There’s always talk amongst recruits and college football fans about uniform combinations and how the swag is what makes you play better. I’m a big proponent of, the “look good, feel good, play good” philosophy evoked by Deion Sanders.
There is a secret, however, amongst former Florida State players – Doak Boyz – about what really motivates them to play harder. It’s not the obvious ESPN highlights, NFL aspirations, or general sense of family accomplishment. It’s all about the tomahawk stickers.
Well, that and wanting your video game ratings to be high when there was still an NCAA football video game.
The tomahawk sticker is a reward for academic accomplishments, good plays, or earned accomplishments. Each position had different parameters, but it was all about making sure your helmet had the most stickers. As we called it in my segment when I played, “Hang Time.”
The stickers start them from the back of your helmet, work up to a certain height, then switch to the front of the helmet until they meet. After that, they are just placed where they can fit.
If memory serves me correct, I received mine for de-cleators (knocking someone off their feet), touchdowns, and if we had over a certain number of yards as a running back group. I believe running back received three tomahawks for every touchdown scored and one per de-cleator.
You could also lose them for missed assignments and fumbles; my running backs coach Billy Sexton didn’t play about fumbles.
I remember my first time receiving a sticker before the Sugar Bowl following the 2002 season against Georgia. I noticed three glorious tomahawks on the back of my helmet as an award for good play in our last regular season game against Florida. You couldn’t tell me nothing!
They are like Pringles – you can’t stop at one. After your first, you are on a quest to fill up your entire helmet. That task is harder for big headed guys like me.
Not all Noles remember their first tomahawk as clearly.
“I am not sure when, but I do believe as a punter my freshman year and it was always exiting to have a helmet full of Tomahawks,” said Charlie Ward, who received about as many in his career as anyone ever has.
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My sophomore year, I almost had a full helmet; my junior and senior year saw me accomplish my goal. Oh, and as a fan of the Seminoles growing up, you could look at the helmets and know that the ones with all the “hang time” were ballers.
Guys like Peter Warrick ran out of space for them. Every Saturday walking into the locker room before a game, players took time to see where the tomahawks were put – or if they were lost.
“I got first 3 after (Georgia Tech) game 2000; I was geeked, but it looked weak cause it was only a few,” Travis Johnson.
“It was crazy. I remember asking the equipment guys how do I get these – lol. He told me how and to watch out for Bert Reid. He used to steal them – lmao,” Lonnie Pryor.
“Honestly, it just made me want to do whatever I could to earn another one. Being that if you played for (former defensive coordinator) Mickey (Andrews), he made it extra hard to get one, you felt proud to get them and keep them. One thing I do remember is, I couldn’t wait to get on TV (like the greats would) and have my tomahawks shown,” Mikhal Kornegay.
“That this was something I looked at and wanted since I was 5-years-old watching FSU and specifically Deion Sanders have a helmet full of them and I earned one. Got one after my first game freshman year for blocking a punt against Duke,” Kyler Hall.
“My first thought was Momma I made it. That tomahawk made you look more gangsta! Lol. My first one was my freshman year in 97 against Georgia Tech. Scored my first touchdown,” Snoop Minnis.
The tradition of being a Doak Boy then, as well as now, was to emulate the greatness that you saw on the field from your predecessors. You wanted to adorn that uniform in the same way that those you looked up to wore theirs so that the next Doak Boyz would see you in the same light. You also knew that each one of them was a feather in your cap for dominating your opponent.
I almost felt bad for my equipment manager as he had to replace a lot of broken ones; I knew the fastest way for me to fill my helmet up was to knock guys on their butts. My helmet was full of scratches on my helmet.
Tomahawks aren’t given, they are earned. My son wakes up every morning looking at my game helmet from college asking if he can wear it one day. It still has all the tomahawks on it; I tell him he has to earn the right to wear that helmet.
Article First Appeared on Gridiron Now: http://gridironnow.com/seminole-football-players-take-great-pride-in-tomahawk-helmet-sticker/