How Offensive Linemen Struggle With Body Weight and Fitness

Is gaining and then losing dozens of pounds over a year sustainable?

Offensive lineman John Greco of the Cleveland Browns in November 2015
Former NFL offensive lineman John Greco is one of the athletes interviewed.
George Gojkovich/Getty
By Tobias Carroll / May 6, 2020 6:30 am

If you’re an offensive lineman, you may well have a more complex relationship with your body than most professional athletes — and that’s saying something. In order to be ready for the season, you’re going to need to build up plenty of mass. But once the season’s over, it’s crucial to shed that extra weight so that it doesn’t prove detrimental to your health. If that sounds like a paradox, you’re not wrong — but it’s something numerous athletes have to deal with on an annual basis.

Writing at The Ringer, John Gonzalez explored this paradoxical relationship in closer detail. Gonzalez notes that this goes beyond a seasonal phenomenon — many former offensive linemen have also seen radical changes in their appearance after their playing days have ended. For some, that’s involved rapid weight loss on a dramatic scale.

John Greco, who spent over a decade in the NFL, told Gonzalez that questions of food were an ongoing concern. “It’s just something that everyone deals with on a personal level, whether you’re struggling to put it on or take it off,” he said.

Among the most dramatic examples cited in the article is that of Barrett Brooks. As a college freshman, he weighed 245 pounds; by the time of his final NFL season, he had reached 342. His weight has increased from there:

These days, Brooks weighs 358. He said he wants to lower that number, maybe even tuck in under the 300-pound mark, but “no matter how much I work out, my metabolism isn’t as fast as it used to be.” It worries him. He knows how much strain he’s putting on his body.

While head injuries have understandably been discussed most frequently in terms of health issues plaguing former football players, Gonzalez’s article demonstrates that they’re not the only cause for concern out there.

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