Seahawks aren’t nearly as naïve about weight as they once were

Logo -- Free agencyThe two hefty takeaways from the Seahawks’ signing of Eddie Lacy were: (1) They want him to pound the ball; (2) they want him to drop some pounds first.

To that end, the team instituted $385,000 in weight clauses for the running back — giving him specific targets from May through the season.

As Pete Carroll said, “We have a real plan for this or we wouldn’t have done it.”

Weight clauses are nothing new in the NFL, but the way they are handled certainly has changed — for teams like Seattle anyway.

Andrew Brandt, who worked with John Schneider in Green Bay, recently expressed some concern over such weight clauses, writing that they tend to be “counterproductive and detrimental to a player’s health.”

But there should be no concern over the way the Seahawks approach this. They are cutting edge when it comes to taking care of their players — measuring sleep patterns, tailoring diets, tracking physical activity, limiting practice time, using great patience in player rehab.

They are more advanced than many of their contemporaries — and certainly light years beyond the Neanderthal ways of earlier NFL eras.

In our book, “Then Zorn Said to Largent,” former Seahawks Paul Moyer and Dave Wyman hilariously detailed some of the crazy ways players would try to make weight — and the exact detrimental results Brandt referenced.

“We had to weigh in on Fridays, and we were fined $50 for every pound we were overweight. The things we would do to lose the weight were ridiculous. It was the stupidest thing ever.

“If you were six pounds over the night before, you would go in early. First of all, you would take a dump. Then you would go into the steam room. And you wouldn’t eat anything. And, by the morning meeting, everyone was practically anemic.

“We couldn’t weight until weigh-in was over, because Friday was doughnut day, and rookies had to bring the doughnuts. All the guys who came in early to work off the extra five pounds would end up devouring doughnuts.

“After practice, they would bring Ezell’s chicken. Not just a few drumsticks, but a frickin’ feast. Ezell would bring in the rolls and the corn on the cob and the cole slaw and about 200 dead chickens. It was an all-you-can-eat buffet.

“So, to sum up the process on Fridays, it was: Arrive early, sweat off water weight all morning in the sauna, eat doughnuts so you don’t pass out at practice, and then after practice replace all of the water weight you lost with greasy fried chicken.

“Then we’d go run over to TGI Friday’s and drink two pitchers of beer. So, after coming in at 198 pouds on Friday, by Sunday you would weigh 212. Because you ate so much, you literally felt fat.”

One year, Moyer came to camp with around 5 percent body fat, feeling stronger and faster than ever. One day, coach Chuck Knox said, “I noticed your weight is 218.” Moyer said, “Yeah, I worked out hard, Coach.” Knox asked what he weighed last year. Moyer told him 202. And then Knox said, “I want you down to 205.”

“So,” Moyer said, “I starved myself for the next month to get down from 218 to the opening-season target weight of 205. My body fat shot to about 8 percent. I slowed down because I just wasn’t as strong.

“Can you imagine practicing twice a day in camp and starving yourself so you could lose 13 pounds when you had nothing to give? I would get the shakes during practice because my blood-sugar level would drop so fast. The trainers would end up giving me sugar pills to help.”

One year, Wyman arrived at 250 but was listed at 245. “So I mustered the courage to go into Chuck’s office to ask for a higher weight. He paused with a look on his face as if he were doing a math formula and then said, ‘OK, now your weight is … 246.’ He gave me one single extra pound.

“It got even worse after Chuck joined a bunch of coaches in a Slim-Fast Weight Loss Challenge in 1990. He lost 63 pounds, won the contest and came to camp looking like a bobblehead. He was already a stickler on weight; but, after that, it was hell for the rest of us because he became so self-righteous about it: ‘If I can do it, you can do it.’

“Why did we put ourselves through that misery when we could have just paid the $150 or $200 for being a few pounds over official weight? It was pride and a competitive thing. We wanted to prove we could do it. And we didn’t want to disappoint Chuck.

“We were like beauty contestants. We would be checking ourselves in the mirror, asking things like, ‘Do these pants make my butt look big?'”

Among the other things teammates did to make weight:

“Patrick Hunter, who had 3 percent body fat, would drink some stuff out of a green bottle that would give him diarrhea Thursday night. He would come in at 6 a.m. Friday and hit the sauna. He would spend half the morning in the bathroom trying to get under weight.

“It was all about losing water weight. Cortez Kennedy was the king of that. Tez was 320 pounds and probably carried 40 pounds of water weight at any one time. He’d come in and sit in the sauna starting about 6 a.m. By the time the rest of us got there, the entire locker room smelled like whatever Tez had eaten the night before.

“John L. Williams and James Jones and sometimes Patrick Hunter and Kenny Easley would wear plastic pullovers under their jerseys and tape their sleeves shut around the wrists so they would sweat even more during practice.

“Nutritionists and weight coaches now would tell them, ‘All you’re going to do is start cramping up.’ We just didn’t understand nutrition and body fat the way we do today. It was all about the numbers on the scale.”

 

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