Think that only women are scrutinized for their appearance? You would be mistaken! We wanted to focus on men for this article, as we look at 20 Professional Athletes Who Let Their Bodies Slide. To be fair, everyone loses some muscle mass as they age, but for professional athletes, it can seem like the end of the world. Without a solid support system and a good head on one’s shoulders, the toll of so much weight talk and body-bashing can really sting.
Even so, we are going to look at 20 players who have had to deal with the struggle of a growing waistline. These athletes span the sports world. Sure, golfers and baseball players are not known for their chiseled figures and six-pack abs, but they still need to be in good shape. Tell that to CC Sabathia and John Daly! As for the more vigorous sports, such as football and basketball, there have been loads of players who have dealt with backlash for putting on the pounds. We can think of some right off the bat: Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, and Ben Roethlisberger, for example.
In a society where looks are everything, it has got to be super tough to play like an athlete while looking like one.
20 Jameis Winston
The NFL pro was photographed practicing with his teammates, and the public immediately threw their arms up in exasperation. Ugh, not another NFL-er packing on the pounds! A few kinds souls rushed to Winston’s rescue, stating that he was healthy and in good shape for practice, and that he was photographed while wearing a practice leash around his waist, which made his belly flab look more pronounced than it actually was. Either way, Winston was looking a little plumper…but on a more positive note, if there is anything that can get a guy back into shape, it’s an NFL workout!
19 Shaquille O’Neal
We know that Shaquille O’Neal is a big dude, and we mean a really big dude. During his NBA career, he was quite a force to be reckoned with on the basketball court. We certainly wouldn’t want him standing in our way! As is normal with age (and retirement from professional sports,) Shaq put on some weight after he stepped off the court for good. He has been dodging comments about his weight for some time, but actually participated in a challenge with Charles Barkley to see who was more ripped. Uh…seriously? Both of the guys took off their shirts to compare abs (or the lack thereof).
18 Eddie Lacy
NFL Green Bay Packer Eddie Lacy certainly has not been immune to the body-bashing in professional sports. Even coach Mike McCarthy had something to say about it. In the fall of 2015, McCarthy was quoted as saying that Lacy was “bigger than he was as a rookie.” Whether that was a euphemism for “he’s getting fat” or not, there were definitely other people who were making comments about Lacy’s weight gain. According to statistics, he has been going up about 10 pounds with each passing season; a pattern that does not bode well for the athlete’s future career. Time will tell.
17 Charles Barkley
We talked about how Barkley and Shaq tried to compare waist sizes and abs, but there was a time when Barkley actually wanted to gain weight. Back in 1984, Barkley was so desperate to avoid getting drafted to the Philadelphia 76ers (who can blame him?) that he gained 20 pounds in two days! Unfortunately, the plan backfired, as Barkley was drafted to the 76ers, and to make matters worse, he was 20 pounds heavier and flabby. Rough. He was tipping the scales at over 300 pounds and was somehow going to play in the NBA. Even so, Barkley continued playing – and scoring – for eight years with the 76ers.
16 Shawn Kemp
Shawn Kemp is another NBA player who has not been spared in the weight-criticism arena. The athlete has been dealing with weight-related comments for years and is now known as one of the best “out-of-shape” athletes in the NBA. Is that a compliment or an insult? Not only did Kemp deal with weight gain, but he had a history of abusing drugs and alcohol. All of these factors contributed to his downfall in the NBA. Kemp got into deep water with his contract, he left the Seattle team, and he became associated with pro athletes who seriously let themselves go.
15 Raymond Felton
Raymond Felton is most known for his time with the New York Knicks, but he has also been the butt of many weight-related jokes. He even spoke out about it, making the case that he is not “fat” fat, but he is more of a rounded guy. Fair enough. Even though he was pudgier than other athletes (and was constantly out of breath), Felton has managed to contribute to his team as a decent player and has even got his weight down. To his credit, he's also been dealing with injuries over the last few years, which does not make dropping pounds any easier. Kudos, Felton!
Ronaldo used to be Brazil’s star striker on the soccer pitch. The key phrase here is used to be. 2015 wasn’t the most profound year for the athlete. At nearly 40 years of age, the wear and tear of this rough sport is starting to show, and he can’t run around like he used to. Although Ronaldo had people thinking at the start of 2015 that he may start playing once again, that is as yet to be determined. Owing to his endorsements of Nike sports gear, it doesn’t seem like Ronaldo needs to make bank by kicking a soccer ball around anymore. Plus, he’s a father, and even though he is totally rocking the “dad bod,” he still looks pretty good.
13 George Foreman
Many people know associate George Foreman more for his namesake grilling products than with his athletic career. The 67-year-old knows the struggle of these younger guys and even though he was a heavyweight champion back in the day, he is now softer and rounder in the middle. Yet don’t get us wrong; this guy is a fighter. After spending a decade out of the ring, Foreman came back at nearly 40 years of age. He still had some staying power, but soon turned his sights to entrepreneurship (it’s okay if you have a George Foreman grill). Even so, there’s no denying this dude’s power.
12 John Daly
When we think of golfers, our minds do not immediate go to ripped, chiseled abs and muscular legs. Yet professional golfers do need to be in good shape. Apparently John Daly did not get the memo. Going by the fact that he downs several sodas a day (and smokes heavily), it really is no surprise that his girth has expanded. His weight struggles have not been hidden from the public either. Daly underwent weight-loss surgery in 2009 and was fitted with a lap band, which shrinks the size of his stomach in the hopes that it will help him eat less.
11 Lamar Odom
Lamar Odom just can’t seem to catch a break lately. There was his health scare, his break-up from Khloe Kardashian, and his fluctuating waistline. Sports reporters were saying that the athlete had gained about 50 pounds, and even though he is nearly 7 feet tall, that weight gain is not something to take lightly. The past couple of years have indeed been tough for him: deaths of loved ones, an injury to his back, and a waived contract with the New York Knicks. That’s enough to make anyone turn to lazing around and stress eating. Maybe we should back off!
10 CC Sabathia
Let’s move on to baseball, a sport where it is actually kind of expected for the athletes to be kind of … flabby. Take for example, CC Sabathia, the New York Yankee who arrived at Spring Training in 2015 tipping the scales at just over 300 pounds. Sure, more bulk means a stronger swing of the bat, but those baseball players are still supposed to run. And at 305 pounds, that might be a tad difficult! After putting on 30 pounds from his previous season, Sabathia said that he felt happy with his new weight and he hoped that bulking up would give him more zip on his fastball.
9 Zach Randolph
Professional basketball player Zach Randolph has been a huge part of the Memphis Grizzlies success over the last few years, but there seems to be one question that continually follows the talented forward around. And that is the question about his weight, as critics continue to mention that he's getting a bit chunky. Sure, there are injuries and stress and the need to be bulky but not fat. It’s a fine line and one that many said Randolph was struggling to toe.
8 Glen Davis
A few years back, Glen Davis was receiving all kinds of criticism for his weight. The Boston Celtics player was listed at 289 pounds and 6-foot, 9-inches. Some said those stats were a lie, while others stated that Davis needed to be big in order to squash his opponents. And injury may have also contributed to the weight gain. Even so, in the following years, Davis whittled his waist down and spent the offseason losing weight. Then that became the talk of the town. So, it seems as if this poor guy can’t win, as far as the pounds are concerned.
7 Peyton Manning
If you are looking for the prime example of the “dad bod,” then look no further than Peyton Manning. The 39-year-old quarterback for the Denver Broncos seems to have it all: a decent career, cute kids, and a beautiful wife. Like many athletes, he was hit with sexual abuse allegations, steroid use, and the dreaded weight gain. Perhaps his heavier frame was the reason why he was benched so much in this past NFL season; something that has not happened to Peyton since he was playing college ball. He also had the worst season of his career. Ouch. Is it time to throw in the towel?
6 Eli Manning
Maybe it runs in the Manning family, because Eli was also dissed for his weight gain. Sports reporters and spectators alike could not stop with the comments about Eli’s protruding stomach and extra padding on his figure. Eli has spoken out about the weight thing, stating that he will lose weight, then gain weight, but the trouble is, he is not gaining the right kind of weight. A true family man, he turns to his wife and kids for support and he has established some nutrition goals. To give him the benefit of the doubt, maintaining an NFL physique has got to be tough.
5 Ben Roethlisberger
Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers go together like bacon and eggs, and nobody knows this better than Ben himself. He has been taking jokes and jabs at his weight, even from opposing coaches. Luckily, that one was all in jest, but people have been noticing that Ben’s girth has been growing. At 6-foot, 5-inches, he is currently listed at 241 pounds, but the quarterback may be tipping the scales a bit more. At age 33, he still has some vim and vigor left in him, but if he gets any chunkier, his career might end up stalling out.
4 Phil Mickelson
Again, golfing will not get a guy in tip-top shape like a soccer or football player, but at least it’s some form of physical activity. Phil Mickelson seems to understand this and he started the new year in 2015 with a new nutrition plan. He was going paleo! In recent years, Mickelson has dealt with body aches and pains, injuries, and of course, getting older. His gut was not immune to those changes, either. So he decided to do something about it. He turned away from gluten, sugars, and processed foods in the hopes of dropping some pounds. Good for him!
3 Scott Hall
Wrestlers are no joke when it comes to their size: big and bulky is the name of the game. Yet professional wrestlers need to have some muscle under all that weight, not just fat. Tell that to Scott Hall, who struggled with not only his weight, but depression and drug abuse as well. To get himself back into shape, he enrolled in Diamond Dallas Page’s Yoga class. The breathing and meditation exercises seemed to have a positive effect on him, as he looks much better than he did during his more difficult years. Good for him!
2 Jake "The Snake" Roberts
We might call this a serious comeback. Jake the Snake was nearly unrecognizable after gaining about 70 pounds and ballooning to over 300 pounds on the scale. Like many wrestlers in the WWE, he dealt with drug abuse problems, and the combination of stepping away from the ring, substance abuse, and old age really took a toll. Seriously, the pictures of him looked like a pot-bellied Santa hiding out in his man-cave. Fortunately, with a combination of cleaning up his diet, dropping the drugs, and signing on to Diamond Dallas Page's program, he has turned things around quite well. Nice job!
1 Matt Hardy
What can we expect from a guy who leaves the WWE? Matt Hardy has been slammed with comments to go to the gym and lose weight, even from people who did not seem to be in the best shape either. It just goes to show you that the world can be a cruel place, especially if you are a professional (or retired) athlete. For Hardy, people were scolding him for losing the definition in his abs and looking a bit fluffier in his torso. So maybe his pecs now resemble man boobs. Give the guy a break! He is 41 years old and still wrestling!