In the world of football, pregame rituals are as diverse as the players themselves. While some athletes rely on superstitions such as wearing lucky gear or listening to a specific song, defensive lineman Clelin Ferrell has carved out a distinctive niche for himself with a ritual that takes him far from the football field and into the world of cinema.
The defensive lineman's love for movies began at an early age. Growing up as the youngest of nine siblings, Ferrell didn't have the typical childhood experience of watching pre-k cartoons. Rather, he became fascinated with whatever "grown-up" movies his older siblings played on the big screen.
"I was always the baby," Ferrell said. "So all my siblings always controlled the TV. I never had a chance to really pick what I wanted to watch. I wasn't the kid watching Teletubbies and stuff like that. I was watching He Got Game, Star Wars, all the things that adults would probably watch, those were the big deal."
Ferrell's connection to movies took a unique turn when he entered college and began playing for the Clemson Tigers. As he embraced his role on the football field, he found solace and inspiration in the world of cinema, and a ritual was born. The day before every game, Ferrell heads to the movie theater and indulges in classic film snacks.
"I'm big time," Ferrell said. "I get the popcorn, nachos, ICEE, the whole nine. And honestly, I mix all three flavors of ICEE – blue raspberry, cherry and coke – and I get a large. I'm even getting a hot dog for the movie. That's like my cheat meal for the week."
An NFL player's life consists of a highly regimented schedule of lifts, practices, meetings and treatment, and millions of people watch their every move on gamedays. Taking the time to disconnect and escape into a cinematic world gives Ferrell a reset for the upcoming matchup. His unique routine serves as a testament to the extraordinary ways in which athletes find their motivation, superstitions and pregame rituals.
"I just like to see whatever's out. That's my way of staying in tune with what's new because I really like cinema and the theater. Even when I'm in New York, I like going to Broadway shows. It's just a good thing, I get to take a step out of reality and step into somebody else's world. That's really why I like the movies."
This ritual has evolved into a superstition he refuses to break. Throughout his football career, he has never missed a trip to the theater before a game, except for just one special occasion when his family was in town and he shared a meal with them instead. His movie habits are a testament to the power of routine and how athletes often lean on certain practices to find the mental edge needed for peak performance.
"I don't miss my time in the theater," Ferrell said. "It's the one superstitious thing I have."
Taking a peek into Ferrell's movie world, the defensive lineman's favorite film at the moment is John Wick: Chapter 4 and his favorite genre is sci-fi. One of his most recent watches was Oppenheimer and he's already planning on what to watch next.
"In a lot of the previews they have a movie called Napoleon," Ferrell said. "I'm looking forward to that. That's going to be fire."