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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

Broncos May Lead the League in Superstitions

December 30, 1996|MAL FLORENCE

Habits are hard to break and so are superstitions, especially if you're a member of the Denver Broncos.

Take quarterback John Elway, for example. He has been in the same seat on an airplane for 14 years--second row from the back and on the aisle.

John Henderson of the Denver Post writes of other pregame rituals of the Broncos. A sampling:

Defensive tackle Maa Tanuvasa takes a green tea leaf, considered good luck in his native Hawaii, and places it in his sock.

Running back Terrell Davis takes a bath--not a customary shower--and guard Brian Habib never brushes his teeth preceding a game. Linebacker Bill Romanowski takes a a taxi to the stadium and Anthony Miller must catch the last pass thrown to him during warmups.

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Add superstitions: They're not confined to the Broncos. Cornerback Lionel Washington recalls that when he played for the Raiders, his teammate, Rikki Ellison, would lie on the floor before a game and rub a rock that he acquired in New Zealand all over his body.

"That was the strangest thing I've seen in 14 years," Washington said.

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Trivia time: The Broncos have been the losing team in four Super Bowls. Who were their opponents?

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Wake-up call: Buffalo Bill linebacker Chris Spielman isn't necessarily superstitious, but he sometimes prepares for a game by inhaling smelling salts.

Moreover, He routinely performs pass-rushing techniques on garbage cans. He also turns the heat on high in his truck on a hot summer day as a personal test.

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He won't go away: The Washington Bullets are expected to waive journeyman Matt Fish, a former Clipper, who has already played for four NBA teams along with a stint in the Continental Basketball Assn.

Fish isn't seemingly disturbed, saying he'll likely catch on with a new team within weeks.

"I keep coming back," Fish said. "Kind of like herpes."

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Looking back: On this day in 1979, the Rams defeated the Cowboys, 21-19, in an NFC Divisional playoff game in Dallas. Los Angeles later lost to Pittsburgh, 31-19, in Super Bowl XIV at the Rose Bowl.

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Trivia answer: Dallas in 1978, the New York Giants in 1987, Washington in 1988, and San Francisco in 1990.

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And finally: Underdog Northwestern got a good omen Saturday for its Citrus Bowl game against Tennessee on New Year's Day in Orlando, Fla. The Wildcats won the annual Squeeze-off.

The event matches four-man teams from each bowl participant in a contest to squeeze the most juice out of a stack of Florida-grown oranges. Tennessee won last year's Squeeze-off against Ohio State and won the game. The Wildcats out-squeezed the Volunteers, 223 ounces to 215.

Said Northwestern Coach Gary Barnett: "Our juices were flowing."

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