Kiko Alonso's oyster quest among Dolphins' quirky pregame rituals

Mollusks are on the menu on game weekends for Kiko Alonso. That's made much easier if the Dolphins are playing on a coast. Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports

DAVIE, Fla. -- Last Friday, as the Miami Dolphins prepared to leave for their road trip to Green Bay, linebacker Kiko Alonso expressed his frustration.

Not about facing the Packers -- about a pregame ritual he would have difficulty following in Appleton, Wisconsin.

All season, oysters have been on Alonso's pregame menu -- typically on Fridays for home games and Saturdays for road games.

When he’s in Miami, Alonso gets them from Finster Murphy’s in Fort Lauderdale. On the road, he finds a steakhouse with good oysters or a fish market.

The task is a little more difficult in northern Wisconsin in November.

“I ate a half-dozen oysters with him one time before a road game,” Dolphins safety T.J. McDonald said. “He has to find oysters before every game. He downs them pretty easily. It’s crazy to watch him down two dozen oysters. Kiko does a bunch of unusual things.”

Alonso contends he eats only 20 in one sitting. One teammate suggested he could try cheese curds or brats. Alonso shook his head. “I don’t know about that, man. I like oysters.”

The oyster feasts started this season for Alonso following advice from his brother, a personal trainer. He said oysters are high in protein, good for healing and provide other non-football health benefits.

“I like to put a little lemon on them and a little bit of hot sauce,” Alonso said.

Alonso, of course, isn't the only Dolphins player with a pregame routine.

‘Right leg, left leg’

Sometimes, a routine is as simple as unconscious repetition that becomes standard.

For special-teams ace Brandon Bolden, he says he gets dressed “right to left in everything” and he always starts with his pants.

“Right leg, left leg, right pad, left pad, right arm in pads, left arm in pads,” Bolden said. “It’ll be off if I do it otherwise.”

Center Daniel Kilgore says he also gets dressed the same exact way every game.

“I have to get taped by the same trainer every game and I put on my pads early in the locker room and just wait,” Kilgore said.

Time comes into play for several Dolphins' pregame rituals. Defensive lineman Ziggy Hood says he has to get to the stadium exactly three hours before the game and warm up every part of his body.

Gospel jams and meditation

Every Sunday morning, former Dolphins linebacker Martrell Spaight anxiously awaits news on if he’ll be active for that week’s game. If he knows he’s one of the 46 active players that day, his emotions go through the roof. That's life on the 53-man and game-day roster bubble, as he found out last Friday when he was released to make way for an extra offensive lineman.

Spaight signed with the Jaguars this week. But his routine has remained the same no matter where he plays -- he turns to his playlist of 50 to 60 soulful gospel songs to get his mind in the right place.

“I have to listen to gospel, man. It relaxes me. It’s what I grew up on. I’ll listen to it at home and on the way to the stadium,” Spaight said.

When Spaight reaches the stadium, he pulls out a meditation app on his phone and meditates for 10 minutes in the locker room.

“I usually don’t talk much on game day; that’s how you know I’m in my zone,” Spaight said.

No 'three grains of sand'

There is no Dolphins player more routine-oriented than defensive end Cameron Wake, and he describes his process as mostly mental. He says there are things he has to do to get himself ready every Sunday, such as talking to his family, but he wouldn’t consider himself superstitious.

“The people who supported me and kind of allowed me to be in the position I’m in, they’re my biggest fans, obviously. That’s probably the biggest thing before every game, no matter what it is. Just touching base with them and getting back to that foundation," Wake said. "Aside from that, the rest of the stuff is kind of monotonous; but that, where your heart is, is the only way to go out there on Sunday.”

Not every Dolphins player has a routine. Left tackle Laremy Tunsil, defensive end Robert Quinn and McDonald struggled to name something they do every game.

“Nah, I don’t have to drop three grains of sand before a game,” Quinn said.

Tunsil added: “I don’t think about anything -- just go out and play.”

There are plenty of odd rituals across the league. Tennessee Titans center Ben Jones leads a barefoot walk across the field in pregame, no matter the temperature. That includes their playoff game against New England last January, when the temperature was 24 degrees.

And the Dolphins' head coach? Adam Gase doesn’t do much himself or pay attention to his players' rituals, but he remembers Peyton Manning's meticulous routine from their Denver days together.

"When he first got there (in Denver), we kind of started doing his throwing routine, but he had to do less throws than what he did. Him and Marvin [Harrison] and Reggie [Wayne] and those guys were out there," Gase said. "I mean, it was like 100 throws. I think we were down to like 14 or something like that before the game. But then we quit going out because it was like every place we went, it was like a circus for him. He’s like, ‘I’m done.’"