If you’ve seen Saturday lately, you know how seriously he’s taken trimming down after his playing days came to an end in January. The 6-foot-2, 38-year-old retiree has dropped well over 50 pounds from his playing weight of around 300, and no doubt feels better than he has since his early 20s.
Former linemen like Saturday often lose weight in retirement, as they find they can’t function with that level of mass once their physical training regimens lessen. On the other hand, many skill players and linebackers balloon up the minute they don’t have to worry about maintaining speed anymore.
Regardless of position, life after pro football is often more brutal than the gridiron for former players. Alcoholism and drug abuse are rampant, as many try anything to dull their physical pain or the agony of no longer being in the spotlight. Sadly, nearly 80 percent of all players end up bankrupt, divorced or both.
Yet despite the physical and emotional damage often caused by their careers, the vast majority of past players say they wouldn’t have changed a thing, that whatever time they had on the field was worth whatever the consequences might be.
In the end, that is why we love the NFL. They are modern-day gladiators, sacrificing their bodies for the honor of their cities (and a big paycheck). Some are here and gone quickly (say, Bob Sanders), while others (like Saturday) bring their fire to the field and gracious personality to their community for lengthy periods of time. They are like comic book heroes, who put on their cape on Sundays.
Unfortunately, comic book characters aren’t real, and the misery that often follows an NFL career is.
— Brent Glasgow is a sports writer for the Hendricks County Flyer and the Westside Flyer. He may be reached by e-mailing to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 272-5800 ext. 190.