Mark Schlereth's nickname is Stink, which is short for Stinkman, which came from a dish the Eskimos of southwest Alaska would eat called "stinkhead." One day, Schlereth, a native Alaskan, is regaling his teammates with stories about stinkhead. How it's made from the whole head of a king salmon, which is somewhat larger than a football, and how it's prepared by wrapping the head in the long grasses that grow along the rivers and streams and burying it in a moss-lined pit in the ground for four to six weeks, where it rots. Just rots, with the bones softening up until the whole head has a consistency similar to mashed potatoes. The Eskimos then dig up the fish head — and presumably hold their nose because the smell is absolutely rancid — and eat it.
"I was telling them about stinkhead the meal and it just so happened I regularly peed my pants," Schlereth said. "Pretty much every game I did. I was already drenched in sweat so it was no real difference to me. So later the nickname got shortened to just Stink. Hey — I was miserable anyhow out on the field, I wasn't going to hold it in and become even more miserable."
We offer this as context for a tip that arrived in our inbox late last week. It seems there's a funny little rumor going around about Stink Schlereth. According to our tipster, whose uncle works with ESPN:
Apparently, the NFL Live studio is situated largely apart from the main drag of the facility in Bristol. It is about a 5 minute walk from the studio to basically anything of relevance, the cafeteria, the lobby, and even the bathroom. On the set of NFL live, the hosts are obviously all miked up for the show. They have to take all of the equipment off before leaving the set, as to avoid interference with the other signals in the building.
The rumor is that Mark Schlereth is incredibly lazy, and refuses to take all the equipment off, then make the 10 minute round trip walk to the bathroom. As such, wanting to appease the irreplaceable (?) Schler-Dog, the studio provides him a closet with towels on the floor in order for him to pee without taking his equipment off, or taking a walk. It is then the responsibility of the ESPN interns to clean the towels, which is where this story originally came from.
Plausible enough! We reached out to a couple of folks we know at ESPN. They a.) had not heard this rumor; and b.) said that the NFL Live studio is really within a five-minute walk of the bathroom—"two- to three-minute walk, tops." So we decided to try the front door at ESPN.
"Complete and total nonsense," said ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz. "Someone is either on purpose or by accident confusing the old 'stink' stories about peeing in his uniform pants during football playing days."