Giants legend Bart Oates hopes to have ex-NFL players reclaim their health.
Bart Oates says it is time for NFL retirees – and football fans, too – to put down the TV remote and pick up the dumbbells.
The former Giants lineman is one of the founders of the NFL Alumni’s Optimal Bowl and Wellness Challenge, a 60-day competition between two teams of former football players and military veterans to fight flab and get into shape.
“Recent media reports have portrayed players as helpless victims,” says Oates, referring to press coverage of retirees debilitated by concussions and other long-term injuries. “This program is pushing guys to take responsibility for their own wellness.
“We’re not talking about bodybuilding or lifting weights like you did in your 20s when you played ball,” adds Oates, the president of the NFL Alumni’s New York/New Jersey chapter. “This is about optimizing your health in your 50s and 60s.”
Oates will join several other former Giants – Harry Carson, Ottis Anderson and Karl Nelson – in kicking off the competition by ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Friday afternoon. They will be joined by ex-Jet Bruce Harper and former Navy SEAL John Gilliam.
The fitness competition will be featured in a web TV documentary series that will begin later this month. Money generated via corporate sponsorship and public donations will be donated to several youth charities, including the PAST Youth Sports Education Program and the TD Foundation.
Gene Kappock/New YOrk Daily News
Bart Oates (pictured) will join Harry Carson, Ottis Anderson and Karl Nelson in ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange Friday afternoon.
George Shapiro, a cardiologist and age-management physician who is the contest’s medical director, said many of the NFL retirees he has worked with suffer from obesity, low hormone levels, diabetes and a variety of other ailments.
Anderson, Super Bowl XXV’s Most Valuable Player, says he hopes to shed the unwanted pounds he has put on thanks to an addiction to fried chicken. “This is a good opportunity to change my eating habits and the way I’m doing things,” he says. “I was once a pretty decent athlete, but I took a slide.”
Jennifer Smith, the director of player programs for PAST – a New Jersey medical group that provides health care to NFL retirees – says she has no doubts that Anderson’s competitive juices will start flowing once the competition and the trash-talk begins.
“Any time you challenge athletes egos, it motivates them,” she says.
Anderson says he’s already motivated – especially since fellow Wellness Challenge competitor Mark Moseley, a former NFL place kicker who owns several fast-food franchises, has vowed to sabotage the ex-running back.
“He says I can eat free any time I want, but I’m in it to win it,” Anderson says.