Out Of Shape Athletes

Over the weekend, one of the NFL games piped into my viewing area was the Steelers/Browns debacle. It wasn’t a contest whose outcome was in doubt for very long so I began to focus on watching things other than the ball. I could not help noticing Ted Washington playing as the nose tackle for the Browns. Washington has been in the NFL since 1991; he will turn 40 next year right around the time that the NFL holds its draft; he takes up space and occupies blockers in the middle of the defense because he is huge. They list his weight as 375 lbs; it would not surprise me if he were somewhere just north of four bills. And let me be as gracious as I can here; there’s no way Ted Washington will be a spokesperson for one of those “six-pack abs” exercise machines that fill up infomercial time at 3:00 AM.

That got me to thinking about athletes who compete at a high professional level but who are not exactly in the best of shape. The name from recent sports history that jumped to mind was Gilbert Brown – erstwhile DT for the Packers and prototype for the “nose tackle as immoveable object” – and so I decided to present a list of candidates for The Gilbert Brown Award. And of course, Ted Washington will be one of the nominees – - but there are others…

Staying in the world of professional football, Grady Jackson is also a DT in the NFL and his responsibility is very similar to Ted Washington’s. Jackson probably doesn’t weigh as much as Washington but he is shorter. If he were two inches taller, he’d be spherical. Grady Jackson is a worthy nominee for The Gilbert Brown Award.

Also from the ranks of the NFL, I read a report that Kris Jenkins showed up in training camp this year weighing 384 lbs. Obviously, I wasn’t there to see the needle move on that scale nor did I check the calibration certificate on the instrument; but here’s what I know. When Kris Jenkins was one of the top DTs in the NFL, he was playing at a listed 310 lbs. That’s big. But if he chunked on an extra 74 lbs, he would be in a position to win Costume Party prizes at Halloween for “most original costume” All he’d have to do is throw a sheet over his head and show up. No, he would not be dressed as a ghost; he’d be dressed as Alaska. Kris Jenkins is nominated for The Gilbert Brown Award.

I could probably fill up my nomination list by staying in the NFL and going from team to team picking out defensive tackles or offensive guards and so to make this a more catholic list within the sporting cosmos; I’ll stop there and look at other sports. And of course, the name, John Daly, leaps to mind. Daly is nowhere near 350 lbs to be sure, but in terms of being out of shape as an athlete, I think it’s rather clear he resembles that remark. Add to his physical conditioning the fact that he smokes while competing and has been known to quaff his share of adult beverages and he becomes more than worthy for inclusion on this list of out of shape athletes.

In the world of baseball, Dmitri Young is an amazing specimen. He’s been among the leading hitters in the National League for much of this season; but to look at him, you have to wonder how he can get his bat around to hit the ball. After all, there is a lot of angular momentum that has to be applied to his torso just to begin to get it to twist. And he won’t be getting a lot of infield hits unless the opposing infielders have the defensive skills of the Easter Island statues. Dmitri Young could be the Comeback Player of the Year in the NL; he might also acquire The Gilbert Brown Award. Now there’s an exacta for you.

In baseball, pitchers tend to be more out of shape than position players and the poster child for out of shape pitchers would have to be David Wells. If Wells got even slightly larger in the “posterior region”, teams would have to forego use of the centerfield camera when he was pitching. No one would be able to see the catcher. According to his player profile, he weighs 250 lbs; if you believe that, I would really like to play high stakes poker with you. Did I hear a second for David Wells’ nomination here? Thank you very much…

Another worthy contender from the ranks of MLB pitchers has to be Antonio Alfonseca. This man puts his pants on one tent at a time; and when he goes clothes shopping, he heads for the section of the store where the sizes are Humongous and Jumbo. It would be an interesting experiment to put Alfonseca and Wells on a seesaw just to see which one would wind up in the air and which would be on the ground. I wonder if the town where Alfonseca lives has a local ordinance against him jogging every morning just to control potholes in the town. Add him to the list of nominees here.

The NBA used to have lots of fat guys but the game has changed to the point where there aren’t many left. John “Hot Plate” Williams and Laedell Eckles and Oliver Miller and Kevin Duckworth would have been nominees for The Gilbert Brown Award in years before Gilbert Brown even burst onto the sporting scene. But nowadays there are only a very few folks like that. There are times when Shaquille O’Neal looks as if he’s ready to make seismic instruments register each of his footfalls up and down the court. I don’t think Shaq is seriously out of condition but if I had to put an NBA player of note on this list of nominees, it would be him.

Lots – and I mean lots – of heavyweight boxers are just big plodding men who spend as much time leaning on their opponents as they do pummeling them. But the state of boxing is such that many sports fans cannot conjure up an image of many boxers these days just by mentioning the name. Except for “Butterbean”. When he was fighting more frequently – maybe 15 years ago – he was in the 400 lb range and would not sign for bouts longer than four rounds. He continues to participate in boxing matches and in the world of kickboxing/mixed martial arts. The image of Butterbean attempting a spinning heel kick to the head of an opponent makes me think of the International Space Station when it totally loses gyroscopic control. Butterbean is on the list…

I will not venture into the world of professional wrestling for nominees here. The most significant reason for this is that I don’t know enough of the currently active rasslers to make any logical choices here and I have absolutely no interest in delving into that sub-culture to learn enough to offer nominees here. But I’m sure there is a rassler out there named “Big Daddy So-and-So” or “Mount Kilimanjaro” or something like that. Maybe that guy belongs on this list – or maybe professional wrestling just needs its own award for this kind of person; they could call it The Haystacks Calhoun Award.

That’s my list. Any other nominations from the floor before we commence the voting process?

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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