How faculty rivalries spill into NFL locker rooms

ASHBURN, Va. — The shirt didn’t look proper on Washington Commanders receiver Terry McLaurin, however…

How faculty rivalries spill into NFL locker rooms

ASHBURN, Va. — The shirt didn’t look proper on Washington Commanders receiver Terry McLaurin, however a wager’s a wager.

He placed on Michigan colours. A participant reared in scarlet and grey now needed to don maize and blue due to Ohio State’s loss to the Wolverines final 12 months. Two days after the sport, McLaurin confirmed up in a crew assembly carrying the Michigan prime with teammate Khaleke Hudson’s identify and No. 7 on the again.

It is a ritual that performs out in each NFL locker room in the course of the season, a participant dropping a wager as a result of the school he performed for misplaced to a different teammate’s faculty. It is not about cash altering arms; it is about satisfaction. It is about exhibiting up in one other crew’s shirt — or overalls. Perhaps it is the enjoyment of seeing one other participant proclaiming on video that the opposite aspect is the most effective. Or perhaps it is seeing even the GOAT may be humbled.

“For me to pose in Michigan blue? That is nasty,” McLaurin stated, repeating the final line a few occasions for emphasis.

In fact, one of many first teammates to touch upon McLaurin’s shirt was Commanders long-snapper Camaron Cheeseman, who additionally performed at Michigan.

“You look good carrying our colours,” Cheeseman advised him.

Even now, McLaurin shudders when retelling the story.

“It was sort of embarrassing,” McLaurin stated. “However that is why guys do it, as a result of your cash, that comes and goes, however the bragging rights, you carrying the opposite crew’s gear and probably having to put up it on social media. … I positively would moderately lose my cash than are available in right here in that Michigan blue, like final 12 months.”

McLaurin ultimately obtained the final giggle, although, pointing to the variety of occasions he beat the Wolverines over his 5 years in Columbus.

“I hate to be this man, they beat us, however I am like, ‘Once I was there you did not beat me Khaleke.’ I trip with Ohio State, so that they misplaced. However once I was there, I obtained 5 gold pants if we’ll really matter it,” McLaurin stated, referring to the gold charms given to Buckeyes gamers for beating Michigan.

McLaurin is hardly alone in having to honor a wager. And whereas these scenes go on all through the season, it intensifies this week with a variety of huge rivalries — resembling Ohio State-Michigan, Alabama-Auburn and even Iowa-Nebraska — kicking off.

‘Schmediums look good’

THE TRASH TALK and bets begin due to a easy reality about NFL gamers.

“We’ve got a aggressive nature, that is why we play this sport,” Atlanta Falcons nook Darren Corridor stated.

Competitors is part of being within the locker room — whether or not it is arguing over basketball abilities, cornhole video games and even placing contests. In terms of their faculties, it will get extra intense. NFL groups decide their gamers, however the gamers picked their schools. Despite the fact that some gamers point out bets that might attain 4 figures, nearly all stated it wasn’t about cash. They’re prideful; they’re loyal.

“Any person at that program needed to consider in you to get you within the faculty,” Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither stated. “And that translated into you attending to the NFL. It really works hand in hand to me.”

Bengals coach Zac Taylor permits gamers to put on their faculty swag throughout Saturday walk-throughs, and it is apparent who misplaced a wager from the earlier week.

Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Zach Allen, who went to Boston School, needed to put on a Wake Forest T-shirt, courtesy of vast receiver Greg Dortch, after BC misplaced to Wake final month

“The shirt was like a frickin’ medium,” Allen stated. “I made it look good although. … There are not any examples of Dortch and I going towards one another, so it is cool stuff like that, it brings the entire 53[-man roster] collectively. Folks get invested as a result of they get pleasure from seeing a 285-pound man in a dimension medium.”

However, as teammate Maxx Williams stated, “Schmediums look good.”

Williams ought to know: The previous Minnesota Golden Gophers tight finish misplaced his personal wager to teammate Hint McSorley, a former Penn State quarterback. So he, too, wore a skin-tight shirt that was one dimension too small and due to this fact a good medium — therefore “schmedium.”

“It is enjoyable,” McSorley stated. “It lightens it up.”

Cardinals quarterback Colt McCoy, a Texas alum, regarded glum whereas carrying a Texas Tech shirt on social media earlier this 12 months — due to a wager misplaced to a pair of Arizona teammates.

Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury, who coached Tech from 2013 to 2018, was not a type of who wagered with McCoy, nonetheless.

“I am not carrying that burnt orange s—, I can guarantee you,” Kingsbury stated.

However he noticed the ache in McCoy’s face within the picture.

“He seems like his canine died, man,” Kingsbury stated.

In 2018, when McCoy performed for the Commanders, he obtained to see former Oklahoma punter Tress Approach put on a Longhorns shirt every single day out and in of the power. Additionally they had a standing wager yearly: a six-pack of their selection.

“It was painful,” Approach stated about carrying the shirt. “However that is the enjoyable of it; faculty ball is the most effective.”

Corridor misplaced a wager to Falcons operating again Avery Williams when Boise State beat San Diego State. Corridor was going to offer Williams an Aztecs backpack, perhaps a hat. As he stated, “Nothing loopy.” However Williams confirmed up together with his Boise State jersey, so Corridor wore all of it day.

“I sported it as a result of he is my favourite participant,” Corridor stated.

“I might have given him my helmet, too, however I would not do this to him,” Williams stated. “His huge head in all probability could not slot in my helmet.”

Gamers watch video games collectively within the eating room throughout crew meals Saturday evening on the resort. The Commanders, for instance, have three TVs arrange throughout crew meals. Different occasions particular person teams will collect in resort rooms to observe video games.

“You don’t need your crew taking part in and dropping,” defensive finish Shaka Toney stated.

When you’re from, say, Georgia, all comers are welcome. In the event that they dare.

“That is the worst half, as a result of all of us receives a commission fairly nicely, so a $20 wager right here and there may be not as dangerous as having to put on the opposite crew’s colours,” stated Falcons linebacker Lorenzo Carter, who performed at Georgia. “It is onerous being a Georgia Bulldog. Folks see us and get intimidated and do not need to make these bets. I have not gained as a lot as I needed as a result of everybody’s fairly scared.”

‘All people hates Bama’

IT’S ALMOST UNIVERSAL in NFL locker rooms: Gamers root towards Alabama. What’s additionally true: The Crimson Tide gamers have the trump card in lots of circumstances that quiet conversations even after a uncommon loss.

In any case, they’ve gained six nationwide championships since 2009 below coach Nick Saban.

Take New England Patriots linebacker Mack Wilson Sr., for instance. When the previous Crimson Tide standout performed with the Cleveland Browns, he needed to repay his wager to teammates Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. after Alabama misplaced to LSU in 2019. So, Wilson confirmed up later that day carrying an LSU T-shirt to crew conferences.

However he additionally wore one thing else: jewellery. He snapped a selfie carrying 4 championship rings, two on every hand, from his time at Alabama.

“Earlier than I left the home to go to the crew resort I made positive I grabbed all my rings and introduced them to the resort,” Wilson, who gained a nationwide championship, two SEC championships and an SEC West title in his three years at Alabama, stated. “I wore them and I used to be messing with them the entire day.”

LSU defeated Alabama once more this season. Two of Wilson’s Patriots teammates performed at LSU: cornerback Jalen Mills and defensive deal with Davon Godchaux. However Wilson was prepared for them.

“I went 3-0 towards them,” Wilson stated.

Toney, a former Penn State standout now on the Commanders observe squad, summed it up: “All people within the NFL hates Bama. I like success. I respect what they’re doing, however all people hates Bama.”

The Commanders have 4 gamers from Alabama — defensive linemen Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen, in addition to operating again Brian Robinson and receiver Cam Sims.

Regardless of Alabama dropping two video games this season and the nationwide championship recreation final 12 months, it would take extra to kill the Tide’s vibe in NFL locker rooms.

“They’re Bama till they are not Bama no extra,” Toney stated. “Folks give Bama slack for his or her losses. However till you see consecutive years — and it must be a number of years; it must be Bama do not appear like Bama. It is robust.”

Teammate James Smith-Williams, a defensive finish, summed it up: “Jon and Payne have like 5 nationwide championships. What are you able to say to that?”

Jacksonville Jaguars offensive deal with Cam Robinson — one other ex-Alabama participant — stated he is aware of who reigns supreme within the Jags’ locker room, despite the fact that rookie linebacker Travon Walker performed on Georgia’s nationwide championship crew final 12 months.

“You are speaking about in all probability the best faculty soccer dynasty ever,” Robinson stated of Alabama. “It is me and solely me if I am being trustworthy. Josh [Allen] runs his mouth [about Kentucky]; I do not know why, it is a basketball faculty. Travon can speak somewhat bit. Daniel Thomas [from Auburn] likes to speak so much. Who is aware of why? He cannot actually say a lot.”

Falcons linebacker Rashaan Evans, who performed at Alabama from 2014 to 2017, stated up to now teammates have been “too scared” to wager him when their faculty performed Alabama. However operating again Cordarrelle Patterson had no such qualms earlier than his Tennessee Volunteers beat Alabama on Oct. 15.

Evans needed to put on orange and white checkered overalls. It made him giggle. He additionally revealed, as soon as once more, the mindset of the Alabama gamers.

“It was sure to occur ultimately. It was enjoyable for me as a result of lastly somebody beat us. It will get boring profitable generally.”

‘Undefeated on the mic’

FALCONS LINEBACKER WILL Compton developed a popularity within the NFL for one factor specifically: defending Nebraska, which is the place he performed from 2008 to 2012.

Compton turned his orator abilities into the favored “Bussin with the Boys” podcast, the place he made the case this summer time for an 11-1 season by the Cornhuskers. They’re 3-8. Final 12 months, he dubbed them the most effective three-win crew in faculty soccer historical past — it did not win any bets, however it did shut down some arguments.

Whereas Nebraska was 48-20 throughout his 5 years in Lincoln, the college has solely three profitable seasons since, and none since 2016.

“One factor I at all times stated about Compton: He was undefeated on the mic,” Approach, who was teammates with Compton in Washington, stated. “He might be useless improper and discover a solution to win the argument. It could be him towards the entire locker room. He was the most effective in that regard.”

This is how Compton did it:

“A bunch would collect round me and I would catch one one who laughs or chuckles whose crew obtained destroyed,” he stated. “I would defend myself and instantly level on the different loser within the room and get the highlight on him and throw seven completely different sorts of smoke on that man till nothing was stated about Nebraska.”

However even Compton has to pay up on his bets. And he is aware of the payoff may happen once more this week when Iowa performs Nebraska, courtesy of his yearly wager with San Francisco 49ers tight finish George Kittle.

If Nebraska loses for the eighth consecutive time to the Hawkeyes, Compton will document one more video. In it, he’ll need to proclaim Iowa’s superiority and shout out the Hawkeyes on social media as soon as once more.

In 2020, Compton regarded as if he was being compelled to learn an announcement on video. After declaring he wasn’t going to “discuss me being 2-0 [against Iowa], getting participant of the sport one 12 months; that is irrelevant,” Compton took a deep breath and regarded away from the digicam.

“They’re the massive brother of the border. They’re the extra superior program.”

9 seconds handed earlier than he continued.

“I want I had dedicated to Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa Hawkeyes again in 2008, and I want I had by no means went to Nebraska as a result of Iowa is the higher soccer crew.” He then known as Kittle a “sick SOB” for making him do the video.

However Compton is not about to alter.

“I s— speak,” he stated. “I nonetheless get texts from guys I performed with. They’re going to inform me they tune in to see what Nebraska is doing — once they’re doing dangerous they’re going to shoot me a message. They’re going to inform me they need to see in the event that they’re profitable or dropping to know what mind-set I will be in.”

Nor are gamers on different groups about to alter. They get pleasure from it an excessive amount of.

“Undoubtedly it is enjoyable,” Wilson stated. “It is nearly every single day somebody brings up some story from faculty, whether or not it is about them or typically. We’re at all times speaking trash.”

Undefeated towards the GOAT

IN EIGHT SEASONS taking part in with Tom Brady in New England, there’s one recreation former NFL security Nate Ebner by no means misplaced: the Ohio State-Michigan recreation. Yearly, Brady, maybe Michigan’s most well-known soccer alum, was satisfied it was The 12 months. It wasn’t. So, eight occasions he needed to repay a wager to his teammate from Ohio State.

After some time, Ebner, who performed with Brady from 2012 to 2019, needed to be extra inventive in what he requested Brady to do after a Michigan loss. And since there have been two Ohio State gamers and two Michigan gamers concerned, Ebner knew what to do: Have them strike an O-H-I-O pose. Brady shaped the H; defensive lineman Chase Winovich was the I, and ex-Buckeye John Simon bookended the O’s with Ebner.

“[Winovich] might be some of the annoying Michigan gamers of all time,” Ebner stated. “There was nothing higher than to see him do it with us.”

It led to a photograph Ebner posted on his Instagram web page. It wasn’t the primary time Brady needed to swallow his satisfaction after a wager, both: In 2012, he wore then-teammate Mike Vrabel’s Ohio State jersey over his pads in observe.

Seven years later, it was Ebner’s flip to strike a pose with Brady that Ohio State followers adored. He stated Brady was sport for paying off the wager. He says Brady is the most effective quarterback of all time, however Ebner is aware of he has an higher hand in a single space. And by the point Michigan beat Ohio State final 12 months — its first win since 2011 — Ebner was on to the Giants and Brady was with Tampa Bay.

“You’ll be able to see the look on his face like, ‘I can not consider I am doing this proper now,'” Ebner stated of the 2019 picture. “He did not have so much to say, however he did say, ‘I am by no means going to reside this down.’ … Perhaps I might get with some charities round Columbus to lift cash with that image as a result of it is such a particular Ohio State image. Perhaps in the future I am going to get Tom to signal a replica for me.”

Mike Rothstein, Ben Child, Mike Reiss, Josh Weinfuss and Michael DiRocco contributed to this story.