As the National Football League works tirelessly to tackle a multitude of serious risks posed by in-game concussions — the league recently settled with thousands of former players for close to $1 billion — other important health issues take somewhat of a backseat. Point in case: the average player in the NFL weighs 245 pounds. It is no longer rare to see a team’s offensive line consisting entirely of men weighing in at over 300 pounds. Individuals are putting on and maintaining abnormal amounts of weight just to have a chance at making a professional roster. For many, the choice comes down to either keeping healthy or keeping a job.
We’re not exactly qualified here at Food Republic to debate the purported benefits and potential consequences of extreme diets in the NFL. But we’ve done our research and rounded up some players’ (and one coach’s) eating habits. While not exactly a large enough sample to speak for an entire league, at the very least these athletes show that the nutritional choices being made in the league are both diverse and, in some cases, surprising. Let’s take a look.
The All-Pro running back for the Houston Texans made headlines during last year’s offseason when he announced his intention to become a vegan. The experiment was short-lived, as Foster admitted a few weeks into the season that he had been going back and forth on the diet, primarily eating plant-based foods but also occasionally consuming meat. Have we found the reason behind his rather sudden plummeting fantasy value?
Punters. The supposed “wimps” who often find themselves as the butt of football jokes and are usually thrust into the spotlight only upon failure. Weatherford just might change that perception on his own. Widely considered the strongest player pound-for-pound on his team and capable of bench-pressing nearly 400 pounds, the New York Giant eats 200 grams of protein a day, from dishes including scrambled egg whites, bunless turkey burgers and lean-ground-beef lasagna. He even eats beforehand when he dines out with his wife, who “crushes a steak.” What a champ.
Where to begin? The man who charmed us on HBO’s Hard Knocks with his constant cravings to eat a god damn snack may find himself on the hot seat as head coach of the sputtering New York Jets, but at least he’s looking a lot better these days. While gastric band surgery is the main reason for his losing over 100 pounds, the coach made headlines for trying out a solely liquid diet in training camp a few years back. Today, Ryan credits maintaining a balanced diet for his success at finally keeping the weight off.
Remember our referencing extreme NFL diets? Enter Kalil, the 315-pound offensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings. The former USC standout consumes approximately 7,000 calories a day, consisting mostly of lean meats, pasta, snacks (god damn and otherwise) and multiple high-calorie protein shakes. And much of the challenge lies in maintaining his prescribed weight: he lost 20 pounds late last season as a result of a short bout with pneumonia.
We’ve covered the bulked-up, the extreme and the surgically assisted. But what about the downright bizarre? St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford’s routine certainly falls into this last category. The result of a superstitious tradition that began at a restaurant in high school, the Oklahoma University product must “have everything in threes” on game days. Yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like: this Sunday, Bradford will be noshing on three pieces of cantaloupe and three pieces of pineapple before taking on the Dallas Cowboys. Leave it to the men of the NFL.
Aaaaand, just because we can't go a whole football article without mentioning Tim Tebow: What Would Tim Tebow Eat?
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