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Rituals

Before Every Game I...

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  Samari Rolle
Samari Rolle
Ronald C. Modra

SAMARI ROLLE
Titans Cornerback

File it under news of the reek: Rolle, 28, sleeps the night before games in a Florida State T-shirt that he hasn't washed in 11 years. "It doesn't smell too bad," the seventh-year pro says of the shirt (right), part of his pregame pj's since he was a Seminole freshman. "My wife, Danisha, puts it out for me. On road games it's the first thing I pack. I've forgotten deodorant, lotion -- never the shirt. Teammates sometimes say, 'That's an old shirt.' It's got rips and stuff, but I'm not going to change what I do. It reminds me of the standard I've got to maintain. After I retire, I might frame it."

AHMAN GREEN
Packers Running Back

"I watch a highlight tape of Walter Payton," says the three-time Pro Bowl pick, who with 6,601 career rushing yards is 10,125 behind Sweetness. "It gets me focused on what I need to do as a running back and as a team player." Payton first inspired the future Packer when Green was a high schooler in Omaha: "He was the kind of runner I was. Scrappy. I never went down easy." Green's ritual will have particular resonance before Green Bay's Jan. 2 game in Chicago. "When I go down to Soldier Field," he has said, "it's almost like I've got to show him, because I know he's watching."

TOMMIE HARRIS
Bears Defensive Tackle

The rookie, whose father, Tommie Sr., is a Pentecostal minister in Killeen, Texas, writes PSALM 91 on his Breathe Right strip. "I've been writing scripture on my nose -- and I have a big nose -- since I was in college," says Harris, whose current Psalm matches his jersey number. Harris especially likes one passage: Though a thousand fall at your side/Ten thousand at your right hand/Near you it shall not come. "We're talking about protection," he says. "It's dangerous out there, but He will protect me." Opponents don't ask about the Psalm, Harris says, "but you can see them looking at it."

SHAUN ALEXANDER
Seahawks Running Back

Since his days at Boone County High in Florence, Ky., Alexander has phoned his older brother Durran three hours before kickoff. "We go over the Five Alexander Rules of Football," says Shaun, 27. "Rule 1: 'Never fumble.' Rule 5: 'Go score.' The other rules are just brother jokes." Durran, 28, also critiques Shaun's play and gives him advice for the game. "The funniest thing he does is, he has a song playing in the background, and the words always mean something," says Shaun. "Like he's played Break the Walls Down by Sevendust. He's a coach, a fan, a brother and a critic rolled into one."

Issue date: December 13, 2004

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