For fans of the San Francisco 49ers, offensive tackle Joe Staley’s retirement was sadly expected. What was unexpected is how much weight Staley has lost since February.
After making his second Super Bowl appearance in his 13-season career with the 49ers, Staley has been living life outside of the NFL, which has included podcasting and interviews about the transition from his playing days.
Some of Staley’s most recent comments have come in an article from ESPN’s Emily Kaplan, who talked to the former 49er and other retired NFL offensive lineman about the transition from constant workouts and eating to living semi-normal lives.
As an offensive lineman, you’re always known as this big, humongous, unathletic blob. Offensive linemen get casted in a movie, and they’re always 500 pounds. Then you get the opportunity to be healthy again, and all of the effort you used to put into football, you put into that. It gives you a focus once you retire. It’s a little bit vain, but I’m starting to see abs that I’ve always wanted. And it’s kind of exciting.
Who can’t relate to Staley about wanting abs or the excitement of getting healthy? It’s an interesting perspective from him and other lineman, who have to put in immense physical effort in order to get to the NFL level, but also have to keep a certain frame and methodology of eating just to maintain.
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2,000-Calorie Shakes and Eating in College
For many who get to move on the college level, it’s a dramatic elevation in conditioning, training and eating. While most positions require a balance between power and agility, linemen’s dependence on size and power means that college years are spent eating as much as possible.
For Staley, that meant some pretty intense habits and actions, explaining that his process at Central Michigan included midnight 2,000-calorie shakes.
I had these premade weight-gainer shakes; they were probably 2,000 calories each. I’d wake myself up in the middle of the night, down that, go back to bed.
I was bloated for four years straight. You know when you overeat after a really nice dinner at an Italian restaurant, you just eat all these courses and leave feeling gross? That’s how I felt the entire time in college.
Staley also explained that going from 215 pounds to 295 by the time he left Central Michigan meant that he constantly had to wear bigger clothes, and that he couldn’t afford them, requiring him to borrow from other Chippewas. So not only is it a challenge to gain that weight and overeat, but there’s other issues that spawn from it.
Staley’s New Snack of Choice
Staley went on to explain that he didn’t discriminate when eating in his NFL days, but that he’s happy to make the change.
“In the NFL, I always ate when I was hungry and whatever was available,” Staley said. “If it was salmon, great. If it was frozen pizza, I’d eat that too.”
The former San Francisco standout explained that his No.1 snack, chips and salsa, has been replaced by something a little less conventional — broccoli with an almond-based vegan dip.
If the lost weight is any sign, Staley’s new snacking choices are working for him.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, Mont. Reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier and join our 49ers community at Heavy on 49ers on Facebook.