The life of professional athletes (most of them anyway) requires a strict adherence to a certain lifestyle, one filled with healthy foods and countless hours spent in the gym to eliminate any traces of extra baggage. Even the largest of NFL athletes (say an offensive lineman) have to closely monitor what they put into their behemoth bodies day in and day out. Failure to do so can have dire consequences for one’s career and livelihood.
Most athletes will talk at length about the commitment and dedication it takes to keep one’s body and mind in shape for the gruelling reality that is professional sports. Fans often get hung up on the glitz and glam associated with making millions for essentially playing a game. The fact of the matter is, most of the time, the millions of dollars often attached to these athletes only comes AFTER they’ve shown a willingness to put in the effort and hard work to excel at their chosen sport. Compared to other sports, the length of a NFL career is extremely short and the competition at every position places an added importance on staying in shape and not allowing oneself to slip into a state of inflation - that is until of course, you decide to call it a career and retire, at which point ANYTHING GOES!
With that in mind, here are 15 NFL players who let themselves go after football (including one who’s still trying to hang on).
15 Donovan McNabb
This is a quarterback who probably stayed around a little too long. McNabb was a glorious Eagle for 11 seasons, but his Redskins & Vikings cameos were nothing short of, as Shaq would say, Horriawful. Making routine appearances as an NFL analyst, it’s evident McNabb is spending a healthy amount of time in the kitchen and at the dinner table. True for any position, except for say a kicker or punter, it’s hard to blame an ex-football player for embracing the dietary freedom that comes with retirement. McNabb surely made enough money in his career to live comfortably in retirement, but if he somehow eats his way through all his fortune, we might see him try to make a return to the game (though this is highly unlikely).
14 JaMarcus Russell
Who could forget the physical freak Russell was coming out of LSU! Arm strength, size, respectable mobility gave the Raiders hope for a brighter future. Problem is, Russell failed miserably to live up to the hype. In fact he was so bad the Raiders would’ve been better served taking a kicker or punter first overall.
In 31 games, JaMarcus threw 18 touchdowns, 23 interceptions, posted a career completion percentage of just over 52%, a comically bad quarterback rating of 65.2, and finished his career with a 7-18 record as a starter (he also let his weight creep up north of 300 pounds as a quarterback). As recently as last off-season, Russell was adamant on returning to the NFL (he actually wrote a letter to Jerry Jones, claiming he’d play for free). I don’t believe Russell ever got a response. Now, hopefully with a clear mind, Russell can get back to his true passion… Eating.
13 Daunte Culpepper
Having his best years in Minnesota, Culpepper also had stints with the Dolphins, Raiders, and the Lions before retiring from the NFL in 2010. Oddly enough, Culpepper continued playing football, signing with the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the UFL. He would go on to win several weekly awards during his UFL tenure. However, in retirement he seems to have become even more lenient than he was as a player when it comes to his diet. Culpepper was always a big quarterback, tipping the scales at roughly 265 lbs. during his playing days, and perhaps in retirement one doesn’t want the burden of having to get and stay in shape. Culpepper seems to be of that mindset.
12 OJ Simpson
If the glove don’t fit, you must acquit! The line that many claim got OJ off the hook in the trial of a generation. Eventually, Juice would wind up behind bars, serving time for essentially stealing memorabilia he believed belonged to him in the first place. However, somehow OJ Simpson was released from prison on October 1, 2017.
Early on in his prison days (aka post-football days), Simpson was a walking parade float, resembling a balloon more than he did a human being. Perhaps he has shed some of the excess baggage over the years, but he remains a hefty non-convicted murderer who single handedly gave the Ford Bronco a bad rep. Did they ever find any Twinkie wrappers in the passenger seat following that chase?
11 Jermaine Wiggins
Someone once described Jermaine Wiggins as ‘The only NFL player who’s jersey you can buy in a Home Depot’. Exactly why, I’m not too sure but it just makes sense to me given how rough and rugged Wiggins played (and I use the term play loosely).
I reviewed Wiggins’ stats and truthfully, the only thing that jumped out at me was his career long reception - 59 yards! How that man was able to get open and run for 59 yards before being tracked down is truly unbelievable, although he did possess underrated breakdancing skills if you want to look that up on YouTube. He can also be found talking about the deflategate scandal and Tom Brady in an interview earlier in this season.
10 Bryant McKinnie
Bryant ‘Mount’ McKinnie is one of several infamous Minnesota Vikings caught on the Love Boat back in 2005. The University of Miami alumnus was a force on the offensive line early on in his career, but weight gain and legal troubles eventually left him on the outside looking in after just 179 games (a bust when you consider he was drafted 7th overall in 2002). His conditioning struggles were well documented throughout his career, having been forced to miss/skip practices routinely due to poor conditioning.
On top of his weight issues, he was sued for $375K by an Exotic Dance Club in Florida for ‘unpaid services’ (He would later settle for ~ $150K, equating to roughly 4,000 dances). Just imagine partying with Bryant McKinnie!
9 Jerome Bettis
Anybody nicknamed The Bus is sure to carry a big load. The Hall-of-Fame Steelers running back didn’t so much as let himself go in retirement, but rather just continued doing & eating the same things. He’s as big as he’s ever been and still resembles a lovable teddy bear.
Over his career, Bettis amassed over 13,000 rushing yards, 91 touchdowns, and won a Super Bowl in 2005. Originally drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in 1993, Bettis went on to have a decorated career in Pittsburgh, playing 10 years in the black and yellow. Now he dabbles as a football analyst and rivals Charles Barkley for the worst golf swing on this ROUND spinning space rock.
8 Tony Siragusa
The Goose retirement consisted of him stepping on the sidelines and simply not going back on the field. He spent 13 seasons (2003-2016) as a sideline analyst for FOX. He then went on to host a home renovation show Man Caves and also can be seen in several advertisements for Depends for Men. The diaper advertisement is understandable given Siragusa’s affection for eating, it makes sense to just strap a bag on and not worry about any bathroom visits. Retired, but as big as ever, Tony Siragusa is still a load and I for one would want no part of trying to block him, regardless of how old he may be. He still has one of the best personalities in sports.
7 Terrence Cody
The former Alabama stand-out never panned out in the NFL, playing in only 57 games over 4+ seasons and accounting for 46 tackles and 0 sacks as a defensive tackle. If his NFL career wasn’t enough of a disappointment, Cody was recently named as a suspect in an NCAA investigation, going back to 2009 (click here for that story, via ESPN.com).
If it’s not his disobedience of what I believe to be a garbage rule governing NCAA players, it’s Cody’s weight struggles that put him in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. Terrence Cody absolutely deserves his spot on this list as he let himself go even before football was over.
6 John Elway
The Horse-faced ruler of the Denver Broncos organization (what else do you call someone with the franchise titles of: Executive Vice President of Football Operations & General Manager, not to mention Super Bowl winning quarterback?). Elway, while not a hot-air balloon like some others on this list is significantly pudgier than he was during his playing career. Throw in the fact he resides in Denver, Colorado a good portion of the year (the cannabis capital of the USA) and it’s not hard to fathom Elway as an obese stoner who pretty soon won’t be able to get his Super Bowl rings off his chubby fingers (He’s clearly been smoking something, why else would he have brought back Brock Osweiler? The herb has clearly robbed him of his short-term memory).
5 John Madden
Uncle Turducken himself! The former coach and broadcaster was once a player, having been drafted in the 21st round (244th overall) in 1958. Unfortunately an injury suffered in training camp ended his career before it began. Many injuries back then are easily repaired via surgery today. Back then, there simply wasn’t the knowledge, resources, or equipment to do what they can do today.
Known for his obvious broadcast booth quips (If the ball crosses the goal line, it’s a TOUCHDOWN!), John Madden was famously known for his love of protein, especially around Thanksgiving time. He introduced the world to Turducken, a mixed spread of his three favourite meats and a retirement friendly meal. Enjoy the ‘gains’ John!
4 William Perry
William “Refrigerator” Perry would have been big in ANY era. Billed as a defensive tackle (and part-time full back), Perry stood 6’2’ and weighed in at 350 lbs (he was kind of a load to stop at the goal line). Following football, Perry stayed his Larger than Life self, actually competing in a 2002 charity boxing match against fellow human outlier 7’7’ Manute Bol (he would lose). Perry’s other boxing escapade came two years earlier (2000) when he lost a tough man competition to Bob Sapp. In the above photo, he is being weighed before participating in a hotdog eating contest. If I were Perry, I’d focus my energy more on eating hot dogs than punching heads at this stage of my life.
3 Vince Wilfork
To call Vince Wilfork an athlete could be met with a degree of skepticism one would have difficulty arguing against. He was good at his job, but to credit Wilfork’s technique, or studious nature for his NFL success only tells part of the story. In reality, Wilfork was successful because his presence essentially blocked out the sun on gameday. A two-time Super Bowl champion, five-time Pro Bowler and first ballot Hall of Fame eater, Wilfork fittingly announced his retirement in a commercial for charcoal.
Hanging up the cleats for the grill seems like the right career move for a man who spent the better part of his career eating running backs instead of just tackling them. We lost a lot of good men out there.
2 Eddie Lacy
Lacy remains marginally relevant in the NFL, although this may be his final year before he finds himself out of football, or perhaps looking for work north of the border in the CFL. Lacy’s struggles with weight issues have been well documented. He hung around with the Green Bay Packers for the better part of four seasons before signing with the Seahawks this off-season. During his time as a Packer, head coach Mike McCarthy routinely addressed Lacy’s weight issues. As a result of his well-documented struggles, his most recent contract with the Seattle Seahawks included incentives tied to his weight, requiring him to weigh-in at various stages of the NFL season. Once thought to be a Can’t Miss Prospect, Lacy now is nothing more than a possible spokesperson for a fast-food chain that promotes heartiness in its offerings.
1 Jared Lorenzen
Many may not be familiar with The Pillsbury Throw Boy, signed as undrafted free agent by the New York Giants in 2004. His first action came on a quarterback sneak, a play perfectly suited for quarterbacks built like Lorenzen. Playing sparingly throughout his career, Lorenzen’s NFL dream ended in 2009, when he was assigned to the Kentucky Horsemen of the Arena Football League’s Developmental League.
It doesn’t end there. Lorenzen would soon be named COMMISSIONER of the UIFL at the conclusion of the 2011 season. In an unprecedented move, still feeling he had something to give to the game, Lorenzen left the office of the Commissioner to RETURN TO FOOTBALL. After his latest team folded, Lorenzen returned to the River Monsters, now playing in the Continental Indoor Football League. Somehow still able to compete, despite his alarming obesity, Lorenzen ultimately fell victim to a broken tibia, effectively ending his football career.