Ladies Man Leon Phelps used Courvoisier as a performance-enhancing drug. Washington Redskins Clinton Portis, Santana Moss, and the late Sean Taylor preferred Hennessy.
The retired running back said the pregame tradition of taking a shot started in Jacksonville, and resulted in 112 yards rushing for him and a 68-yard overtime touchdown reception for Moss. The trio continued with the cognac for more than a year.
The ritual gives new meaning to pregaming–or maybe it just combines the old meaning with the new.
“Prior to the game, on our way, we would take a little shot,” Portis told Washington’s NBC affiliate. “Not like going out and getting sloppy wasted; just adrenaline, you know, you take a shot and you were done with it. Me, Santana, and Sean, we did this for a year and a half before anybody knew. We never told anybody. It was just, hey, here’s a little sip, bam, that was it.”
The confession came as part of reflections on the life of Sean Taylor on the 10-year anniversary of his death.
The trio joined Kim Jong-Il, Steven Spielberg’s Oskar Schindler, and Digital Underground’s Humpty Hump (“I drink up all the Hennessy ya got on ya shelf”) as enthusiasts of the French brandy. And if Dock Ellis could throw a no-hitter tripping on acid, why can’t three grown men down Hennessy before running full speed at 11 men?
Then Redskins head coach Jim Zorn came up with a few reasons. The players faulted Zorn for killing the tradition following the murder of Taylor in an armed home invasion. Portis said Zorn dismissed the ritual as “taking sips for Sean,” an invocation of the deceased safety’s name that caused great offense. Zorn, for his part, perhaps thought Hennessy mixed better with Coke than football.
“It got to the wrong people,” Moss explained, adding, “It wasn’t meant to be told.”