January 31, 2006

Heavy NFL players twice as likely to die before 50: Experts say that our lust for bigger and better lineman is going to kill our favorite stars...

posted by mcstan13 to football at 01:40 PM - 24 comments

I agree with the premise of the article, that being overweight is the number one contributor to heart disease. I also agree that the weight of the average lineman is getting out of hand. Most of them are no longer athletes, they are just overly strong fat guys. However, towards the middle of the article, Professor Charles Yesalis, who teaches health policy and sports science at Penn State says that he fully supports a weight limit of 275 pounds. That is extreme and ridiculous. What about the athletes who are 6'8"+ and can easily weigh 300 lbs (what about Shaq, are you going to kick him out of the NBA). This absurdity aside, I agree that the NFL as well as all professional sports need to start increasing health standards to protect these guys from themselves. Like or not they are role models and they need promote good health. Plus it is devastating to see these athletes dying at such young ages when it is preventable. However, let us all keep in mind that our society as a whole has this same problem...me included.

posted by mcstan13 at 01:50 PM on January 31, 2006

I guess in one sense it's better that these guys are playing football so they are at least getting some exercise, but bulking up on purpose is just plain stupid. I remember in the movie "Paper Lion" Detriot players were actually fined for each pound over 300 that they were carrying at the start of training camp. Maybe it's time to go back to something like that. Better yet, fine the team twice what you fine the players.

posted by commander cody at 01:52 PM on January 31, 2006

I don't see the idea of a limit flying in the NFL anytime soon- I think this all began around the time of the 'Hogs' in Washington and what they did to Buffalo in the Super Bowl- The NFL is highly suceptable to fads (see: Cover two or Zone Blitz), so maybe if we see a lighter offensive line being effective against the behemoths of their opponents, it might swing things around a bit... I believe they did a segment on this for one of the cable TV sports shows, and it showed most of the players were well aware of what they were doing to themselves, yet were willing to risk it for the prospects of keeping their jobs...

posted by don-peyote at 02:00 PM on January 31, 2006

But again, isn't that the point... That the NFL needs to protect these guys from acting stupidly. If you are welder, you are required by your job to wear a hood to keep from damaging your eyesight.

posted by mcstan13 at 02:19 PM on January 31, 2006

If any measurement should be used to set a limit, it should not be total weight. It should be body mass index.

posted by Bill Lumbergh at 02:33 PM on January 31, 2006

My son is 10 years old and he's playing football they have him as a linebacker. He's really good at the game and dreams of being a pro. At this stage he is still quite young but I will flip if he tries to bulk himself up like that.

posted by jtrluva at 02:51 PM on January 31, 2006

Oops I meant to type lineman.

posted by jtrluva at 03:10 PM on January 31, 2006

It is not "our lust for bigger and better lineman that is going to kill them", but themselves and the front offices of NFL teams. Personally, i thought interior line play,in particular DEFENSIVE line play was much more entertaining in the 60's and 70's when the players were more mobile and well rounded as athletes . I bet most fans could name more D-linemen from 4 teams of that era (Rams Fearsome Foursome, Cowboys Doomsday Defense, Steelers Steel Curtain, and Vikings Purple People Eaters) than they can from the whole NFL over the last 15 years ! Is bigger really better, or just a necessary equalizer in today's game? And if 'roids are a part of it, you can not put that on the fans, but on the individual in question trying to keep up or gain an unfair advantage, and , most certainly, knowingly putting his own health at risk.

posted by mjkredliner at 03:23 PM on January 31, 2006

Jtrluva- would you keep your son from bulking up if he loved the game and his high school coach told him he needed to way at least 295 in order to get a college scholarship? During the cable special, they had Sam Adams and a couple other guys sitting around a table eating a gargantuan meal- they all looked straight at the camera and shrugged, saying "I was told I would have to be heavier to compete at this level"... Meaning that the teams left it up to the players to 'voluntarily' bulk up on their own...

posted by don-peyote at 03:29 PM on January 31, 2006

I don't think that an artificial limit is in anyone's best interest. If a limit is to be imposed (and I agree that it's necessary) it should be one of BMI or body fat percentage. Just being heavier is a shortcut to death. Some guys really are bigger (Charger's Shawn Merriman at +/-280# with minimal body fat). His BMI would make him undesirable, so a pure BMI isn't the answer. A body fat index still seems best. BTW, my 12 year old LB/FB is getting heavier now through supervised weight training mixed with cardio work. He's determined to stay a "stud". There's nothing wrong with that. Toad

posted by Toad8572 at 03:57 PM on January 31, 2006

Experts say that our lust for bigger and better lineman is going to kill our favorite stars... i wonder if most people's favorite stars include those who battle in the trenches, but your point is well taken. as much as i appreciate grady jackson's run stuffing, i can easily see him as one of the athletes at risk in this story.

posted by ninjavshippo at 04:04 PM on January 31, 2006

WAH WAH WAH in some jobs it would be considered illegal to discriminate against someone because they are overweight. The fat guys in the NFL are quick and agile. They probably don't have a higher death rate than other fat guys all over the world. We live in a free country. Freedom sometimes means the freedom to hurt yourself ie: smoke, eat too much, drink too much etc. As far as I am concerned let them eat, drink, take steroids, and screw themselves to death its their choice. Its a free country and they get paid really well. These athletes are babied, coddled, and given everything their whole lives. Well in the pros they are all grown up and I think its about time they take responsibility for themselves. Stop trying to tell them what to do, it's pretty evident they don't listen anyway. Heck between the felons, sex offenders, drug users and just plain socially irresponsible athletes we have in pro sports, it's ridiculous to think anybody should waste time trying to put the NFL on the Jenny Craig diet plan.

posted by Atheist at 04:10 PM on January 31, 2006

Related: Last year, I posted a series of articles by Carl Prine of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that are still worth a read.

posted by NoMich at 04:37 PM on January 31, 2006

well said atheist, this is america. if i want to eat then i am going to eat. if i dont want to be fat and risk health problems then i will loose weight. for gods sake dont let the government infringe upon our rights

posted by coshocton at 05:09 PM on January 31, 2006

If anything is used BMI is the way to go. Let them on the field. If smaller and more agile can do the job better so be it. No one forces the fork from table to mouth It took a wake up call to get me from 403 to 175, but I did that of course I do not play sports and never did.

posted by Aggie1 at 05:44 PM on January 31, 2006

Hey if thats your job and you need it (the weight) to perform then let them be as they will be. But its there choice to stay that big after they are done playing at 30-36 years old. They should have enough sense to lose it then and get down to a respectable weight and if they don't then its there own fault at that time. You can't police everything, people have to be responsible for there own actions

posted by GBFan at 06:52 PM on January 31, 2006

...there is something missing from this entire post. the word DUH. traditionally, obese=not as likely to live as fitter people.

posted by 15yroldkid at 07:37 PM on January 31, 2006

You will see leaner, stronger and quicker players in the near future. And on the front line in the trenches without steroids. It's coming, so get ready for it. Porkers out and Herculeans in. You wait and see, that is if you're not 6'2" 395 lbs. You may not be around to see it materalize. 50 years old? So young.

posted by pokchop at 08:24 PM on January 31, 2006

When it becomes a detriment to the game, when the meat mass can't run a loose ball in for a TD, maybe then. I have seen much leaner sumo wrestlers take down or out finesse much, much heavier opponents. And really after roids are withdrawn is'nt blubber whats left?

posted by kosmicdebris at 09:30 PM on January 31, 2006

As long as the NFL continues to churn out 290# d-lineman that can run the 40yd dash in around 4.7 -4.8 seconds you will continue see the big "fat" 320# offensive lineman that can run the 40yd dash in about 5.0 - 5.2 seconds. Get off the steroids issue this is the NFL not MLB, the NFL actually has a drug policy that works and discourages the use for any player with common sense. Now for the excess weight issue. I think it is all about motivation. I wish the NFL would give retired players a bonus as they shed the weight they played with. I could see it now.... It is hard to be motivated to work out after doing it for 12-15 ect. years because you "had to". After becoming unemployed by the NFL it is easy for players to wake up the next day and say....hmmmmm work out for what reason??? Retired means not doing a job any more and working out is part of the NFL job. But, I'll bet as crazy as it sounds if the NFL had weight loss bonuses for retired players, most offensive lineman would shed the weight quicker. Lets face it we are all motivated by money. Yeah, I want to be around when my kids have kids, but you offer me a few thousand to shed some pounds, I am all over it. Look at the show biggest loser. Offer some people a little money and bam...suddenly they are weight loss experts. If the NFL pays to become big and stay big during employment they should step up and offer assistance on the loss side of the issue. Just a thought....send it on to taglibue.

posted by bvstore78 at 12:27 AM on February 01, 2006

don-peyote- That is a difficult question. I wouldn't want to hold him back from his dream but I also wouldn't want himi to be unhealthy to acheive it either. But when it comes down to it I really can't stop him if he wants to gain the weight he will. I suppose where he is still young I could try to encourage a position change. It's just hard because he likes to hit people but he doesn't have tremendous speed.

posted by jtrluva at 07:21 AM on February 01, 2006

Atheist...On the flip side there ARE many jobs that do require health standards. (Police, Firefighter, Military, etc.) Also if you check the trends in society, many employers are beginning to offer incentives for employees to get healthier. You are right, but I think that the weight problem is becoming a major public health hazard and the Supreme Court may become more lax in allowing certain professions to slim down...Especially athletes who are supposed to be healthy and are in the limelight.

posted by mcstan13 at 08:50 AM on February 01, 2006

bvstore, Pay athletes to lose weight after they retire from football? Do you want the cost moved on to the already ridiculously high ticket prices? A guy making 2 mil a year can pay for his own weight loss program with a shrink included. Players can be warned of this aspect of their occupation, just as they're warned about hanging out in wild places, overspending with hangons and fast women. Lean players will prevail!!!!!

posted by pokchop at 09:10 AM on February 01, 2006

>>> BTW, my 12 year old LB/FB is getting heavier now through supervised weight training mixed with cardio work. He's determined to stay a "stud". There's nothing wrong with that. posted by Toad8572 at 3:57 PM CST on January 31 <<<< It's pro football and this is America enough said on that matter. You do however spread light on a disturbing trend. Children working out with weights is a no-no. We were not even allowed in the weight room until our junior year of high school. Weight training, even light repetitions, can stunt a childs growth excessive muscle density can hinder a childs bone growth. This should be discontinued immediately. Push-ups, sit-ups, and bar dips mixed with lunges and stretching exercises should do your child very well until he is at an sge where lifting weights is suitable.

posted by htilammi at 04:18 PM on February 01, 2006

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