Pregame rituals and superstitions - extreme and not-so-extreme fans all seem to have them.
Maybe it's wearing the same stinky jersey for every game, or eating only orange foods until the game is over. But with Super Bowl XLVIII set for Sunday, many fans are sure a Denver Broncos victory against the Seattle Seahawks rests on their shoulders.
The Broncos website noted this month that quarterback Peyton Manning has his own game-day superstition.
"For the past two seasons, Peyton Manning, Eric Decker and Jacob Tamme have made a tradition of carpooling to the stadium on game days," wrote Gray Caldwell, editor of DenverBroncos.com. And the team has won nearly 85 percent of those games.
There's a fine line, however, between being superstitious and being obsessed.
Local sports psychologist Edward Chavez works with athletes whose pre-performance rituals sometimes cross the line into unhealthy territory. He sees that same behavior in some fans.
"They feel they have some sort of control over the outcome," Chavez said, "by wearing a certain hat or listening to music. In reality, they don't. It's interesting how fans have no influence on the outcome, but there's that false sense of control. That in itself is dysfunctional."
And though many tend to laugh at silly superstitions, it can be wise to keep an eye on a person's conduct.
"It could lead to destructive behaviors in their personal life, and to the point where family and friends are affected," Chavez said. "It also could affect their career. They may not take care of certain things and problems, their own responsibilities. It could start to impact on so many levels."
Josh Klapow, a clinical psychologist at the University of Alabama, told USA Today that there are several signs that indicate a fan might have crossed the line. Those include missing family events or other important obligations to watch a game, thinking about the sport while doing other things, getting irritated when the game is interrupted and becoming depressed, angry or violent when a team loses.
But with the Broncos set to take the sport's biggest stage, enthusiasm among fans in the Rocky Mountain region is growing. And, for some, that means doing their part to ensure a victory.
Sean Patrick Anglum has a checklist of pregame activities.
"Rum and coke out of a special 1977 Broncos glass," he wrote in a Facebook comment. "Lucky underwear, shirt, socks, shoes? Check! TV volume set to level 18? Check! Superstitious? Nah!"
Todd Karl and his wife, Kara, dress up their 8-month-old daughter for each game. And before the birth of their daughter?
"We would dress up our poor little dog Oscar," Todd Karl said in an email. "It's a good thing for Oscar that we had a baby because he's too fat now to wear his old doggie football gear."
The Karls have one other tradition they're not proud of, though.
"My wife has purchased three Broncos jerseys during the past five years," Todd Karl wrote, "and each of the players represented by her jerseys have left the team the following year. First (Jay) Cutler, then (Tim) Tebow and finally (Elvis) Dumervil. Because of her curse, she has resisted the temptation to buy any current player's jersey."
Captain Dan and Tammy Oakland, morning DJs at K-Lite 106.3 FM, both have game-day rituals.
For 10 years, Oakland has inflated a 5-foot inflatable Bronco boy on her porch.
"We've got to check on him during the game and make sure the wind hasn't tipped him over because that'll jinx them," she said.
"We panic to get home and put up the stuff before the game starts."
Captain Dan sits on his hardwood table.
"For years, we've had this huge table in front of the couch," he said. "I had my two daughters, and one went to University of Colorado and one went to Colorado State University. If their team wasn't doing well, they'd call home and ask if I was sitting on the table, and that they needed me to sit on the table. The same is true with the Broncos. We sit on the table and they seem to do OK."
For Kathy Allen, the fate of her team rests solely on her socks.
"I ransacked my house for an hour before the playoff game because I couldn't find one of my orange socks," she said. "I have worn them every game that they have won. Like they say, it's only weird if it doesn't work."
Contact Jennifer Mulson: 636-0270
Bud Light partnered with KRC Research for an online, quantitative survey with NFL fans ages 21 and older. More than 9,500 interviews were fielded among the 32 NFL fan bases. From those, an “NFL Fan Superstition Index” was formed.
The index calculates the superstition level of each NFL fan base based on each fan’s game-day habits — everything from wearing dirty jerseys and kissing team trinkets to superstition consistency and true belief levels — and aggregates those into a score from 0 to 100. The results were released this season. Read more at http://newsroom.anheuser-busch.com/budlightnfl/.
Here’s a look at the Super Bowl participants:
Denver Broncos (superstition ranking: No. 25)
• Seventy-seven percent of Denver fans (more than any other NFL fans) believe fellow Broncos are more superstitious than themselves.
• More than one-quarter of Broncos fans (26%) believe their superstitious activities actually affect the outcome of the game.
• Broncos fans rank fifth (4%) for having a relationship end due to their game-day superstitions.
• One in five Denver fans believe that not doing a game-day superstition has resulted in a Broncos loss (21%) or the opposing team scoring (20%).
• Forty-three percent of female Broncos fans watch the game with the same person
people to help the team win (compared with 31% of male Broncos fans).
Seattle Seahawks (superstition ranking: No. 31)
• Seahawks fans rank second-to-last in regard to letting their superstitious activities get in the way of them actually watching or enjoying the game.
• Seahawks fans are least likely to think that a missed touchdown or player injury is the result of their uncompleted superstition.
• Nearly half of Seahawks fans (49%) watch games in the same location and more than one-third (37%) watch with the same person
people to boost team performance.
• More than one-third (37%) of Seahawks fans wear the same article of clothing for a Seattle win.
• Nearly one-quarter of Seahawks fans (24%) believe their superstitious activities actually affect the outcome of the game.