How a Football Player Eats

By Beacon Staff

First of all, you need to know I used to be a far bigger guy than the 200 or so pounds that now spreads across my shrinking 5-foot-8-inch frame.

I was a 144-pound sixth grader, and by the time I started my junior year in high school at Gonzaga Prep in Spokane, I tipped the scales somewhere north of 260 pounds.

And while I dropped a little weight during high school baseball and the subsequent American Legion baseball season, I was about that weight when I enlisted in the U.S. Navy after graduating from high school in 1962.

I vividly recall when I returned to Spokane from nine weeks of Navy boot camp and an additional eight weeks at the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot in San Diego, where I first learned that the Marines didn’t have their own medics, but instead recruited us hapless Swabbies. Then, I weighed less than 160 pounds.

But nearing my discharge in 1968, I was back in the 250-range and by the time I arrived at Olympic in Bremerton, the junior college roster listed me at a robust 286 pounds.

So why am I sharing this with you?

Well, just a little background because several years ago I underwent gastric bypass surgery and slimmed downto around 200 pounds.

So going on the road with the Montana Grizzly football team, like the recent trip to California, presents me with a major problem.

You see, 18-to-22-year-old football players, especially given the physical demands on their bodies and their metabolism, warrant a whole lot more calories than a guy with a 5 1/2-ounce stomach, let alone someone with normal capacity.

These guys eat!

I sure can see why their parents wanted them out of the house and, whether they are on scholarship at the University of Montana, it must take an enormous burden off the grocery bill when Junior heads off to college. Either way, the home front just received a scholarship.

So here’s the feed-bag scenario for the recent game at Davis, Calif.

Full-scale breakfast at about 9 a.m., followed by a protein filled pre-game meal at 2 p.m., prior to the 7 p.m. kickoff.

Now that’s sounds reasonable, right? After all, two meals in the first five hours of the day does not seem that abnormal, except for the pile of food placed on most plates and the return for a second helping. But after all these are growing guys, right?

Of course there’s the usual afternoon snacking on their own and then, after the game is over – prior to the bus leaving for the airport for the charter plane flight back to Missoula – don’t stand in the way of that 58-man roster on their way to the buses.

Here in a paper sack is two burritos, the usual assortment of nutritional drinks for hydration and a bag full of chips.

Now I’m not talking about the kind of burrito you have in mind.

These, I swear, were two inches thick, six inches long and three inches wide and filled with every condiment and either chicken or steak. And there were two of them!

I ate the last of mine three days later.

But that’s not all.

When we get to the airplane, it’s time for the sack lunch. Yet another sack, albeit white instead of brown this time – I guess so you could tell which one to reach into on the return flight home.

In it is a 5-inch-long Poor Boy sandwich (mine was ham), chips, a candy bar, an apple and two cookies.

And that’s just Saturday. That doesn’t count the pair of double-doubles the guys got for a snack from In-and-Out Burger to complement the French fries and shakes at 10 p.m. the previous night.

Can you say 10,000 calories in less than 24 hours?

Is it any wonder that I don’t have to buy food at home for a week when I return from a Griz road trip?

Life on the road with the Griz: It’s a challenging endeavor, but somebody has to do it.

When do we leave for Arizona?

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.