The NFL Unmasked!

Oct. 31, 2005
Oct. 31, 2005

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Oct. 31, 2005

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The NFL Unmasked!

When it came to tackling Halloween, today's pro football stars once employed the best ghost offense

Edited by Kostya Kennedy

GROWING UP in Oak Park [Calif.] Texans defensive end Travis Johnson (head shot, below) had to hold his own: "I was 13 and people tried to jump me for my candy. I had to beat up like three dudes. I was dressed as me. I was the only black kid in the neighborhood. I went as a black person." ...

This is an article from the Oct. 31, 2005 issue Original Layout

Broncos safety Nick Ferguson, who grew up in Florida, recalls, "I wore one of those cheap, plastic Casper the Friendly Ghost costumes that cost about $3. It had the rubber band that squeezes the back of your head, and you had this little mouth hole to breathe out of. The mask was really sweaty. Come on, in Miami? I was dying. It got to the point where I put the mask on my head, with my face exposed, went to houses and said, 'Trick or treat. Sorry but it's too hot for that damned mask.' ...

Packers kicker Ryan Longwell (above) had his own costume mishap. "In second grade. I was going to be Batman," says Longwell, who grew up in Puyallup, Wash. "My mom made the whole costume: utility belt, Batarang, everything to the last detail. I was fired up. I practiced being Batman all week. I went to school, and after recess I came in and went to grab my costume and get dressed. The teacher stopped me and said, 'If you wanted to get in your costume, you had to do it during recess.' I was crushed. I cried the whole afternoon during the party, but Mrs. Gronen, man, she would not relent. I cried all the way back home, I got to my house and I cried all night." ...

Also on the superhero front: "It was a Halloween party during high school, and they had all these little suits there for little kids," says Titans receiver Brandon Jones. "They had a Superman costume for like a five-year-old. I squeezed into it. The pants started in the middle of my leg, it was real tight. I walked around in it all day. Everybody took pictures. It was in the yearbook." ...

In contrast, Raiders tackle Barry Sims, raised in Park City, Utah, thought big: "My senior year in high school I had a Frankenstein costume--with the big green feet. I was about 6'5". People were a little taken aback when they came to the door." ...

Fun-loving Steelers running back Jerome Bettis (below) had a naughty side as a kid. "Growing up in Detroit, we had bags of dog manure for the people who didn't have treats for us," he says. "We'd light it [outside their front door], and they'd come out and stomp it out. We would do that regularly." ...

Then there's prankster and Texans center Steve McKinney: "It was a small town--Centerville [Texas]--and we'd wrap our teachers' houses in toilet paper. That was fun. We'd throw eggs at them and stuff." ...

And finally there's the Halloween education that Ravens guard Keydrick Vincent (right) got as a kid in Lakeland, Fla.: "I was kind of chubby, and one year I went bag-snatching--but I got caught, and I got in trouble with my parents. I was dressed up with a white sheet, and I thought I was pretty fast, but you know a chubby kid and candy. [After I took the bag] I tried to run, but some little girl caught me." The 6'5", 325-pound Vincent says he has "learned his lesson" and is now better prepared. "I'm in better shape now," he says. "Those girls couldn't catch me."