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The Makeover of Matt Light
The good luck boys
The Many Beards of Matt Light Superstitious athletes do more than play the game; they follow rituals Matt Light, who believes his beard is good luck, is hardly the only superstitious athlete around. The annals of sport abound with players known for their irrational, obsessive-compulsive routines. Such habits range from the bizarre— Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Turk Wendell chews licorice and brushes his teeth between innings—to the benign, as in the case of NBA stars who slap the soles of their sneakers for good luck.

As it happens, some notably superstitious athletes have worn a Boston uniform. Longtime Red Sox third baseman Wade Boggs, whose stellar career included five batting titles and 12 all-star appearances, performed such a complicated and exacting regimen of rituals that it’s a wonder he ever got to home plate. Before every game, Boggs awoke at the same time in the morning and ate a meal of chicken (prepared the same way each time, of course) before heading to the ballpark. He would invariably take 150 ground balls during infield practice. Then, with the game under way and Boggs ensconced in the batter’s box, he would trace the Hebrew word chai (meaning “life”) in the dirt with his bat before finally turning his attention to the business of hitting.

Football players can be just as superstitious. They often get taped or massaged by the same trainer and in the same order for each game, especially in a winning season. If Matt Light decides that looking like a mountain man will help him bring home a third Super Bowl ring this year, you can bet that he’ll go for it—and save his sleek new look for off-season.