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College elective: Rays sport football gear on trip

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays have never been afraid to stray from conventional Major League practices, so it came as no surprise when manager Joe Maddon asked his players to wear the jersey of their favorite college football team on their upcoming 10-game road trip to the West Coast.

"I would like to promote wearing it on each leg, and if you want to promote more than one team, that's fine," Maddon said. "I'm working on my Lafayette jersey."

Prior to Thursday's game -- which coincided with the start of the college football season -- 15 different jerseys could be spotted in the Rays' clubhouse, ranging from local teams like South Florida and Florida to hometown favorites like Sam Fuld representing New Hampshire.

Pitcher and Vanderbilt alumnus David Price spared no expense by throwing his Wednesday bullpen session in a full Commodores uniform, complete with a helmet and authentic ankle tape.

"I would play somewhere between water boy and long snapper, probably," Price said. "I played for two years before I wised up and figured it's best I left that alone."

Alabama natives Desmond Jennings, who had a football scholarship offer to Alabama, and Auburn fan Wesley Wright fell on opposite sides of the "Iron Bowl" rivalry, but a clubhouse fight did not erupt.

"There could be some brawling going on, there's no question," Maddon said. "I'm all for that. A nice friendly brawl within the clubhouse once in a while is OK when it comes to fighting over your favorite collegiate football team."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for Sam Strong is an associate reporter for
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