NFL: New season draws bizarre superstitions from players and fans

    Wide receivers Victor Cruz (L) and Odell Beckham of the New York Giants engaged in a choreographed pregame handshake, one of many rituals which NFL players will embrace throughout the season.

    Story highlights

    • NFL players reveal odd superstitions
    • Fans also admit to strange behavior
    • Say it brings their teams good luck

    London (CNN)The NFL season kicks off Thursday, bringing a flurry of irrational rituals from players and fans with the power to drive a room full of scientists nuts.

    That's because bizarre activity designed to bring good luck has been operating in tandem with American football for years.
      "The most superstitious people in the world are NFL players," former New York Giants linebacker Brandon Short, who wore the same tee-shirt under his pads throughout his undefeated high school playing days, and halfway through college at Penn State, told CNN.
      "Eventually I had to let it go during my sophomore year," he admits. "We lost three games and I said, 'Okay I have to switch up; this isn't working anymore.'
      "When you find something that works you stay with it, and it morphs over time," adds Short, who now works in finance while living in London.
      Past and present NFL players have engaged in all kinds of preparatory rituals. Former New York Jets running back Curtis Martin read the same passage from the Bible before games, while current Giants star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. puts on a show of one-handed catches, including ones made from his back while lying in the End Zone.
      Former Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle John Henderson went a step further, imploring trainers to slap him across the face before stepping onto the field every Sunday.
      Short would keep things simple by sticking to the same pregame meal of egg whites, before dipping into the irrational by deliberately disposing of his hotel room key-card on the way to the team bus.
      How that translated to Giants wins is anyone's guess, although Short rode the habit all the way to the 2001 Super Bowl in his rookie season.
      "There were big games when I forgot to throw the key away, and I was sure that we lost simply because I forgot to throw it in the trash before the game," he recalls.

      Good vibes on game days

      NFL players even dictate who they allocate their game tickets to based on previous results, says Short.
      "If you are on a winning streak and you invite a certain group of people to a game, you invite those same people back to the next game because they are good luck," he says, adding that if there was a newcomer who showed up for a loss, he or she would not be invited back.
      "Sports is superstition; it's ritual," says Short, who played five seasons with the Giants and two with the Carolina Panthers. "That's also what practice is: You do the same stuff over and over again, and if it works then don't change it."
      And that goes for fans too.
      Ask most NFL diehards what they endure to generate good vibes on game days, and answers will vary between wearing worn-out jerseys, to arranging furniture in a certain way, to avoiding food that clashes with their team's colors.
      But it gets even weirder.