Go With Your Gut: The Best Of Sports’ Shapely Stars
Not all athletes look like athletes, and not all athletes represent the pinnacle of fitness. And the athletes on this less-than-impressive list were some of the least fit in history, looking more suitable for a rec beer league than professional sports. Now, getting on this list isn’t a knock on talent, just work ethic, although there is a high correlation between short, lackluster careers and lack of physical fitness. Without further adieu, here are the most out of shape athletes in sports.
Bartolo Colon is a miracle. He’s a 285-pound, 45-year-old still throwing in the big leagues as of the end of the 2018 season. And here, the emphasis in big leagues is on big. Thanks to his unusually rotund appearance, Bartolo Colon earned the nickname “Big Sexy,” something he doesn’t mind.
While Colon is actually quite nimble and athletic, his weight has been ballooning since he entered the league back in 1997. In fact, while he was in Cleveland, his weight became such a point of concern that the Indians added a clause to his contract that paid him $12,500 each time he weighed 225 pounds or less during weigh-ins.
“I don’t work out, I put out”- John Daly. This short, poignant quote summarizes who golf’s most controversial bad boy really is. He’s a drinking, smoking, love-making machine who also golfs. Outlandish outfits, a cigarette permanently lodged between his fingers, a bulging gut, and bleach blonde hair. That is John Daly, and the world wouldn’t want him any other way.
Thankfully for John, golf isn’t the most physically intensive sport, so the lifestyle he chose (or did it choose him?) works well. According to Daly, one day he was golfing at the L.A. Open and the sluggish pace was so grueling that he “went in the locker room and downed like five beers.”
“It was southern Louisiana cooking, so nothing healthy. No vegetables to speak of, I’ll tell you that,” NFL running back Eddie Lacy told the New York Post regarding his childhood diet. As a Packer, Lacy continuously showed up to camp overweight and out of shape. When he signed with Seattle, his contract included the potential to earn a $385,000 bonus if he showed up to camp under an undisclosed, predetermined weight. At the height of his playing days, Lacy weighed roughly 270 pounds.
Mike McCarthy, Lacy’s old coach in Green Bay, had this to say about the back: “Eddie Lacy, he’s got a lot of work to do. I think I’m stating the obvious. His offseason last year was not good enough, and he never recovered from it…He has to get it done because he cannot play at the weight that he played at this year.”
The Pillsbury Throwboy is everyone’s favorite large quarterback. Also known as the “Hefty Lefty,” Jared Lorenzen was a Kentucky icon, known for his portly appearance and cannon of an arm. A well-above-300-pound fairly immobile quarterback, Lorenzen’s football career was cut short because of injuries, and that early retirement led to a spike in his weight where Lorenzen tipped the scales at 560 pounds.
Since that apex, Lorenzen has documented his journey toward reclaiming his health while inspiring viewers and old fans who fondly remember him tearing up the SEC. As an NFL backup, Lorenzen did win a Super Bowl with the Giants when they defeated the Patriots for a second time.
With Toronto, pitcher David Wells was forced by the Blue Jays’ general manager to weigh in every day and pay a $20 fine if he did not meet the desired weight of 220 pounds or below. That should pretty much summarize Wells and the weight struggles that followed him throughout his career.
It was a constant battle. And Wells also had an intense affinity towards drinking and partying. On the day of his perfect game, Wells admitted he was “half-drunk, with bloodshot eyes, monster breath, and a raging, skull-rattling hangover.” He went to bed at 5 a.m. and had only one hour of sleep prior to pitching one of the best games in baseball history.
When you’re an NFL running back, drinking copious amounts of tequila is probably not in your best interest. LenDale White wasn’t too concerned with that. So White guzzled Patron by the bottle and his already thick frame added a few pounds. He ballooned up to 260 pounds before having a revelation that inspired him to cut out the drinking entirely.
“It wasn’t a lot of major diet changes. (It was) watching what I drink. I was a big Patron consumer. … That’s what it was. I was drinking a lot, drank a lot of alcohol, and I cut that out of my diet all the way. I don’t drink at all,” White recalled. At the NFL combine, one unimpressed scout quipped, “The guy needed a bra, it was ridiculous. You come to the combine looking like that and you want to be a first-round pick? Come on. The guy had obviously been doing nothing.”
Yikes. Benjamin’s weight issues soared to new heights in the 2017 offseason while he was still in Carolina. Benjamin entered training camp looking like an offensive guard rather than a receiver, and the internet showed no mercy with the hail-storm of memes that rained down at Benjamin’s expense.
The impetus for the unforgiving memes came after a video surfaced of an overweight Benjamin (slowly) running routes. Even Booger McFarland, the Monday Night Football announcer who sits in that strange contraption on the sidelines, told America that Benjamin was “one Popeyes biscuit away from being a tight end.” Eventually, Benjamin ate his way out of Buffalo after consuming one too many of the city’s signature wings.
Safe to say that Sebastian Janikowski is the largest kicker in the NFL. He’s a 6-foot-2, 270-pound Polish beast. And yes, he was taken in the first round by the Raiders (17th overall in 2000). At his biggest, Seabass, as he’s known, was 280 pounds, a weight fitting of a defensive lineman.
The rigors of his job, or lack thereof, obviously afford him the luxury of eating and drinking whatever he wants. However, team officials and coaches began to worry that his weight was problematic and encouraged him to shed a few pounds. That, however, concerned Janikowski, who believed the power was in the pounds, and losing too much weight would affect his performance. In classic Janikowski fashion, he ditched the diet before it ever began.
One really has to be out of shape to play in the NHL and make this list. But Phil Kessel, a man of many talents, never ceases to amaze us. Kessel has always been a talented player, but questions regarding his work ethic have hovered over his head like a black cloud.
In Toronto, Kessel had an affinity to frequenting the hot dog stand outside of the Leaf’s arena. Supposedly he spent more time gobbling up dogs than becoming a better player. Eventually, Toronto became fed up with the lazy, out of shape skater and sent him to Pittsburgh where he won two Stanley Cups. To celebrate his second Cup, Kessel loaded up the trophy with hot dogs and took it golfing, eating his favorite snack between holes.
The Purple Drank, as he was known throughout his limited, disappointing tenure in the NFL, is usually considered the greatest bust in NFL history. Yes, Jamarcus Russell was so bad that the Raiders couldn’t even trade him for a can of soda and a bag of chips. Because he ate them.
Drafted with a cannon for an arm, Russell was anything but explosive, and a healthy habit for sipping “purple drank” caused his already questionable work ethic to plummet and his weight to skyrocket. There came a time when the QB weighed a hefty 320 pounds, a weight not so conducive to being mobile in the pocket.
The nadir of Pablo Sandoval’s baseball career was when his belt buckle snapped after a mighty swing. He went from home run rakin’ to belt breakin’ in a matter of seconds, and that moment was the summarily encapsulated Kung Fu Panda’s weight problems.
As a San Francisco Giant, Sandoval’s weight was such a concern that team management had to instruct hotel staff during road games to not deliver room service meals to the Panda’s lair. Naturally, Panda would escape the hotel’s confines and find food elsewhere, but the mere thought of a grown man secretly being blocked from ordering room service is rather pathetic.
They don’t call him Big Baby for nothing. As a child, Davis was banned from Pop Warner for being too big. Before the NBA, Davis struggled to keep his fitness up and his weight down. During LSU’s Final Four game against UCLA, a then 340-pound Davis struggled to run the floor, shot horribly, and fouled out in 30 minutes.
In the NBA, Davis broke a bone in his foot, something he and doctors directly attributed to his frame carrying too many pounds. That injury led to surgeries and his ultimate demise from pro ball. What are your thoughts on where Davis could have been if weight wasn’t a problem? Weigh in below.
You heard it after the Super Bowl when Terrell Owens blasted Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb for being out of shape and unable to run a two-minute drill. Apparently the QB was so gassed that he threw up while attempting to lead the Eagles down the field. That wasn’t the last time we’d hear of his struggles to stay in shape.
With the Redskins, McNabb was pulled late in the game by head coach Mike Shanahan because he wasn’t fit enough to run a two-minute offense. “The cardiovascular endurance that it takes to run a two-minute, going all the way down with no timeouts, calling plays, it’s just not easy,” Shanahan said. “If I thought it was the best situation to do, then Donovan would have run the two-minute offense.” So you’re saying he’s the team’s starter except when it matters most, during the final two minutes of the game?
It was no secret that Lamar Odom had troubles with addiction, weight-gain, and staying healthy. He openly talked about it, as did multiple former head coaches. When he was with the Clippers, head coach Vinny Del Negro said, “There’s no question, I’ve talked to him about it. He’s got to work through some conditioning things and some health things…I wish he was in a little bit better condition.”
When he was with the Mavericks, coach Rick Carlisle was asked about Odom’s fitness. The reply was terse: “He’s got a ways to go.” Health issues for Lamar weren’t confined to the court either. In 2015, Odom was found unconscious in a Nevada brothel after nearly overdosing on cocaine.
He can ski with the best of them, and he can drink with them too. Olympic skier and folk legend Bode Miller went into the 2006 Winter Olympics as the clear favorite. The bold Bode was about to capture gold. But then the bottle got in the way. Despite not medalling and bailing out of multiple events, Miller told reporters that it was “an awesome two weeks. I got to party and socialize at an Olympic level.”
Prior to that uninspiring Olympic performance, Miller told 60 Minutes that he often skied drunk and hungover, and won a Skiing World Cup still drunk from partying the night before. “Talk about a hard challenge right there. … If you ever tried to ski when you’re wasted, it’s not easy,” Miller said. “Try and ski a slalom when … you hit a gate less than every one second, so it’s risky. You’re putting your life at risk. … It’s like driving drunk, only there are no rules about it in ski racing.”
When Curry was drafted 4th overall, expectations were sky high for the big man out of Chicago. After a few solid seasons as a Bull, Curry was shipped to New York where he was slated to be a cornerstone of the franchise. That idea never came to fruition, and Curry’s health became the only part of his dissolving game that helped him stay in the news.
One of his old coaches, Scott Skiles, lambasted the overweight Curry for his inability to jump off the ground. When asked what Curry could do better, Skiles retorted, “Jump.” His next coach, Mike D’Antonio, wasn’t any more forgiving. “He’s going to have to play better than what he has shown me. He is going to have to pick it up. He has got to pick up his training.” Needless to say, Curry’s weight of around 395 pounds was not beneficial and partially ruined a once-promising career.
Bryant “Big Country” Reeves was, per his nickname, a large human being. He towered above others at seven feet tall and weighed anywhere from 300 to 315 pounds. He had smooth touch near the hoop and was a force in the paint, but the weight that Big Country carried wasn’t too forgiving on his back.
And when the Grizzlies migrated from their original den in Vancouver to their new home in Memphis, Big Country’s career virtually ended. He made the trip with the team, but back issues prevented him from stepping on the court in Memphis. Today, he lives a quiet, isolated-from-the-media life back in his home state of Oklahoma.
His time with the Trail Blazers was very rough because he could not keep his weight in check. Former NBA coach Nate McMillan had this to say about Felton’s weight: “I think his weight had a direct impact on how well he played. When you’re not conditioned to play, then you’re going to struggle, you’re going to turn the ball over.”
“If you don’t have your legs, your shot is not going to fall.” And the criticism didn’t stop there. Lakers emerging star Kyle Kuzma made the point guard the butt-end of his joke on Twitter: “Sheesh Ray Felton just looked like a 14-pound bowling ball running on that transition layup.”
Known as the “Big O,” journeyman Oliver Miller essentially ate his way out of the NBA. After being selected in the first round, Miller’s weight problems began to mount, and his production slipped. “When I was playing, everyone was making it a big issue.”
“Always making me weigh in every single day, saying you can’t eat that, why are you eating that,” Miller told Fox News. And the fans. How ruthless they can be. Miller recalls how they would taunt him by offering up cheeseburgers, to which Miller would jokingly tell them to “hold the pickles.” Oh, and the Suns’ mascot, the one in the gorilla suit, even got in on the gag by wearing an overweight gorilla costume with a Miller jersey when Miller returned to Phoenix as a member of the Kings.
In 2005, May was the sparkplug that led UNC to a National Championship victory. But the NBA was much less kind to one of America’s brightest talents. May struggled to stay healthy in the pros and weight issues compounded his problems.
That led to a vicious spiral of May not being healthy, thus not playing, becoming depressed because he wasn’t playing, and then gaining weight. In his four seasons in the NBA (his fifth was spent entirely on injured reserve), May never topped 37 games played in a single season. When he signed with the Kings, his contract stipulated that May would only receive the full $100,000 if he could arrive at the start of the season weighing 265 pounds or less.
CC Sabathia is just a gargantuan pitcher who imposingly towers over batters on the mound. Standing at 6-foot-6 with reported weights ranging from 275-325 pounds, Sabathia has suffered a few injuries over his career because of his bulk. He’s also complained about the Red Sox bunting on him, claiming it’s a cheap tactic that hits him where he’s weak.
To combat his weight CC went vegan, a move that backfired quickly. CC reported to camp looking rather svelte, but his performance dropped, and his fastball fell from the mid-90s to the upper-80s. He blamed his new lighter weight on a lack of balance, which threw of his timing and mechanics. So to counter that, CC scrapped the diet and packed on the pounds again, regaining his power in the process.
“A lot of people when they get depressed, they can go to anger. Some people go to drugs; some people go to alcohol. For me, food was my drug. That was my cure. Anything that’s not good for your body, I was eating it — whatever I could find”- Michael Sweetney, former NBA player and 9th overall pick.
He was in the same draft class as LeBron James, D-Wade, and Melo, but Sweetney never even sniffed the success his contemporaries basked in. In total, Sweetney, who tried to commit suicide as a rookie, played four seasons in the NBA, and despite numerous comeback attempts, never made it back to the league. He did, however, suit up for team City of Gods for The Basketball Tournament (TBT).
Robert “Tractor” Traylor’s life tragically ended in 2011 at the age of 34. He died of a massive heart attack, something that was seemingly bound to happen. Traylor struggled with weight problems, something that began in college and followed him to the NBA.
When he entered the league in 1998 as the sixth overall pick, he weighed well over 300 pounds. And that number meant Traylor would spend more time battling injuries than opponents in the paint. Eventually, Traylor underwent heart surgery, a move he thought would help extend his career. It did the opposite. Post-surgery, Traylor failed a physical with the Nets and never stepped foot on an NBA court again.
Mount Cody was his nickname. It could have been “Mammoth of the Mississippi” thanks to his time spent at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. At the Senior Bowl, Cody was the biggest athlete, and at the combine, he ran one of the slowest 40-yard dashes in history.
As a Raven, Cody started out weighing around 400 pounds, a weight he utilized to plug holes and stop the run. However, coaches encouraged Cody to lose some weight, which inversely affected his performance. “Losing that weight last year,” Cody said, “kind of made me a little weak because I lost it a little too fast.” Classic example of a diet gone wrong.
Alabama produces an absurd amount of NFL talent, but none had the potential to take over offensive lines like Andre Smith. The problem was he was lazy and had a questionable work ethic. At the combine, he left early, unaware that he had to wait for other linemen to finish their drills.
As a pro, he’s suffered season-ending injuries, which hampered his ability to keep his weight in check. “When I’ve been injured, I’ve come back overweight. I’m not the same ‘Dre.” In Arizona, coach Steve Wilks said his biggest surprise of the offseason was Smith showing up to camp in shape.
This man should be arrested for robbery because he stole tons of money from the franchises who overpaid for his sub-par services. He didn’t earn the nickname “Fat Albert” for nothing, either. With Washington, Haynesworth failed multiple team physicals after pulling up gimp in some standard running drills.
He failed another physical because he took a so-called extended bathroom break. Then there’s this, Haynesworth’s comic childhood recollection on weight loss. “All the years of my mom making me run around the house when I was getting too big, waking me up at about 6 o’clock in the morning to get ready for the season, I guess it’s a recouping or something like that.” Yeah, something like that.
Another big man who has stayed relatively healthy and has had a very long, successful career, Kings big man Zach Randolph has battled to keep his weight in check. And nothing hampered the talented vet’s efforts more than being arrested on felony marijuana charges.
The arrest disrupted his workout regimen and helped the already big man pack on a few extra pounds. Randolph has stated that he’s a bit top heavy, but that’s not a valid excuse for being out of shape. “But even though you’re built differently than slim guys like Skal or Willie, that’s no excuse. You’ve got to be in shape.”
Drafted out of USC, Mike Williams had raw talent, but his costly decision to declare for the NFL draft one year too early forced him to sit out an entire year of football. And during that year off, Williams didn’t manage to stay as healthy as he would have liked.
When he returned to football, he was overweight and was a bust right out of the gate. His weight jumped up to 287 pounds, a bit too heavy for a receiver needing to snag jump balls and outrun defenders. When Williams signed with Seattle, reuniting him with his college coach Pete Carroll, the deal was laden with incentives to keep his weight in check. Half a million dollars of incentives actually.
His name may be Prince, but he was a king when it came to eating. Prince was listed at 5-foot-11, 275 pounds, stats matching up more with NFL defensive ends than a first baseman’s. For reference, Washington Redskins defensive end Ryan Kerrigan is 6-foot-4, 260 pounds.
Sadly, the weight negatively impacted Prince’s career and inevitably cut it short. The man who once was a fixture on the diamond, a reliable player who didn’t miss games, began to get injured with increasing frequency and the surgeries piled up. After a second neck surgery, Fielder was forced to hang up the spikes.
Did you feel the ground shake during the 2015 Cotton Bowl? So did everyone else when Baylor tight end LaQuan McGowan, a 6-foot-7, 410-pound behemoth rumbled into the end zone on a trick play. That touchdown brought McGowan into the national spotlight, where the big man looked pretty comfortable.
As a senior, he caught a few more touchdowns and was an All-Big 12 honorable mention. But his weight, and the potential for health problems, scared off NFL teams. If he had been selected and signed, he would have been the largest tight end in NFL history. Today, McGowan is trying to fight his way into the NFL.