Taylor Swift and a pitching wedge: Inside this QB’s superstitions

Car ritual one. Derek Anderson had to drive to home games. When he played for the Carolina Panthers, he’d pick up, at various points, teammates Luke Kuechly, Ryan Kalil, Greg Olsen, Mike Remmers and J.J. Olsen, too. Car ritual two. Music. At the same point on their drive to Bank of America Stadium, a 235-pound quarterback, a 238-pound linebacker, a 300-pound offensive lineman, a 255-pound tight end, a 310-pound offensive lineman and a 235-pound long snapper had to listen to the same artist. 

Taylor Swift. 

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“I’d look at Greg, and I’d be like, it’s time,” Anderson said. “Play.”    

Anderson and the superstitions he had as a 13-year NFL quarterback, he explained on this week’s episode of GOLF’s Subpar, were as much a part of his game as his helmet, pads and uniform. They were non-negotiable. The drive and the music one. The pregame one, where he’d have to wave to his wife in the stands. The postgame one, where the Andersons ate at the same burger place every Friday night because the Panthers were winning. In 2015, they all seemed to work, too — Carolina went to the Super Bowl. 

Speaking of. 

Car ritual three. 

Anderson drove to the stadium the same way every game in ’15. “Take a right here, go in front of the stadium, come in, there’s the same security guard — we did the same thing,” Anderson said on Subpar. There was a roadblock to the entrance, but Anderson would gently sneak past it, no one blinked an eye, and the car of Panthers would park. Up until the NFC Championship Game, where they ran into a defense more ferocious than the one they’d face on the field. 

“I go down there, and there’s like seven cops standing in the road, roadblocks — like big ones, big white roadblocks — and there was always a roadblock there, but not a big one,” Anderson said on Subpar. “… Cops everywhere and I’m like, ‘Ryan, you got to get out, bud.’ He’s like, ‘No, no.’ I’m like, ‘Just do it. Just ask the guy we’ve been doing this the whole year. We can’t screw this up now.’ He’s like, ‘OK.’

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“Guy was like, ‘Hmm.’ I’m like, ‘We got it, dude.’ Up on the curb, all the way around. We drive through the middle of the whole party they were setting up — the stage, the guy’s going to sing. Had to do it. We won.”  

Anderson would retire after the 2019 season. His superstitions did not. He was asked by Subpar host Colt Knost: “If you play a good golf round, like, nowadays, do you try to repeat the same thing the next day?”

“Well, duh,” Anderson said.  

Golf ritual one. Warmups. Anderson, a plus-handicap, hits wedge, 8-iron, 5-iron, 3-wood, driver. 

Until he doesn’t play well.  

“If it’s bad one day — I’m like, ‘Pitching wedge wasn’t great’ — let’s go with a 9. So start with a 9,” Anderson said. “If it happens to work that day, then you start with the 9 the next day. Then you kind of just go through it.” 

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Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor