Ashburn, Virginia. The shirt didn’t suit Washington Commanders wide receiver Terry McLaurin, but a bet is a bet.

He wore the colors of Michigan. Raised in scarlet and gray, the player was now required to wear maize and blue due to Ohio State’s loss to the Wolverine last year. Two days after the game, McLaurin appeared at a team meeting wearing a Michigan jersey with teammate Khaleke Hudson’s name and the number 7 on the back.

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It’s a ritual that plays out in every NFL locker room throughout the season: A player loses a bet because the college they played for lost to another teammate’s school. It’s not that money changes hands; it’s about pride. We are talking about the appearance in a T-shirt of another team or overalls. Maybe it’s a joy to see another player proclaim on video that the other side is the best. Or maybe he sees that even a GOAT can be humbled.

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“For me to pose in Michigan blue? It’s disgusting,” McLaurin said, repeating the last phrase a couple of times for emphasis.

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Of course, one of the first teammates to comment on McLaurin’s jersey was Commanders trucker Camaron Cheeseman, who also played in Michigan.

“You look good in our colors,” Cheeseman told him.

Even now MacLaurin shudders as he retells the story.

“It was a little awkward,” McLaurin said. “But that’s why guys do it, because your money comes and goes, but right to brag, you’re wearing the other team’s gear and should probably post it on social media… I would definitely rather lose my money than come in.” here in this Michigan blue just like last year.”

McLaurin eventually had the last laugh, pointing out how many times he had beaten the Wolverine in his five years at Columbus.

“I hate being that guy, they hit us, but I’m like, ‘When I was there, you didn’t hit me, Khaleke. I ride for Ohio State, that’s why they lost. But when I was there, I got five gold pants, if we’re really going to count that,” McLaurin said, referring to the gold talismans that Buckeyes players received for defeating Michigan.

McLaurin is far from the only one who must fulfill the bet. And while those scenes continue throughout the season, they intensify this week as a series of big rivalries kick off, like Ohio State-Michigan, Alabama-Auburn, and even Iowa-Nebraska.

“Schmediums look good”

GARBAGE TALK and the bets start because of a simple fact about NFL players.

“We’re competitive, that’s why we play this sport,” said Darren Hall, cornerman for the Atlanta Falcons.

Competition is part of being in the locker room, whether it’s arguing about basketball skills, cornhole games, or even ball laying contests. When it comes to their schools, it gets more intense. NFL teams choose their players, and players choose their colleges. Even though some players mention bets that can reach four figures, almost everyone says that it’s not about the money. They are proud; they are loyal.

“Someone in this program had to believe in you to get into the school,” said Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither. “And that led to you getting into the NFL. For me, it works hand in hand.”

Bengals coach Zach Taylor allows players to wear college clothes on Saturday outings, and it becomes clear who lost last week’s bet.

Arizona Cardinals linebacker Zach Allen, who went to Boston College, was forced to wear a Wake Forest jersey courtesy of wide receiver Greg Dortch after BC lost to Wake last month.

“The shirt was like a damn Wednesday,” Allen said. “However, I did it well. … There are no examples of Dortch and I going against each other, so it’s cool, it brings all 53[-man roster] together. People are investing because they like to see a 285 kg average guy.”

But, as his teammate Max Williams said, “The Shmediums look good.”

Williams needs to know: Former Minnesota Golden Gophers tight end lost his bet to teammate Trace McSorley, the former Pennsylvania quarterback. So he, too, wore a tight shirt that was one size smaller and therefore fitted to a medium size—hence the “shmedium.”

“It’s fun,” McSorley said. “It makes it easier.”

Cardinals quarterback Colt McCoy, a Texas graduate, looked grim in a Texas Tech T-shirt on social media earlier this year after a bet he lost to a pair of Arizona teammates.

However, Cardinals coach Cliff Kingsbury, who coached Tech from 2013 to 2018, was not one of those betting on McCoy.

“I assure you I don’t wear that burnt orange shit,” Kingsbury said.

But in the photo, he saw the pain on McCoy’s face.

“He looks like his dog died, man,” Kingsbury said.

In 2018, while playing for the Commanders, McCoy saw former Oklahoma player Tress Way wear a Longhorns jersey every day in and out of the stadium. They also had a fixed rate each year: a pack of six of their choice.

“It hurt,” Way said of the shirt. “But that’s the fun, the best thing is a student ball.”

Hall lost a bet to the Falcons running back to Avery Williams when Boise State beat San Diego State. Hall was going to give Williams an Aztecs backpack, maybe a hat. As he said: “Nothing crazy.” But Williams showed up in his Boise State jersey, so Hall wore it all day.

“I wore it because he is my favorite player,” Hall said.

“I could give him my helmet too, but I wouldn’t do that with him,” Williams said. “His big head probably wouldn’t fit in my helmet.”

Players watch games together in the cafeteria during Saturday night team dinners at the hotel. Commanders, for example, set up three televisions during team meals. On other occasions, individual groups gather in hotel rooms to watch matches.

“You don’t want your team to play and lose,” defenseman Shaka Toney said.

If you are, say, from Georgia, everyone is welcome. If they dare.

“That’s the worst part, because we’re all paid pretty well, so a $20 bet here and there isn’t as bad as having to wear the other team’s colors,” said Falcons linebacker Lorenzo Carter, who played in Georgia. “It’s hard to be a bulldog from Georgia. People see us, get scared and don’t want to make these bets. I didn’t win as much as I wanted because everyone is very scared.”

“Everyone Hates Bama”

THIS IS ALMOST UNIVERSAL in the locker rooms of the NFL: players cheer for Alabama. Which is also true: Crimson Tide players in many cases have a trump card that calms the conversation even after a rare loss.

After all, they have won six national championships since 2009 under coach Nick Saban.

Take, for example, New England Patriots linebacker Mac Wilson Sr. When the former Crimson Tide standout played the Cleveland Browns, he had to pay his bet to teammates Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. after Alabama lost to LSU in 2019. So Wilson showed up later that day wearing an LSU jersey. for team meetings.

But he also wore something else: jewelry. He took selfies with four championship rings, two on each hand, from his time in Alabama.

“Before I left home to go to the team hotel, I took all my rings and brought them to the hotel.” – Wilson, who won a national championship, two SEC championships, and an SEC West title in three years in Alabama. , said. “I wore them and fiddled with them all day.”

LSU defeated Alabama again this season. Two of Wilson’s Patriots teammates played in LSU: cornerback Jalen Mills and defenseman Daewon Godchaux. But Wilson was ready for them.

“I went 3-0 against them,” Wilson said.

Tony, a former Pennsylvania State All-Star and now on the Command Squad, summed it up like this: “Everyone in the NFL hates Bama. I like success. I respect what they do, but everyone hates Bama.”

The Commanders are four Alabama linemen, linebackers Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen, running back Brian Robinson and wide receiver Cam Sims.

Even though Alabama lost two games this season and a national championship game last year, it will take more to kill the Tide vibe in the NFL locker rooms.

“They are Bama until they are no longer Bama,” Tony said. “People give Bama slack because of their losses. But until you see years in a row – and it must be several years, it must be Bama, not like Bama. It’s hard”.

Teammate James Smith-Williams, quarterback, summed it up: “John and Payne have won about five national championships. What can you say to that?”

Jacksonville Jaguars forward Cam Robinson, another former Alabama player, said he knows who reigns supreme in the Jaguars locker room, despite rookie linebacker Travon Walker playing on the Georgia national team last year.

“You’re probably talking about the greatest college football dynasty,” Robinson said of Alabama. “It’s me and only me, to be honest. Josh [Allen] runs with his mouth [about Kentucky]; I don’t know why, it’s a basketball school. Travon can talk a little. Daniel Thomas [from Auburn] likes to talk a lot. Who knows why? He can’t say much.”

Falcons linebacker Rashaan Evans, who played in Alabama from 2014 to 2017, said teammates in the past were “too scared” to bet on him when their school played in Alabama. But running back Cordarrell Patterson had no qualms before his Tennessee Volunteers beat Alabama on Oct. 15.

Evans had to wear an orange and white plaid jumpsuit. This made him laugh. He also revealed once again the mindset of the Alabama players.

“Eventually it had to happen. I had fun because finally someone beat us. Sometimes it gets boring to win.”

“Invincible on the Mic”