NFL Players Are Getting Bigger, But Is That Better?

Guy Whimper
Guy Whimper - 2011 Top NFL Lineman
Chet Adams
Chet Adams - 1942 Top NFL Lineman

While golf will always be my #1 sport, we can’t ignore the giant, commercial-packed elephant in the room that is the Super Bowl. So for at least one post, I’ll give in and talk about football. If you check out the pictures, you might know exactly where this post is going. Bigger, faster, and stronger is the bottom line in professional football. We’ve can tell that just from the pics a. But now there’s research to back it up.

A new study from Grand Valley State University in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research did an analysis of the average height, weight, and body fat percentage of college and professional football players from 1942 to 2011. They found that while players in all positions gained weight over time and increased body fat, some positions really bulked up. College interior lineman gained about one to two pounds per year over 60 years and professional linemen gained up to 1.5 pounds per year over 70 years. That’s adding over 100 pounds to the line! Men’s Health points out that in 1980 there were only three NFL players weighing more than 300 pounds, now there are nearly 400 players!

While all that extra weight makes the line stronger, it isn’t making the players healthier after retirement. On of the scientists on the study, Jeffery Potteiger, explained, “If you have all these individuals who are encouraged to gain a lot of body weight over a short period of time, then that puts them at risk for developing diabetes, heart disease, or kidney disease.” A 2008 study found that retired linemen had almost double the amount of risk factors such as obesity and heart disease compared to non-linemen players. Former players Fred Matua and Reggie White, both at 300 pounds or over, died of heart problems. Matua was only 28.

There is an emphasis now amongst trainers to build up players correctly. They’ll get bigger, but the objective is also to keep them healthy. And healthy is how we like to see our favorite players.

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