Before Every Game I ...
WILL ALLEN, GIANTS CORNERBACK
"I HAVE to have two cheeseburgers the night before every game," says Allen, New York's top draft pick in 2001. "Weird, right? I started doing it when I was at Syracuse, and I had a good game. After that I would always order them." Allen, though, reminds himself that "you can't stuff yourself," and his images of injured Giants guard Rich Seubert are vivid. Allen says Seubert "used to throw up before every game for like 20 minutes straight. Craziest thing I saw. For me, I like cheeseburgers, but even if I don't eat them I still order them."
JOHNNIE MORTON, CHIEFS RECEIVER
THE DAY before games, says the 33-year-old bachelor, "I have my place cleaned. Everything has to be put away. My clothes are cleaned, and if they need pressing, I do it. I get my car cleaned inside and out, and then I put it in the garage and I don't take it out again until the next day when I'm driving to the pregame meal." Why the neat-freakishness? "In the game so much goes on that's not planned," says Morton. "It's often disorganized. To get ready for that I like a day when everything is in its place around me. Cleaned and where it should be."
FRED MILLER, TITANS LINEMAN
MILLER, IN his ninth year out of Baylor, writes LENTIL on his wrist tape as a reminder of an Old Testament story from the second book of Samuel. A warrior is sent to protect a lentil bean field and, in doing so, slays more than 100 men by himself. The warrior is so filled with the Lord's spirit that he never tires. The 6'7", 320-pound Miller heard a chaplain tell the story before a game when he was playing for St. Louis during his third year, inspiring a ritual that he is not likely to change. That season Miller began his current streak of 92 games started.
KEVIN MATHIS, FALCONS CORNERBACK
BEFORE EVERY game "my mom calls and leaves me a message," says Mathis, 30. "I make sure I don't answer. If I do, she says, 'Oh, you answered the phone. You know you're not supposed to.' On her messages she says different stuff like, 'Go out there and have a good game' or 'Work hard today.' She lets me know she's there for me." Mathis, who has a daughter, Kennedy, with his wife, Kimberly, says the calls started when he broke into the league with the Cowboys in 1997. "It's been eight years. She always does it, and I always call her after the game."
Issue date: October 25, 2004