Our favorite athletes are kind of like superheroes come to life. With all their home runs and slam dunks, it becomes all too easy to forget that they’re just people. And like most people, they tend to change over the years–sometimes so much that you can barely recognize them. Playing in the NFL can take a toll on your body. It’s not just the brain-rattling hits, either. If you want to be a lineman in the league, you need to bulk up and stay that way. Matt Birk knows that better than anyone. “First of all I was I was 310 – 320 pounds, I’m really not built to carry that kind of weight.” At his peak weight, he developed varicose veins and a habit of eating two burrito bowls for dinner. Suffice it to say, it wasn’t sustainable, and he knew it.
After winning the Super Bowl in his fifteenth season, at the age of 37, Birk decided to walk away and right the ship. In the years that followed, he lost 75 pounds and 10 inches from his waist. The father of six even began a new career as a model, competing in the Vi Model competition back in 2014 to showcase his new physique. There have been a lot of ups and downs over Chris “Birdman” Andersen’s 18-year career.
A fresh-faced kid with a knack for pulling down rebounds, he soon found a place in the league. Unfortunately, he also soon found trouble with allegations of drug use. He would come back from all the controversy, winning a championship with the Miami Heat in 2013. Still, the hard living clearly had an effect on him. Now more famous for his legendary ink than he is for his skills on the court, Birdman has one last transformation to conquer: retirement. This six-time All-Pro, who won a Super Bowl with the Steelers, decided to make a big change after retiring from the NFL. Alan Faneca started by watching what he ate, lowering his calorie intake and doing cardio six days a week. He told Fox Sports what he really missed, though: “Those chocolate, peanut butter protein shakes with big scoops of peanut butter. They were about 1,000 calories each, and I used to eat three a day. I definitely miss those.” Clocking in at 500 pounds, football player Antone Davis knew he needed to make a change.
That’s what led him to compete on NBC’s The Biggest Loser in the hopes of turning his life around. He ended up losing 200 pounds, or more than 45% of his body mass, in the grueling competition, and transformed his life in the process. He went on to work with the Tennessee football program as head of their Vol For Life program, helping young players learn about life outside of football, and avoid the mistakes he made along the way. So yeah, maybe it’s a good thing he put that burrito down. “Burrito’s the best thing that ever happened to me, so just leave us alone.” Baseball’s Barry Bonds was one of the best players of his generation. Some might argue he was the best player of all time. And then he went and messed it all up. The lanky superstar allegedly started his own performance enhancing habit and turned into a muscle-bound monster.
He broke the records and he took back the spotlight, then went to court for it. His transformation continued after he retired when he shrunk back down to his normal, lean self. Wrestler Rulon Gardner has had a tough go of it since defeating Russian Alexander Karelin for gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. It’s still considered one of the greatest upsets in Olympics history, making the Utah wrestler an instant star. Sadly, he struggled with his health in the years after that, ballooning up to an incredible 400 pounds. At age 40, he went on NBC’s The Biggest Loser in the hope of losing half his body weight and qualifying for the Olympic team.
He failed to make weight, dropping to 280 before putting a hundred pounds back on. There are stories of players falling apart after retiring, and there are stories of players being reborn, but Sammy Sosa took it to a whole new level. For his part, Sosa claims that his skin bleaching is a side effect of a facial cream that he uses. The former athlete told Univision Spanish, “It’s a cream that I have, that I use to soften [my skin], but has bleached me some. I’m not a racist, I live my life happily.” So that settles that. “Sammy Sosa, you know I love you man. Stop it, Sammy Sosa! STOP IT SAMMY SOSA!” Thanks for watching! Click the Grunge icon to subscribe to our YouTube channel.
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