get much more family-related than a new addition to it.
Keisel's remarks got me thinking about sports superstitions, and I decided a quick article about some of the more bizarre ones might be fun. (To clarify, I don’t think Keisel’s correlation of his newborns with Super Bowls is bizarre at all. He’s way too large and strong a guy for me to suggest such a thing! But there is the issue of whether correlation equals causation...)
I’m only going to deal with the superstitions of players. Fan superstitions are a whole different subject, and we’ve had some amusing threads about what people do to allegedly change the luck during a game or season. For example, I have carefully archived the Terrible Towel I took to Baltimore for last season’s opening game. That’s not superstition, though, just good sense : )
Many (perhaps even most) players have game-day routines they don’t mess with.
According to Fact Monster, the most superstitious players are baseball players, and it’s easy to see why. But one of the items they mentioned for football players is interesting:
It's bad luck for a professional football player to take a new number when he is traded to another team.
I always assumed the reason players preferred to keep their old numbers was rather like the way everyone heads to the same chair at the dinner table, akin to a cow going to its accustomed stall. But I do recall Limas Sweed, during the 2010 off-season, asking for and getting a new number, in the hopes it would change his luck. And it did—he promptly tore his Achilles in the off-season. Luck is like that—it's probably best to specify good luck.
The article also states "a mascot is an important good luck symbol." Which makes me wonder about Steely McBeam and why they didn’t deep-six him after the 2009 season. It would have been the perfect opportunity!
Another superstition which crosses sports boundaries is the playoff beard. As Joseph Lin says in a Time article about sports superstitions,
Most notably — especially for a sport that prides itself on its clean-cut image — tennis great Bjorn Borg would grow out his beard for Wimbledon. The tradition resulted in five consecutive tournament wins from 1976-1980. Perhaps the World Anti-Doping Agency should add Rogaine to its list of performance-enhancing drugs.
Brett Keisel is, of course, is the front-runner in the history of the world for playoff beards. But something went wrong last year. I have a feeling he started it too soon, or too late, or accidentally let his wife touch it with a razor in early January.
Lin also mentions the Sports Illustrated cover jinx, and we could add to it the Madden jinx. Fortunately no Steelers have been featured recently. Lin writes:
SI tried to address the topic in a January 2002 issue. The magazine interviewed sports psychologist Jim Loehr who called the jinx "a failure to efficiently metabolize heightened expectations." In layman’s terms, the ‘jinxed’ cover subjects merely choked under the extra attention.
Don’t you love the way psychologists talk? It makes everything sound so scientific and important. I think I will use that line the next time someone in my chorus messes up in rehearsal.
Then there is the superstition which, as a Momma, I can’t approve—the don’t-wash-the-uniform/socks/underwear superstition. My son-in-law left his hockey bag behind once after visiting us, and I saw it and just chucked it in a cupboard until he asked me to bring it with me the next time I visited. It turned out there was a pair of used socks in it (and probably had been a good many pairs of used socks in it at one time or another.) When I opened the bag I almost passed out. It smelled like a cheese had died in unfortunate circumstances. I can’t imagine what the locker rooms smell like if many of the guys feel that way.
On the other hand, the author of an article on the AskMen website who was apparently too ashamed of it to append his name told the following story:
The reverse can be true as well. Minnie Minoso once blamed his uniform after going hitless in a game for the White Sox. As a result he showered with the uniform on following the game, and the next day he had three hits and was joined by the rest of his teammates fully clothed in the post-game shower.
And finally, let’s move from the gross to the really gross. In his article on the Top 15 Sports Superstitions for The Sports Bloc, author Thomas Armstrong gave the following his No. 1 pick:
1. Juan Manuel Marquez
Think urinating on your hands is bad? Juan Manuel Marquez used to drink his own urine. Marquez believed that drinking your own urine had tremendous health benefits and would aid in the recovery from intense workouts. Marquez has since stopped drinking his own urine from the recommendations of doctors.
There are other sports superstitions/rituals even less appropriate to a family-oriented website. One might argue BTSC doesn’t exactly fit this description, but since I’m writing in my Momma Rollett persona I’m going to leave it at that.
So in closing I will only say, "Go, Baby Keisel!"