It can be weird to see a pro athlete once their playing days are done after a lot of them no longer resemble the strong, lean demigods of sport that they once were. If you have met a professional athlete that has retired, there’s a good chance that they don’t look anywhere near what they used to. A lot of it has to do with the eating habits, since you need thousands of calories each day as a pro athlete due to working out so often.
This leaves many athletes overeating out of habit once their careers are over, but not getting the same kinds of workouts in on a daily basis. This is especially true for a lot of NFL players, especially linemen who are basically force fed to be larger than life to knock down their counterpart in the trenches. Add on the fact that an NFL lineman’s career can cause so much general soreness that working out is a chore.
However, some former NFL players have been able to buck the trend and drop a dramatic amount of weight once their playing careers are over. It’s unfortunately not as common as it probably should be, but it’s fascinating to see some of your favorite players who were once massive look like the average Joe. Here are 15 of those players that slimmed down after life in the NFL.
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15 Brad Culpepper
Brad Culpepper was a 10th round defensive tackle pick out of Florida back in 1992 (when there were more than seven rounds) for the Minnesota Vikings. Culpepper spent most of his NFL career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a nine season NFL career that wrapped up with the Bears. Culpepper spent his career at around 280 pounds, but dropped down to 200 after not eating the extra calories needed for the NFL. Culpepper and his wife even appeared on “Survivor”.
14 Alan Faneca
Drafted in 1998 by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Alan Faneca was considered to be one of the best offensive linemen of the millennium’s first decade. Faneca made nine Pro Bowl rosters and received six first-team All Pro awards in a career that lasted until 2010. Faneca was listed at 316 pounds while in the NFL, but switched over to running instead of football. Now, Faneca is just above 200 pounds and even finished his first marathon in 2014.
13 Jeff Saturday
Jeff Saturday was the constant on all of the Indianapolis Colts teams that were led by Peyton Manning. After lining up as Manning’s center for 13 seasons, four of which got him named as an All-Pro. He was an iron-man for a center with the Colts, as he started 188 of 197 games. Saturday spent his final season in 2012 with the Green Bay Packers. Saturday was pushing 300 pounds by the time his career in the NFL wrapped up, but he is now down to 230 pounds and working as an ESPN analyst.
12 Antone Davis
Antone Davis was pretty versatile on the offensive line for the Philadelphia Eagles in the early 1990s, playing there for five seasons before moving to the Atlanta Falcons for another two seasons. During his playing time, Davis was clocking in at about 330 pounds, but didn’t drop the weight as quickly as some of the other guys on the list. Instead, Davis’s weight climbed up to 475 pounds before he appeared on “The Biggest Loser” and dropped to 245 pounds.
11 Roger Brown
There was a time when it was considered an absurdity that a 300 pound lineman was playing in the NFL. The first of those to become a regular starter on the defensive line at 300-plus pounds was Roger Brown, who spent the 1960s playing for the Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams. Brown was one of the “Fearsome Foursome” in Los Angeles, but was left at 450 pounds after his career ended. These days, the 78-year-old is much healthier at around 220 pounds.
10 Nate Newton
A lot of offensive linemen go unrecognized throughout their playing careers, but Nate Newton was certainly not one of them. After having a couple of notable gaffes in his career, Newton became a household name. Newton spent over a decade with the Dallas Cowboys before closing out his career with the Carolina Panthers. Newton had ballooned up to about 400 pounds after his career, but is now weighing 220 pounds after a weight loss surgery.
9 JaMarcus Russell
JaMarcus Russell will go down in NFL history as one of the biggest busts in the league. Russell was selected first overall by the Oakland Raiders to help save the franchise, but was out of a job after just three seasons. Russell was criticized for not controlling his weight, but he was able to get it under control when he attempted to make a comeback in 2013. Russell gained some weight initially after retiring, but eventually in his comback attempt, Russell dropped more than 50 pounds, but never got the second chance.
8 Tom Nalen
The Denver Broncos had a great offensive line corps in the 1990s, and one of the biggest parts of that was Tom Nalen from Boston College. Nalen spent his entire career with the Broncos that lasted from 1994 to 2008, which is pretty good considering he was a seventh round pick. After five Pro Bowls and three All Pro seasons, Nalen wrapped up his career at 290 pounds. Now, thanks to continued workouts, Nalen is standing in at about 215, with more of a lean receiver look.
7 LenDale White
Coming out of USC, LenDale White was the bruising running back who worked alongside Reggie Bush in their college days. White was a load to tackle at 260 pounds, but after a couple of seasons, he started to look just a little too big for the Tennessee Titans’ liking. This resulted in more and more carries going to Chris Johnson. One offseason, LenDale showed up at only 230 pounds, looking noticeably smaller. All he had to do was quit drinking tequila, he said of his weight loss.
6 Matt Birk
Matt Birk is one of the very rare players in NFL history that has come from an Ivy League school, after being drafted out of Harvard in 1998. The center was a staple for the Minnesota Vikings for a decade, racking up six Pro Bowl appearances and two All-Pro mentions. Birk finished his career with the Baltimore Ravens, which got him his only Super Bowl. Birk had been 310 pounds, but has now dropped to 235 and is working as a fitness model.
5 Mark Schlereth
Known in his playing career as “Stink”, the guard was a part of the “Hogs” offensive line of the Washington Redskins from 1989-1994 and then the Denver Broncos from 1995-2000. Schlereth won three Super Bowl rings in his long career. Schlereth retired at just under 300 pounds, and is currently working as a commentator. Although his weight isn’t known, it’s clear that he is a lot less than his playing days. Schlereth has been a radio and television football analyst since his retirement.
4 David Pollack
David Pollack was selected out of the University of Georgia in the first round in 2005 by the Cincinnati Bengals after a decorated college career. Unfortunately, Pollack’s career didn’t last long as he was plagued by injuries in Cincinnati, but he has found post career success as a commentator for ESPN’s college football coverage. Pollack started at 300 pounds as a lineman, dropped to 260 to play linebacker, and is now less than 220 pounds.
3 Nick Hardwick
Nick Hardwick was drafted out of Purdue in 2004 by the San Diego Chargers, and he played his entire 10 year career with the team. In his third season, Hardwick was selected to the Pro Bowl for the only time in his career, and the team’s center was weighing in at around 300 pounds for most of his career. That is, however, until he was injured in Week 1 of the 2014 season. When he showed up to the Chargers facilities to announce his retirement a few months later, he was barely over 200 pounds.
2 Damien Woody
Damien Woody was selected in the first round out of Boston College by the New England Patriots back in 1999, and had an 11 year career that included stops in Detroit and New York to play for the Jets. Woody had always been clocking in at over 300 pounds while playing, but his post career left him at nearly 400 pounds. After dropping more than 100 pounds on “The Biggest Loser”, the two time Super Bowl champion continues to drop weight.
1 Jordan Gross
As a first round pick out of Utah in 2003, Jordan Gross was a staple on the Carolina Panthers’ offensive line as the left tackle for a decade. Gross was named to three Pro Bowls in his career, and spent most of it weighing 305 pounds. After he retired in 2013, Gross showed up to camp just seven months later to visit the team weighing only 225 pounds. Gross has participated in other athletic activities, but just started eating much less than he used to in the NFL.
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