NFL teams supposedly are wary of Colin Kaepernick’s political views. Or that fans will be outraged if they sign him. Or that he’ll be a locker-room distraction. Or are wondering if he still is a viable NFL quarterback, even though he put up okay numbers on a truly dreadful 49ers team last season.
And now we can add another alleged worry to the list, this one perhaps sillier than the rest.
At season’s end, Colin Kaepernick stated he was fully committed to football. But some teams are unconvinced and wonder about his vegan diet.
— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoNBCS) March 31, 2017
Coming off three offseason surgeries, Kaepernick’s frail-seeming physical appearance was a shock to some entering the 2016 season, and some attributed that to his diet. But he had what seemed to be a solid plan for bulking up.
“Eat food,” Kaepernick said last September, “and a lot of it.”
Bulking up without protein-rich meats and other animal products might be difficult, but it’s been done before by much larger men than Kaepernick. In 2014, 6-foot-5, 300-pound defensive lineman David Carter went vegan after years of suffering from high blood pressure, nerve damage and tendinitis. He lost 40 pounds over the first month but, more importantly, those ailments disappeared after dropping animal products from his diet, Carter told NFL.com in September, and he still got lots of protein from beans, peas and peanuts.
The most difficult thing to overcome was the stigma associated with such healthy eating in a league where meat is a diet mainstay.
“Socially, it kind of isolates you,” said Carter, who is now retired and travels the country advocating for veganism. “Football is a machismo sport, which is great, but everything can’t be machismo. On the field and at practice, yes, you can be machismo, but when it comes to diet, you need to have compassion for your body.”
A more apt comparison to Kaepernick is Griff Whalen, a 6-1, 185-pound vegan wideout and kick returner who spent last season with the Chargers and Patriots (he’s currently a free agent). He said that his teammates have been more curious than anything else.
“They see my plate and it kind of triggers a thought,” Whalen told NFL.com in the article linked above. “They’ll ask questions about it. I would suggest to anybody, but I don’t go out of my way to do it, especially with an NFL team. They have a special nutritionist. That’s not my job.”
This is all to say that NFL players probably can be vegans and still get the job done. Besides, no one seems to be giving Tom Brady much grief, and his weirdo diet makes veganism seem like a trip to Sizzler. Hmmm, peculiar.