|credit daveynin on Flickr|
I grew up in suburban Philadelphia, only a few miles from Eagles training camp at West Chester University. During the 1980s, the Eagles vs. Cowboys rivalry was one of the best ones going. And it brought out lots of bizarre behavior in my feathered brethren (stay classy, Philadelphia). Eagles coach Buddy Ryan put a bounty on the Cowboy’s place kicker. A future governor passed out twenties to any fan who could hit a Cowboy with a snowball from the 700 level. There was no love lost.
I’ve now mellowed on the Cowboys, just a little. Even though you could build 60 elementary schools with what it cost to build their stadium (literally), you have to marvel at how well the franchise has been run. It’s really not that often that their coach gets busted taking guns through airports or their players get caught trafficking 175 pounds of marijuana (Nate, what WERE you thinking???). And the pep squad isn’t too bad looking.
So it is in this new spirit of détente that I kick off the 2010 NFL season with a Pounds Off Profile of Nate Newton. The six-time Pro Bowl lineman has lost 130 pounds following gastric sleeve surgery, which is the equivalent of squishing your stomach from a football down to a banana, I am told.
I’m conservative about weight loss surgery, believing that it should be undertaken only after diet and exercise no longer are viable options and surgery is needed to avoid serious health issues. In Newton’s case, it seems to have made sense. He topped out at 411 pounds, with diabetes and high blood pressure. At 48 years old, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say he was going to die. So he had the surgery and started exercising two hours a day. So far, it’s been a success, thank goodness.
I’ve used the phrase “guilty pleasure” to describe overweight entertainers before. But the NFL has the corner on that market. In fact, in trying to find pro football player weight loss stories, I’ve found a disturbing number of cases where players get in trouble with their team for losing too much weight. That being the case, let’s acknowledge Nate Newton. He should have found health before his post career troubles found him. He probably could have done it without surgery if he’d have acted sooner. But he’s doing it. He’s lost 130 pounds and he’s healthier than he’s been in years. This is one Cowboy I’ll be rooting for. Tony Romo, not so much.