ESPN The Magazine‘s recent body issue included a look at an activity that everyone does but can be incredibly inconvenient for athletes — the need to go to the bathroom.
Writer David Fleming explored the depths that athletes must go to use the bathroom without interfering with the competition or harming their performance. He shared a genuinely fascinating story about how in the Tour de France the holder of the yellow jersey also owns responsibility for choosing when the peloton stops for a restroom break.
But in an interview Sunday with NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro, Fleming claims NFL players can get particularly creative.
Well, the way I like to put this is there are nearly 3 billion gallons of urine evacuated on earth every day. And my reporting discovered that it seems like most of it ends up on an NFL field somewhere. Really, at any given moment, on an NFL sideline, there are probably a handful of players relieving themselves. They’re sort of hiding in plain sight, whether they’re going behind a towel or just going into their football pants or going behind an equipment case. You know, there are maybe 10 different techniques that football players relieve themselves during NFL games.
That’s right, Fleming claims some NFL players pee their pants on purpose rather than wait for halftime or the end of the game or even sneaking behind a towel or a barricade to sneak a urination break.
Fleming explained further:
Oh, many of them do. I mean, there’s more bed-wetting in the NFL than in any kindergarten class you’ve ever been to. Most of the interior linemen instead of running to the sideline or waiting till halftime, they just relieve themselves in their pants, which is particularly an issue for the teams that have white pants. But those guys don’t seem to care too much.
Several Kansas City Chiefs say that’s the first they have heard of this.
“Personally I haven’t seen that,” tackle Mitchell Schwartz. “Not that I can remember but I think that’s something I would remember.”
Schwartz and fellow offensive lineman Bryan Witzmann said they do not recall using the bathroom on the field during a game.
“I have a great bladder,” Witzmann said.
Chiefs training camp at Missouri Western State University has a portable toilet on the field, as memorialized by former running back Thomas Jones catching passes during a drill in 2010:
The team’s training facility in Kansas City also includes a portable restroom. Several players per practice sneak off to the sideline for quick relief.
But NFL sideline do not have facilities on the field during games. Former Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder claimed he regular peed in his uniform during his 82-game career.
Schwartz said he’s heard stories about players doing this back in the 1990s, but largely thinks it’s a relic of bygone era.
“If you really got to go there’s halftime coming up,” Schwartz said. “You should be able to control it.”