Traditions, Superstitions And Stranger Things: A Look Into Sports Famous Quirks

Eric Urbanowicz
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In every sport, there’s always some sort of quirk. From college pre and post game traditions to professional players celebrating a scoring play with something totally unique to them. However, have you ever stopped and asked what it means or why?

Today we’ll take a look at some quirks in sports. Some of them you’ll know, others you may not have heard of. Either way, once they’re told, you can store them in your head for a local trivia night!


Legend of the Octopus

Though the city of Detroit has four major sports teams, they’re perhaps best known for their hockey team, the Detroit Red Wings. Since their foundation in 1926, the Red Wings have won 11 Stanley Cups, the most of any NHL team in the United States and the third most in all the NHL.

However, since 1952, the team’s had an interesting tradition come playoff time: throwing a dead octopus onto the ice.

The tradition started when two brothers, Jerry and Pete Cusimano, brought an octopus to the teams then home, Olympia Stadium. During the game, they threw the octopus onto the ice for good luck.

They figured that since the team needed eight playoff wins to win the Stanley Cup, each arm of the octopus represented one win. With that, a tradition was born.

While the amount of wins in the playoffs has changed since its inception, it’s become common place to see the octopus make an appearance during the playoffs. Despite pleas by the group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) to stop and even a ban by the NHL in 2008, it continues to happen.

It’s also inspired copy cats including plastic dead rats from Florida Panthers fans and dead catfish and ducks from Nashville Predator fans. Whatever the case, the original can’t be topped. Long live the octopus!


One Black, One White

Younger fans may only know quarterback Robert Griffin III as the back up to Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, or even the brief stint he had as the quarterback of the Cleveland Browns in 2016.

What they may not know was that he was the 2012 rookie of the year while with the Washington Redskins and went to the Pro Bowl in 2013. What all fans may not know is his practice tradition of wearing one black cleat with a black stocking on one leg and a white cleat with white stocking on the other.

During a practice in 2014, a Washington insider noticed this and raised the question why? “You know, that’s something I’ve done since college,” responded Griffin. “It’s called the yin and the yang. White and black working together, We’re all brothers, we’re doing it together.”

While it’s definitely not clear if this is the real answer or just an athlete playfully saying “mind your own business” it provided some entertainment. Unfortunately for RG3, he would be plagued by injury and poor performances which would lead to him being replaced by Kirk Cousins in 2015. While he may have looked balanced during practice, his career as a starter ultimately didn’t pan out.


Pittsburgh’s Blank Left Side

Every NFL team has a unique helmet. From tiger stripes to solid orange to at one point a two toned helmet, a football helmet has become more of a team’s identity than their own jerseys. One of the most bizarre helmets comes from one of the NFL’s most successful teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Many know their iconic logo: a circle with yellow, blue and orange diamonds based on the American Iron and Steel Institute logo. However, unlike most teams, their logo is on only on the right side of the helmet, with the left side left blank. Why is that? It was a test.

When the then Pittsburgh Pirates were rebranding to the Steelers in the 1940s, owner Art Rooney wasn’t sure how the new logo would look on their gold helmets. Rooney would then instruct equipment manager Jack Hart to only put the logo on the right side of the helmet to minimize the damage.

However, due to the popularity of the helmet and the success from that season (they finished with their best record in their existence at the time, 9-5), they kept it.

Years later they switched to the helmet from gold to black, and its remained that way ever since. They would only break out the gold helmets when they wore throwback jerseys, until its retirement 2012.

Eric Urbanowicz


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