IRVING, Texas — How important is it for NFL players to maintain a strict diet? Miami Dolphins wide receiver Chad Ochocinco has bragged about his ability to devour McDonald’s on a regular basis yet still stay in elite shape.
On the other hand, running back Joe McKnight said last month that eating at the same popular fast food establishment allowed him to gain 16 pounds his rookie season with the New York Jets.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant tweeted earlier this month that he had 3.1 percent body fat, later adding that he maintains that impressive number despite eating pizza and hamburgers. However, Bryant said last week that the tweet about eating junk food was simply a joke.
“I was being kind of sarcastic on Twitter when I’m talking about eating pizza and all that,” Bryant said. “Really it’s just hard work, trying to take care of your body the best way possible. I feel like being with [strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik], we’re learning a lot. And learning a lot from our teammates.”
Even if Bryant was being serious about eating whatever he wants, he’s aware that some of his teammates are extremely serious about their diets.
According to Bryant, Cowboys inside linebacker Sean Lee follows one of the strictest diets of anyone on the roster.
“I’ve dealt with a lot of injuries, so I’ve kind of had to adapt,” Lee said Thursday. “I’m always trying to eat healthy foods when it comes to high complex carbs, lean meats, vegetables, fruits — a real balanced diet. I’m always making sure that I’m eating right.”
Lee, who added that he learned some of his current diet tips from watching veterans like Jason Witten, said there is room for an occasional cheat day. When he gets that opportunity, Lee said he usually reaches for a dark chocolate bar.
Turning 30 at the end of July, DeMarcus Ware said he realizes that his diet is very important to continuing his future in the NFL. The elite pass-rusher says getting older means you also have to get smarter about taking care of your body.
“You’ve just got to eat better,” Ware said. “Still working out just a little more harder and keeping your body right. You’ve got to really hone in on that.”
Ware has started all but one game in his seven seasons with the Cowboys.
In 2009, Ware didn’t start Week 15 against the New Orleans Saints because of a sprained neck he suffered the week before against the San Diego Chargers. Ware played in that contest, recording two sacks and forcing two fumbles as the Cowboys upset the previously undefeated Saints.