NFL: Eagles coach Reid discusses weighty issue
By Bob Brookover
The Philadelphia Inquirer
BETHLEHEM, Pa. — It wasn’t doctor’s orders that led to Andy Reid’s substantial weight loss.
“I looked in the mirror,” the Eagles’ coach told The Philadelphia Inquirer on Friday after his team’s practice at Lehigh University. “Plus, you just have those aches and pains.”
Reid’s weight has been a topic of discussion ever since the Eagles named him their head coach more than a decade ago. His exact weight has never been known, but it’s safe to say it has almost always been north of a lot during his tenure with the team.
At least for now, it’s a lot less. Reid told an ESPN reporter recently that he had lost slightly more than 75 pounds on the Medifast diet plan. Like many overweight people who aren’t stand-up comedians, Reid does not particularly enjoy talking about the subject.
“I don’t want to make a big deal about it,” Reid told reporters after practice Friday. “I’ve got to get through Christmas first. You get toward the last part of that season and I watch you guys (reporters) swell up, and I swell up right with you. That’s where things get a little tougher.”
The stress of a long season is tough on every NFL coach, and Reid has often dealt with stress by eating. Using another diet plan — LA Weight Loss — four years ago, Reid also lost a considerable amount of weight. That company went out of business, and the pounds the coach shed eventually returned.
Reid, 51, said Medifast, a company based in Owings Mills, Md., had simplified his diet because he can have five easy-access meals a day. It is the same diet that University of Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen is on. During a May interview with the Washington Post, Friedgen said he had lost 86 pounds, including 16 in his first week on the Medifast plan.
“They have shakes, bars, and different meals that are all about 110 calories,” Reid said, adding that the taste of the product was good. “They have this chocolate pudding that is unbelievable.”
The Medifast Web site says the plan provides “a portion-controlled, nutritionally balanced, low fat and clinically proven program that helps people lose weight faster and more effectively than traditional diet plans.”
Eating has always been a bigger problem than exercise for Reid, an avid racquetball player. He also consistently uses the elliptical machine.
Though Reid isn’t keen on talking about his weight loss, it has not gone unnoticed by his players.
“I think for him, he realized he was gaining some weight and he just wanted to feel a lot better,” quarterback Donovan McNabb said. “I think he does feel better. I think he’s still on top of it and wants to do the right thing. You never know, maybe he will drop down under 300 and get back to trying to play tackle like he did at BYU. Hopefully, I’ll be gone by then. No, just kidding.”
McNabb said he had talked with his coach about his weight.
“The thing about it is, big guys sometimes get a little sensitive about their weight, so you don’t bring it up like that,” McNabb said. “You just want somebody to feel better, and I think he feels good. If we get him to move out of the all-black, then we’ll know he’s really confident about how he feels. But he’s going the right way about it. He’s not bragging about it. He’s just doing the right things and feeling good, so that’s good.”
One of the bigger guys on Reid’s roster — 330-pound center Jamaal Jackson — said this was the best he had seen his head coach look since Jackson had been on the team.
“It’s kind of scary, but it looks good,” Jackson said. “We can’t call him Big Red anymore.”
“We’ll just call him Red for right now,” Jackson said. “He did a good job. I think he lost somewhere around 80 pounds. With big guys, the thing is keeping it off. He’ll be able to keep it off here, because it’s hot.”
Jackson said Reid’s weight loss should motivate the players.
If a player sees the coach “making a conscious effort and getting in shape, that just makes everybody else want to rally behind him and do the same thing,” Jackson said. “I think a lot of guys came back in shape and everybody pretty much made their reporting weight.”
Kicker David Akers might be the most health-conscious player on the roster, and was happy to see Reid report to training camp with a reduced waistline.
“He looks great,” Akers said. “I told him about it. I said: ’You know, you look great. How much have you lost?’ He said he’s doing well, but I don’t know exactly how much. It’s just phenomenal.
“In today’s age, we have so much knowledge about being able to do stuff for our bodies. I’m just happy that he’s doing it for himself. It’s pretty dramatic what he’s lost since the end of last season. Six months. That’s impressive.”
Andy Reid wants to lose even more weight. He just doesn’t want to spend a lot of time talking about it.