On most Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the off-season, tackle Joe Walter lifted weights at the Cincinnati Bengals' training facility, a spartan, corrugated-metal building underneath a city viaduct. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, he practiced run and pass blocking at a college field, using a resistance-training contraption. Also, Walter's personal trainer, Dave Guidugli, put him through a weekly 90-minute boxer's workout that would test a Tyson: a two-mile run, followed by stretching exercises, then nine rounds of boxing-related drills inside the ring, then vertical jumping and exploding out of a lineman's stance, then hard tossing and catching a 15-pound medicine ball, then 300 sit-ups.... You get the idea.
"If Joe didn't work out in the off-season, it would really show compared to a running back," says Guidugli. "Joe would probably have a big belly hanging over his belt."
Walter, 28, stands 6'7" and weighs 306 pounds, and he has already had one major knee operation, following the '88 season. But through his own sweat and through Guidugli's torture sessions, Walter runs as fast as he ever has—5.1 seconds in the 40—as a pro. "You can't just be the tough guy in the trenches anymore," Guidugli says. "The defensive end today is so quick and so powerful that offensive linemen have to be strong and have very quick feet."
Then there's Walter's diet, which has changed dramatically since he met his wife, Belinda. She's fitness- and diet-conscious, and she shoves pasta and broccoli in front of him. In his bachelor days—and Walter swears this is true—he would eat at Burger King three times a day.
"You can't just show up at camp anymore," Walter says. "Now the competition is so demanding, you can't assume anything. Each summer, I feel like I'm presenting my body to the Bengals coaching staff, like I'm going to a job interview."
Until Belinda came along, Walter's diet was fruitless.