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Original Issue

What Do NFL Linemen Eat?

SI Players’ Sarah Thurmond went to the table to find out

Eagles DT Hollis Thomas (6 feet, 330 pounds) met Thurmond at Philadelphia’s Capital Grille at 4:00 p.m. on Nov. 30.

[FIRST COURSE: Double portion of cheesecake; strawberry sauce; graham cracker crust.]

SI: Cheesecake first, huh?

THOMAS: You got to eat dessert first to see if the food is any good. You want any? I ordered two slices, but they’re for me.

SI: That’s all right. So what will you get, the porterhouse?

THOMAS: No. Since I normally get so many appetizers, I get the filet mignon. I try to stay away from the pastas. I’ve got to watch my weight.

SI: I see. So I hear your parents were both cooks.

THOMAS: My mom, Carolyn, can bake and cook, but my dad, Jerome, is a real chef. He worked in the restaurant where I used to work in high school and during summers I was in college, Kirkwood Ice and Fuel in St. Louis. They have the best nachos I ever had. And they have this Snicker cheesecake and Reese’s Key Lime pie. Delicioso! That’s where I learned some of the finer points of cooking. I was a food prep and a dishwasher extraordinaire.

[SECOND COURSE: A half-dozen shrimp and a half-dozen oysters; cocktail sauce.]

THOMAS: You gonna watch me eat these oysters? They’re a sexual aphrodisiac, you know.

SI: I know. I won’t be having any.

THOMAS: So, how’s your love life?

SI: Focus, Hollis. I’m interviewing you, remember? So what were the staples of your diet growing up?

THOMAS: I didn’t have a diet when I was growing up.

SI: Do you cook?

THOMAS: I cook fried chicken real good. Actually, spaghetti’s my best dish. I cook it with a compilation of seasoned ground beef, tomato sauce, tomato paste. I make the sauce nice, rich and thick. Can’t give you all my secrets though.

[THIRD COURSE: Filet mignonwith onions; creamed spinach; mashed potatoes.]

SI: Have you ever wanted to be thin?

THOMAS: I was a skinny kid until high school, when I started playing sports. I don’t worry about being thin. That’s something everyone else does. If I was meant to be thin, I would be thin.

SI: You used to weigh about 370 pounds. Then, before last season, you started working with a nutritionist. How come?

THOMAS: I had just come back from my second surgery on my foot, and I wanted to be a healthy player and have a long career in the NFL.

SI: What were you eating before then?

THOMAS: Anything I wanted.

SI: What were your top five foods?

THOMAS: Mom’s meat loaf. Dad’s lasagna. Mom’s turtle cake with sour cream icing. Pineapple upside-down cake. Fried fish.

SI: You say you really watch your weight in the off-season now, right?

THOMAS: In the first six weeks of the off-season my nutritionist has me take out sugar, butter and salt. I can eat Splenda. First meal of the day is egg whites and oatmeal. Second is a protein drink or a protein meal with chicken or fish and rice or sweet potatoes. Then I’ll have another protein meal. At night I have protein with vegetables. I have about five meals a day.

SI: What did you think when you were first put on this diet?

THOMAS: I was mad. I was about to cry when [his nutritionist] took all my stuff out of my refrigerator and threw it out.

SI: Do you have any contractual stipulations about weight?

THOMAS: I’ve got to be at 327 when I’m weighed on certain weeks of the season. I stick around 330 or 335 so I can just run to get to 327. I used to have to be 315. That was killing me.

SI: So, where to now, Hollis?

THOMAS: I’m going home to take a nap. Then I’ll work out for an hour.


WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS: Cardinals guard Leonard (Big) Davis, the NFL’s heaviest player (384 pounds; 6'6"), eats two bowls of Lucky Charms for breakfast.... Oakland’s 6'8", 345-pound tackle Langston Walker (right) plays on the AFC’s weightiest offensive line (average: 321 pounds). “I eat a lot and probably very badly,” he says of a lifestyle that includes “ice cream ... chocolate, peanut butter or cookies and cream” and trips to Carl’s Jr.... Tennessee’s 307-pound rookie DT Randy Starks says, “I’m a snacker. My favorite snack is blueberry Pop-Tarts.”


Al Tielemans