Athletes age just like the rest of us. Time catches up to them and in consequence they start to look more and more like regular people. Just like us, they can battle this with healthy eating and staying fit. That way they can still make the impression of physical health, which captivated us when they were young. One thing is important though: they can, not must. After they retire, their bodies become once again "theirs". What I mean by that is that they are no longer contractually obligated to eat well, train and workout. They can finally have some free time and just chill, look back on their past with pride, sit on the couch and watch time pass by. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that! Standing away from the spotlight allows them to finally take a breather and be like us, regular folk. Hello Friday nights with wine and chips, bye bye to Saturday morning runs.
For some athletes though, working out becomes routine. They get so used to taking care of their bodies that while they might not be so obsessed with staying fit, they find it hard to just sit on the couch and watch how their muscular frames turn bulky. For these athletes - if they aren't injured, hence their mobility is not limited - the grind never ends. They're still competitive, but just at the gym. They want to do more squats or bench press more than the next guy. And just like with the retired guys who like to stay on the couch, there's nothing wrong with that.
15 Couch: William Perry
Odds are that when your nickname is The Refrigerator, you already are way too big for your frame. Perry was always big, but now he definitely visits the refrigerator a lot more. He was loved by everyone in Chicago because he didn't really care about his weight and was a fun loving guy. After his retirement, Perry's weight at times ballooned to 425 pounds. It turned out he had diabetes and because of it had to have one of his legs amputated. That fun loving part turned out to be an obstacle in regaining his playing weight of around 300 pounds as well - Perry is a big drinker. He's now living off a monthly social security check and gets some money from the NFL to cover everyday expenses.
14 Gym: Jerry Rice
Jerry Rice ended his exceptional career in 2004, after 19 seasons which shows not only how intelligent and fast the wide receiver was, but how he took care of his body. His nutrition habits haven't changed since he retired, nor has his determination to stay fit. The 55-year old is now very much into CrossFit, as he likes to push himself. You can tell by looking at his achievements, that Rice was able to find ways to switch his regimen all of the time, as he was stellar for numerous seasons for the Niners, but was also a starter for the Raiders in his forties. As a wide receiver! This is just crazy. The man won three Super Bowls, two Offensive-MVP trophies, was selected to the first All-Pro team ten times, yet he was constantly motivated to remain competitive. His fitness obsession shouldn't therefore be a surprise.
13 Couch: O.J. Simpson
There are actually few former NFL players who look as bad as O.J. It doesn't help that he's been in jail for a long time. He seems very tired, so he must use the prison sofa to take naps. Back in his playing days Simpson was slim and handsome, which made his Hollywood dream come true. Eventually he starred in movies, hosted TV shows and was universally beloved by everyone. That is until he got accused of taking the lives of his ex-wife and her friend. Things just went downhill from there for Simpson. Now finally out of prison (he was found guilty of kidnapping and armed robbery) he proudly shows his support for the Bills, the team that he played for in the 1980s.
12 Gym: Nick Hardwick
In typical centre fashion, Nick Hardwick maintained a steady weight of over 300 lbs by eating pizza, ice cream and burritos. It proved worth it, because he not only stayed on the Chargers for ten seasons, but was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2006 and made the Chargers 50th Anniversary Team. Once his NFL career was over, Hardwick decided to properly take care of his body and gave up eating all of the heavy stuff. He lost 85 pounds in six months, got into yoga and is in no way reminiscent of the big guy he once was. At 36 years old Hardwick actually looks younger than during his playing days.
11 Couch: Bernie Kosar
Bernie Kosar is the best quarterback in Browns' modern history. Even though he was no Otto Graham or Brian Sipe, Kosar was the last consistently good QB in Cleveland. He went to two Pro Bowls and ended his career as a Super Bowl Champion after being the backup for Troy Aikman for the 1993 Cowboys. He never was especially athletic, but he was always good enough. This changed once Bernie retired. Still beloved in Cleveland, he has fallen on hard times and it shows. He filed for bankruptcy, got divorced and is still under treatment for long-term effects of concussions. One of his attempts at bouncing back was opening a burger bar. You can tell he dines there quite frequently.
10 Gym: Brad Culpepper
Picked in the tenth round of the 1992 NFL Draft, Culpepper played as a defensive tackle for the Vikings, Buccaneers and Bears. He stayed in the league up until 2000, appeared in 131 games, had 34 sacks and forced six fumbles. Like most linebackers, he was a muscular guy. He remains the same way to this day, but he's much thinner and looks a lot more fit and healthy. His recipe for good form? Apart from working out, it's simply to stop eating the stuff that keeps your body weight up. Culpepper and his wife are both fitness enthusiasts, and when they appeared on the television show "Survivor" they were both ripped.
9 Couch: Scott Mitchell
Coming out of Utah, Mitchell was picked in the fourth round of the 1990 NFL Draft. He wasn't very likely to become a legitimate starter, let alone a star in the league. However, after stepping in for Dan Marino with the Dolphins when the Hall of Fame quarterback got injured, Mitchell thought he got his big break and made such an impression that he eventually signed a big contract with the Detroit Lions. During his best season Mitchell got 32 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and 7 fumbles, which is a bit mediocre but for Lions standards was OK. After his 2001 retirement Mitchell stayed out of the spotlight until reappearing as a contestant on The Biggest Loser. He weighed 366 pounds when entering the show.
8 Gym: Herschel Walker
This one is a bit controversial, as Walker's approach to working out is really amazing. He looked great during his playing days, but even now, at 55, he looks like he could put on some pads and a helmet and just run through defences. The reason for that probably has more to do with his natural gifts than the questionable diet and training regimen. After he retired, Walker participated in two professional MMA fights and holds a black belt in tae kwon do. Since high school he has performed the same workout, consisting of roughly a thousand push-ups and two thousand sit-ups per day. He also eats one big meal per day.
7 Couch: Rickey Jackson
Rickey Jackson is a legend in New Orleans thanks to his exceptional play for the Saints. Selected in the second round of the NFL draft, he quickly became a dominant force on the defensive end and became the starting linebacker. He went on to play for the 49ers in 1994 and won his lone career Super Bowl there. This capped of a great, Hall of Fame career. When it was over, Jackson continued to put on more on more weight, to the point that he needed to auction his jacket from the induction on eBay because he couldn't wear it anymore. Weighing around 240 pounds during his playing days, now Jackson looks like he's dangerously nearing 300.
6 Gym: Tom Nalen
Nalen is proof that a continuous workout with a varying diet can give you the physique that you want. Back in his playing days as a centre for the Broncos, Nalen was expected to be big, powerful and... fat. Number 66 weighted around 290 pounds when protecting John Elway and winning two Super Bowl rings as a result of his efforts. Nalen is beloved in the city of Denver and was inducted into the Broncos' Ring of Fame. When he showed up at the ceremony he was virtually unrecognizable. Nalen continued to workout after his retirement, but this time he watched his calories and as a result looked very healthy. He retired from professional football in 2009.
5 Couch: Keith McCants
Considered by many one of the biggest busts in recent NFL history due to his short-lived professional career (three teams in six seasons), McCants at least looked like an athlete when he was in the NFL. As a defensive player he was fearless and feared, but he succumbed to one thing that can knock down the toughest of them - addiction. His career was cut short because of injuries and the pain made McCants turn to painkillers, which led to his addiction to other drugs. This, as well as his bad knees, make it almost impossible for McCants to lose weight as easily as he would like it. He's now broke and trying to turn his life around.
4 Gym: Terrell Owens
Attitude issues aside, T.O. always could play football on a level achieved by few other wide receivers in league history. His omission from the Hall of Fame is a travesty. The man is second in league history in receiving yards and third in touchdown receptions. The reason why Owens was so good for so long was because he took his fitness very serious - one time he even worked out in his driveway to show teams that he was ready to play. The popcorn-eating celebration? It was only for show. You know that he wouldn't look as good being 44 years old now, while eating stuff regular people do. A great runner and actually a very hard worker, it's a shame that T.O.'s achievements are overlooked due to his childish behaviour.
3 Couch: Albert Haynesworth
The Washington Redskins signed one of the worst contracts in American professional sports history and probably the worst NFL contract ever when they decided to give Haynesworth $100 million for seven seasons, $41 million of which were guaranteed. By the time he was a two-time Pro Bowler with injury and attitude issues, yet Washington still offered him the deal. After signing it in 2009, Haynesworth played for the Redskins, the Patriots and the Buccaneers, but was out of the league in 2011. He already had weight issues after signing that huge deal, however since there was no one else to force him to train, he completely lost motivation and really let himself go now.
2 Gym: Michael Strahan
Looking at Michael Strahan you couldn't tell that he actually retired from the NFL. He looks like he could participate in a football game even now. Like, right now. He retired in 2007, but his body somewhat didn't seem to notice. Strahan keeps himself busy, hosting Good Morning America or appearing on Fox NFL Sunday, but he still finds time to workout, probably every single day. At least he looks like it. Remember, this is a guy who was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year, won the Super Bowl and was named to the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team. He could just reminisce about his achievements and bask in the glory of days past. Instead, he's doing a lot of non-football stuff, showing that NFL legends are not one-dimensional jocks.
1 Couch: Jared Lorenzen
Remembered as the fattest quarterback in NFL history, Lorenzen stepped on the weight this year for the first time since his 2008 retirement. It turned out that he was now over 500 pounds, which was a shock to the player himself. Lorenzen was always a big, fat guy, but he was still capable of playing professional football. He even won the Super Bowl, although as a backup, for the Giants. So maybe winning isn't the proper word here, but still, Jared Lorenzen has more Super Bowl rings than all of us reading this combined. Right now he's participating in an Internet show monitoring his weight loss. He has two children, is just 36 years old, so it's good that he wants to turn his life around.