College Sports

Fans Describe Odd Encounters With Athletes Before They Were Famous

Darren - March 24, 2021
College Sports

Fans Describe Odd Encounters With Athletes Before They Were Famous

Darren - March 24, 2021
Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

16. The Hunter

It’s odd to think of football players having childhood friends, but of course, they do. One Reddit user explained how his dad was good friends with a man who became a legendary NFL icon. Eapoe18 wrote, “My dad used to go hunting with John Riggins. While he was drunk and on Sundays (it’s illegal to hunt in VA on Sunday but we live in a rural area) Riggins would drive the 80 miles to DC, drunk, and still play.”

Mandatory Credit: Sports Illustrated

Obviously, we don’t advocate drink and driving – or drinking and playing football – these were different times. Riggins is an NFL hero. A former Super Bowl winner, he entered the Hall of Fame in 1992 because of his brilliant career. He was a Pro Bowler, as well as an NFL Comeback Player of the Year award winner. He led the league in rushing touchdowns twice.

Mandatory Credit: Sports Illustrated

15. BBQ Meatballs

One of the interesting things about these odd memories is the fact that fans gain a sense of these athletes and their personal character. It is interesting to discover their idiosyncrasies. Many fans in college towns work in restaurants to earn money. Sometimes they reminisce about the times they meet college stars and how they acted in these encounters.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

PresidentWhitmore described one future NBA star’s personalized takeout order. “He’s obviously better known for his NBA career than his college career, but Rik Smits (Marist 1984-1988, Indiana Pacers 1988-2000) used to come into the pizza place I worked at in high school about once a month. He’d order a dozen meatballs but he’d ask us to toss them in barbecue sauce instead of marinara.”

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

14. Gronk

Rob Gronkowski is one of the most celebrated party animals in NFL history. However, unlike many other athletes, fans speak about his misadventures with a sense of pride and admiration. While many of them are odd, they’re also always entertaining. This goes all the way back to his days in college with the University of Arizona. In short, Gronk was a wildman.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Final21 described one party which the future NFL icon attended.”I went to a party where Gronk was there with another UofA player. It was a cheerleader’s birthday party so that might explain it. Anyway, beat Gronk and his friend in beer pong, and then they got p***ed and started some drunken s**t. He and the other football player started wrestling and they’re just throwing each other around on the third floor of an apartment.”

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

13. Why So Salty?

Garrick Sherman developed a significant national profile during his time with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. However, he transferred there from Michigan State after he had problems with the team. While he never blossomed into an NBA star, he was great on the college stage. Giantasscar detailed the kind of odd treatment Sherman received as a member of the Spartans.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

One time, when Garrick Sherman was still on our team, the rest of the players poured like an entire shaker of salt into Sherman’s orange juice when he wasn’t looking. Sherman then proceeded to drink his salty OJ and shudder, asking everyone else if their juice was really salty. The rest of the players, through smirking faces, proceeded to convince Sherman that it must be his toothpaste that he was using that caused the saltiness.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

12. The Nicest Man

Sometimes pure luck creates opportunities for people. One Reddit user revealed how he met a future Atlanta Falcons icon before he was famous. The odd thing was that they didn’t even know each other. Dcmcdevitt said: “My cousin went to high school with Matt Ryan so one day we went to a game and got a tour of the locker room and met him. He was so nice, even invited us back to his place for dinner. His dad is the man too.”

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

This is interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s nice to hear that the Ryan family was so nice and genuine. But the other aspect that is fascinating is the fact that high school players know that they are on the path to greatness. Some young high school stars receive a lot of attention in their districts because everybody knows that they’ll be something special.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

11. The Bathroom

We’ve already talked about Peter Jurkin’s failures when it came to love. But the reality is that handsome future superstars often have an easier time attracting female attention than regular Joes. That was allegedly the case for John Wall during his time at the University of Kentucky. Some UK alumni confirmed that Wall knew how to get what he wanted and it wasn’t difficult for him.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

PotheadCallingUBlack revealed: “John Wall had this move where he would ask girls to show him where the bathroom was, and when they led him there, he would proceed to take them in and do whatever.” This is an interesting strategy but the odd thing is that the success rate is very low for normal people. However, Wall was already on the path to greatness.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

10. Let’s Smoke

“I offered my joint to the guy sitting on the couch next to me,” Faultlessjoint revealed. “I had no idea who he was at first. Eventually, we got to talking and turns out he was Nick Roach. Dude talked mad s**t about just about every other player in the Big 10, hilarious as f**k.” There is nothing quite like a house party to bring people together because they create some odd conversations.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Roach played college football at Northwestern before he entered the NFL in 2008. He went undrafted but the Chicago Bears picked him up and that’s where he spent the bulk of his professional career. The linebacker spent a significant chunk of time as a utility player but in 2009 he played 15 games. That was the largest total of his entire career. It seems like a was a funny man too.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

9. Dodge Ball

“Went to high school with Chad Henne,” MichaelIrvin said. “We weren’t friends or anything, but we had gym class together. One day we were playing dodgeball and from across the gym he launched a ball so hard that when it hit the wall it popped.” It just goes to show how much inherent power these young athletes possess. Henne was a superstar at Wilson High School so perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

A Super Bowl winner with the Kansas City Chiefs, Henne built a reputation as Patrick Mahomes’ backup. However, his early days were stunning as he helped his high school team go unbeaten through 10 games. His national profile surged as a consequence of this and he even started as a freshman for Michigan in college. But it turns out he was a mean dodgeball player too.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

8. As I Lay Dying

It’s odd but it’s easy to forget that college athletes also study. Or at the very least, they are supposed to. One Reddit user explained that he tutored the Morris twins in literature. Dofleini revealed: “I shared classes with the Morris brothers I was in multiple classes with Marcus and Markieff Morris. I taught both of them Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. Marcus called him a cracker. I lost it.”

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The Morris twins both chose American Studies at the University of Kansas. As Faulkner is one of the great writers of the twentieth century, it’s so surprising that they read, or at least attempted to read, his novels. However, it also proves that many sports stars use college as a means to an end. A lot of them simply aren’t invested in their studies and just want to make it through to the draft.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

7. Bad Trade

Some stories are too good to pass by. Jim Harbaugh is one of the more famous college coaches out there while his son Jay is also a football coach. Reddit user Nastylep described his friendship with the younger Harbaugh and how it created tensions between their families. However, the wedge between them was created by something incredibly odd. This was about Pokemon cards.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

“Pokemon cards were the biggest fad in the country at this time – Pogs had been phased out,” the NFL fan said. “At one point, I managed to trade his Blastoise from him. Jim came to my house later after finding out about the lopsided trade, reamed out my parents, and demanded we swap cards back.” To be fair, this was totally reasonable of Harbaugh because Pokemon cards are serious business.

Mandatory Credit: Sports Illustrated

6. Tailgating

Many college athletes receive fame even if they don’t make it into the major leagues. In fact, many people follow NCAA tournaments more passionately than the NFL or NBA. Furthermore, it means that it can be easy to encounter somebody with a following. However, in one case, it was a Kansas City Jayhawk who was doing the following, much to the displeasure of one driver.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

TurdFurgeson22 explained: “Another friend was getting tailgated by Justin Wesley so he pulled over and threw his wallet at Justin’s car (still not knowing it’s him). Justin stopped and got out of the car, at which point my friend said “hey you’re Justin Wesley” and they both got back in their cars.” The surprise of seeing Wesley totally deescalated the odd situation.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

5. Extremely Smart

We already spoke about how the Morris twins were not totally dedicated to their studies. However, this isn’t the case for many sports stars. In fact, odd as it may seem, many are very intelligent people. They are perfectly capable of doing other things but preferred to focus their energy on one profession that pays very well. In the case of Robert Turbin, he was a great student.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Aristocrat_user revealed: “I was the math and statistics tutor of Robert Turbin, Seahawks RB at Utah State University. Was an extremely smart guy, could solve tough problems fast, and had a quick learning ability. Was way better than the other student-athletes that I tutored. I didn’t care about football then. I didn’t know that he was a famous person in college.”

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

4. Big Eater

Victor Oladipo is allegedly a very nice man but he features on this list for a second time for this reason. However, this fan’s encounter with the future NBA superstar was certainly odd in comparison. He explained that Oladipo eats an incredible amount of food. Obviously, athletes fuel their bodies to ensure recovery and refill energy levels. But it still surprises people to see how much they can consume.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

“My high school took a trip to IU to go to the library and saw Oladipo with a huge tray of food,” ma6ic wrote. Multiple sandwiches, soups, sides, it was pretty much enough for a family of four. The group got star struck, went away for 10 minutes, come back to see him walking out the door. Dude eats a ton.” It seems like there is a lot to like about Oladipo.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

3. Wall Breaker

“Jake Long threw me into a wall in Michigan about two years ago. He is very strong,” Vgman20 wrote on Reddit. This is a ludicrous statement and it sounds like there is a fantastic story behind it. One thing that we can all agree on is the fact that Long is definitely a very powerful individual. It’s not odd to imagine him smashing an ordinary human being through a brick wall.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Despite playing both basketball and football in college, the hulking Long agreed to play for the Wolverines. An offensive tackle, he also had a great professional career in the NFL. A four-time Pro Bowler, Long represented his franchise with distinction. At 322 lbs and standing at six-foot-seven inches tall, Long was truly a monster of a human being. Don’t mess with him in a bar.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

2. So Obvious

Michigan’s basketball scandal was a massive news story when the full story emerged. Basically, boosters bribed athletes to sign by buying them expensive gifts and laundered money through their young stars. However, according to one Michigan alumnus, the writing was on the wall. He found it more surprising that it took so long for the world to discover the plot.

Mandatory Credit: Sports Illustrated

“While I was at Michigan I would see Albert White drive around in a brand new Jaguar,” way2gimpy wrote on Reddit. “We knew it was only a matter of time before the team got busted (football teams was always cleaner – or better at hiding it).” Of course, Michigan definitely wasn’t the only school to follow such practices but it’s odd that they were so open about it.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

1. “Awesome Guy”

“Chris Spielman is an awesome guy,” Sterling_Archer_ISIS wrote on Reddit. “My grandmother was probably his biggest fan, starting when he was in high school. She met him many times and he was always a great guy and knew her by name. I also met him through her, and he signed a bunch of stuff for me and took pictures. He even sent flowers when my grandmother passed away, which was absolutely amazing.”

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

It’s odd to think that somebody’s grandmother was the reason a person made a connection with an elite athlete. But in this case, that was the situation. Spielman’s behavior in this situation deserves a lot of respect because he sounds like a very kind human being. The Detroit legend definitely represented his family in a positive manner. It’s a good story.

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