LSU and Alabama alums in the NFL can’t let go of their college gear

LSU and Alabama are playing tonight. Can the Tigers pull out the win? Well, my head says “no,” but my heart says… well, it says “no” too. I hope I’m wrong, but the analyst in me doesn’t see a way forward in this one.

So with that bleak assessment, we can move on to peripheral things. A couple of former players for LSU and Alabama are now teammates on the Cincinnati Bengals–Brandon LaFell and AJ McCarron. And it turns out that they are both still wearing their pads from college.

Underneath that sad Cincinnati orange, LaFell is sporting Purple and Gold, and McCarron red and black. Why? They claim they fit better than new pads, but they also admit that there is more to it than that. ESPN reports:

LaFell, 30, and McCarron, 27, attended rival schools, but they didn’t play at the same time.

Their colleges are clearly still close to their hearts. During the bye week, LaFell returned to Baton Rouge to celebrate LSU’s 2007 national championship team, and stayed on the sideline the entire game.

The pads he wears today are the same pads he wore when he caught a touchdown pass in the BCS National Championship Game to beat Ohio State that year. He has kept them through stints with the Panthers, Patriots and Bengals. He refuses to get rid of them.

“I’ve been wearing those pads since 2006,” LaFell said. “I had to get them refurbished when I got to New England because they were falling apart. Those are my babies. I’ve been wearing those since day one and I’m not changing.”

I totally get it. I only played football through high school, and I can still remember my last game during my senior year. After the game was over, I walked around talking to as many people as I could, lingering around the field. I didn’t want to take my pads off. I didn’t even want to take my mouthpiece out. I knew it was the last time I’d ever wear them, and I didn’t want it to end.

I know it’s different, and I can imagine that LaFell and McCarron have an even greater reluctance about casting off the gear they wore in their national championship runs. Who would want to shed that gear for the last time? I wouldn’t.

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