On Friday the 13th, locals talk about why they choose to wear a

'cursed' number

If you've watched any horror movies in your life, you've come to understand there are just certain things you don't do. Ever.

First, you don't babysit creepy kids that like to whisper a lot. Honestly, five dollars an hour just isn't worth it.

Second, you never run toward the sound of a chainsaw in the woods. You always run in the opposite direction.

Thirdly, don't celebrate when you finally knock out the psychotic killer. For Pete's sake, he ain't dead. Save your touchdown dance for when he actually stops breathing.

Then finally, and perhaps most importantly, don't have anything to do with the No. 13. It's a bad number. It's unlucky. There's a reason most high-rise buildings go from the 12th to the 14th. Nobody wants to work, or live, on the 13th floor.

And in the sports world, very few players want to wear the No. 13 on the back of their uniform. Very few want to test fate that much, to don the most unlucky of numbers.

Yet there are some in Gwinnett County who have decided to spit in the face of superstition. Not only are they not afraid of it, but they've embraced it completely.

For instance, tonight's big Region 7-AAAAA game between North Gwinnett and Peachtree Ridge will feature two players - North safety Jim Moreland and Peachtree Ridge kicker Drew Butler - wearing the infamous number.

And they just happen to be meeting on Friday the 13th.

Kind of spooky.

Like when Collins Hill's Stephen Buko first chose the number as an 8-year old.

"It was on Friday the 13th when I picked it," he said. "It's just something you remember. I didn't intentionally pick it on Friday the 13th, it just happened that way. Now people always ask me about unlucky 13."

He's not alone. There are 10 county football teams that have a No. 13 on their roster, and almost to a man, they are repeatedly asked about their numerical choice.

"Every once in a while people will joke with me about it," Moreland said. "I guess I just like to beat the odds."

Said Norcross' Sam Snider: "I don't know, I just always liked the number. I saw it as lucky for me and unlucky for the other team."

It's a familiar sentiment among the small fraternity of 13s. As if they want to show the world that it's just a number, not a curse. There have been successful athletes in the past that have worn it, so why shouldn't they?

After all, Dan Marino wore it in the NFL. Wilt Chamberlain wore it in the NBA. Alex Rodriguez wears it with the Yankees, so it obviously isn't always unlucky. OK, maybe A-Rod is a bad example, but you get the point.

"I'm actually pretty big on superstitious stuff," said Wesleyan's James Ramsey, who wears the number in football, basketball and baseball. "But as far as the number goes, I think it's actually one of the more lucky ones out there."

Though he admits he's not exactly having to wrestle it away from any of the other school's athletes.

"Oh no," he said with a laugh. "There aren't any free-throw shooting contests for this number, I can promise you. They hand it to me and say, 'Here you go. See you later.'"

Ramsey ended up with the number in little league and hasn't let go of it since.

"I got it one year when I was little," he said. "They did numbers in alphabetical order and I ended up with 13 because I was lower down. And the number always stuck with me."

Butler chose the number for family reasons.

"My grandpa wore it, my uncle wore it, my dad (former NFL kicker Kevin Butler) wore it. I look up to all three of them," he said. "So 13's one of my lucky numbers."

So how exactly did it become unlucky in the first place? What is the origin of Friday the 13th?

Many Christians believe that Friday was the day of the week that Jesus was crucified and 13 is unlucky because that's the number of people who were at The Last Supper.

Thirteen is also unlucky in Norse mythology. As legend has it, Loki, one of the most evil Norse gods, went uninvited to a party of 12 at Valhalla and as a result caused the death of Balder, the god of light and joy.

So apparently 13 is an unlucky number for dinner and party guests, but is it unlucky in sports?

Maybe you should ask Ralph Branca, the Dodger pitcher who famously gave up Bobby Thompson's "Shot heard round the world" in the 1951 playoffs, one of the most famous home runs in the history of baseball.

Guess what number he wore.

Or Mike Vanderjagt. Heading into the Colts' playoff game against the Steelers last season he was the NFL's all-time leader in field-goal percentage. All he did was horribly miss a potential, game-winning kick with just seconds left that could have lifted Indianapolis to the Super Bowl.

Guess what two digits were on the back of his uniform.

Is it a coincidence? Possibly. But it doesn't keep most athletes from wanting nothing to do with the number.

Most. Not all.

"People have asked me about it, 'Isn't 13 unlucky?' I just say, 'Not for me,'" Butler said.

There are nine other county football players who feel exactly the same way.