Former USC, Clemson stars in NFL make wagers for big game

dcloninger@thestate.comNovember 28, 2013 

C.J. Spiller posted this picture to Twitter after USC defeated Clemson in 2012.

  • Palmetto in the pros

    USC and Clemson each have several players in the NFL, and several are on the same team, leading to an interesting rivalry week (* injured reserve, @ practice squad; rosters current as of Nov. 27).

    ARIZONA CARDINALS

    USC: John Abraham, Jasper Brinkley

    Clemson: Jaron Brown, Andre Ellington

    ATLANTA FALCONS

    USC: Patrick DiMarco, Cliff Matthews, Travian Robertson

    Clemson: Malliciah Goodman

    BUFFALO BILLS

    USC: Stephon Gilmore

    Clemson: C.J. Spiller, Chris Hairston*, Antoine McClain, Jonathan Meeks*

    CINCINNATI BENGALS

    USC: T.J. Johnson@

    Clemson: Brandon Thompson

    HOUSTON TEXANS

    USC: D.J. Swearinger, Johnathan Joseph

    Clemson: DeAndre “Nuk” Hopkins, Ricky Sapp

    *Note: Houston owner Bob McNair is a USC graduate

    JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

    USC: Ace Sanders

    Clemson: Andre Branch

    NEW YORK JETS

    USC: Antonio Allen

    Clemson: Dalton Freeman@

    SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

    USC: Melvin Ingram*, Byron Jerideau*

    Clemson: Charlie Whitehurst, Marcus Gilchrist, Crezdon Butler

    SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

    USC: Sidney Rice*, Lemuel Jeanpierre

    Clemson: Byron Maxwell

    TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

    USC: Jamon Meredith

    Clemson: Da’Quan Bowers

The shockwave reverberated through Clemson fans.

C.J. Spiller, one of the greatest players in school history, posted a picture on his Twitter feed of him wearing a T-shirt. Not just any T-shirt.

A T-shirt featuring the “Block C” logo of South Carolina.

Haven’t Tiger fans suffered enough during their four-game losing streak to rival USC?

Spiller was being honorable, paying a bet he had with former USC standout Stephon Gilmore. Teammates on the Buffalo Bills, the two made a wager before the USC-Clemson game in 2012 — loser wears the winner’s school T-shirt and posts it on Twitter.

Spiller did post a note with the picture. “Now to my CLEMSON fam I know y’all see me in chicken shirt but I had to own up to the bet I made with @BumpNrunGilm0re. #TIGER4LIFE,” he Tweeted.

Tampa Bay defensive end Da’Quan Bowers followed Spiller. He also showed up on Twitter wearing a USC T-shirt after the Gamecocks’ 27-17 win last season, payment for another bet.

Friendly wagers with teammates happen a lot in the NFL. Kansas City place-kicker Ryan Succop (USC ’08) recently posed with Chiefs backup quarterback Chase Daniel (Missouri ’08) in a Twitter picture while Daniel wore Succop’s USC T-shirt and cap. The reason? The Gamecocks’ 27-24 win against Missouri in October.

This week, as USC and Clemson get set to throw down for the 111th time, handshakes are common across NFL locker rooms that feature at least one alum of each school. They’re not for camaraderie.

They’re sealing the wagers.

“Yeah, we got a couple of bets in hand,” said Jonathan Meeks (Clemson ’12), a safety with the Bills. “Stephon’s going to have to cook me dinner, and do the same thing, wear a T-shirt on Twitter.”

“That sounds all right,” Gilmore (USC ’11) said. “I ain’t going to predict, I don’t want to jinx it, but I already know it. We can go 1-11, as long as that one’s at the end of the year.”

As of Nov. 27, there were 10 NFL teams featuring at least one USC alum and one Clemson alum on the roster (practice squads and injured reserve lists included). Some are among the greatest players in school or rivalry history.

Many will make a simple wager for Saturday’s game, with the results likely winding up on social media next week.

The gear is supplied by each school, which routinely sends T-shirts, hats and sweatshirts to their NFL alumni. “They usually ship us a shirt or a hoodie every year, just to let us represent our school,” Gilmore said. “This year, they sent us a hat and another shirt and a hoodie.”

And if the gear’s not part of the bet, eating on a teammate’s dime most certainly is.

“Yeah, me and Melvin (Ingram) got dinner bet on it,” said San Diego strong safety Marcus Gilchrist (Clemson ’10). “We’re not doing a T-shirt or anything like that. I think Crezdon (Butler) and Melvin got dinner, too.”

Ingram (USC ’11), Byron Jerideau (USC ’12), Gilchrist, Butler (Clemson ’09) and Charlie Whitehurst (Clemson ’05) share the same locker room with the Chargers, although Ingram and Jerideau have been injured all season. Gilchrist said that the rivalry holds its place in the locker room, but it’s really the same for all colleges.

“I’ve done it with guys that went to Georgia, Florida State, N.C. State,” he said. “It’s a common thing we do.”

There are plenty of big games in the NFL this weekend, all leading to a playoff push. There will also be several NFL eyes turned into the capital city of South Carolina, hoping for a positive result of a college game.

Twitter beware — the rivalry is coming.

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