(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)


After being released by the Saints last September, Jordan Black thought he was done with football. He prepared for his next adventure, spending time with his family and opening up a few gym franchises in Houston.

But first on his to-do list was to lose some weight. 

“Once you’re done playing football, you have to decide what your identity is,” the offensive lineman told me. “I had to really create a new identity for myself. I mean, there’s no point in being a 310-pound civilian.”

Black used an armband made by BodyMedia to keep track of his food intake, calories burned and sleep patterns, and lost 55 pounds.

“Overall, the way your body feels is better,” he said. “Being 310, every joint in your body, you can feel it at the end of the day. It was a whole new me. I didn’t have the back pain or the knee pain when I woke up in the morning.”

But then, Black got a surprising call from the Redskins, with an opportunity to play football again. After disclosing his weight loss to the team, he began the process of putting the weight back on. He decided that, instead of loading up on pizza, donuts, and other fun-to-eat, high-fat foods, he was going to be healthy about it. 

“It wasn’t fun,” he said. “I just figured that during camp I was probably going to burn about 5,000 calories a day, so I needed to make sure I ate close to 7,000. I know that 3,500 calories is about a pound, so eating an extra 1,500 to 2,000 calories a day will put the weight on pretty quick. It’s not easy, though.”

Black drank up to eight protein shakes a day and ate a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to try to get close to his listed weight of 305 pounds. But putting back on the 50 pounds he struggled to lose almost took an emotional toll on him.

“If I wouldn’t have made the team, it would have been hard,” he admitted. “But there’s no issue at all, because making the team is well worth it. I feel good where I am, and I can play at this weight.”