The tinted windows. The flashy rims. The shiny black paint. The fact that it's pulling out of the stadium's VIP lot. When you see an athlete's car, you know it.
Through a very unscientific poll of Philly's fave pros, and in honor of the Philadelphia Auto Show that opens at the Convention Center this weekend, we've uncovered the somewhat expected and sometimes surprising truths about the machines that transport our guys from home to office. The first fact isn't such a shock. Here it is: For the most part, athletes' rides are . . . sweet.
Peek through the gate at a practice facility, and you'll spy a slew of Mercedes, BMWs, Range Rovers and Cadillacs. Sure, there are always a few exceptions, the occasional Bentley (Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins), errant Lamborghini (Ilya Bryzgalov) or exceptional Corvette (Jason Babin). Rarely, there's one shockingly modest ride. Who can forget Koy Detmer's rotation of secondhand junkers?
Sometimes, there's a ride like Dontrelle Willis's, a '75 Caprice Classic painted Carolina blue - that the new Phillie and evident Tar Heels fan calls "Dean Smith" - or Jason Peters' red vintage Mopar muscle car that Babin describes as, "all done up, the rims, the interiors, the motor - a pretty slick little car."
But these days, most sports' cars aren't flashy. They're "traditional, elegant . . . and fast," said Cherry Hill Mercedes Benz general manager Ed Albertaus.
He would know. His dealership just sold Jaromir Jagr an S-class, and has scored Benzes to members of every Philly team for more than 20 years. Lately, said Albertaus, local jocks are "gravitating toward the heavy stuff: S-Class, high-end SUVs and our AMG class," which, he said, is "as fast as anything you could buy, anywhere."
Last season Cliff Lee struck a partnership with Holman Automotive that got him to the Bank via a rare, BMW 7-series Alpina. Jeremy Maclin drives a BMW 645. Evan Mathis has a BMW 750li. Jake Voracek's been in his Beemer M6 for four years.
"The first real car I bought for myself after I got drafted," said LeSean McCoy, was a Mercedes S550. (He'll be talking, but not necessarily about cars, at the Auto Show on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.) Chase Utley keeps his Benz pristine by parking it himself - no valets for him.
Then there are the SUVs, the many SUVs. Said Mathis, "On every team I've been on, most of the guys own an Escalade. The majority of the Escalades are black. I'm thinking of opening up a Cadillac dealership in all 32 NFL cities right next to where each team practices, and selling only black Escalades."
Mathis isn't afraid to admit he's been one of those guys. "Right after my rookie season, I bought a brand-new black Escalade, put an obnoxious sound system in, and put 30-inch wheels on it . . . This was my vision of a dream car. I soon grew up and realized that I was wasting money, that putting 30-inch wheels on anything will destroy your gas mileage."
But guzzling gas isn't a big deal to most of these big moneymakers. Shane Victorino flies around in a super-lifted F-250 (he, too, has an endorsement deal, with Winner Ford). Lou Williams went to Barbera for his Durango, same place Danny Watkins scored his option-loaded diesel Ram and Jon Dorenbos got his California-edition Jeep Wrangler. Wayne Simmonds adores his diamond-white Denali from O'Neil Buick GMC in Warminster. Behind its wheel, "I feel like I'm just towering over everyone," he said. "It's awesome."
Danny Briere has a different reason for driving a big, strong car. In 2010, his black Range Rover collided with an 18-wheeler. The car was totaled, but he suffered just a small airbag burn on his arm, and his son, who'd been asleep in the front seat, emerged unscathed. After a cop told him the truck saved their lives, Briere went right back and bought another. This time, the Briere family Rover is gray with an orange interior - and plenty of room for the kids' hockey gear.
But no matter what the make, model or style, there is one custom detail the pros gotta have: tinted windows.
"They get stalked, kids run up to them to try to get autographs . . . They all want tinted windows," said Pierre Dumis, the head guy at Land Rover Cherry Hill. Only McCoy is clear-glass purist. "I keep it pretty basic," said Shady.