Very rarely do NFL players make post-career headlines unless they find themselves in a sticky situation, but former San Diego Chargers lineman Nick Hardwick did just that earlier this year. The longtime center was injured during Week 1 of the 2015 season and immediately began one of the most incredible transitions you will ever see.
The 11-year NFL veteran began losing weight dramatically as a result of a vigorous workout plan and healthy eating, leading to his retirement at age 33. He managed to drop a whopping 85 pounds in a few short months and was hardly recognizable from his playing days:
His weight loss turned many heads and amidst overwhelming positive reactions from former teammates, coaches and others around the league and society, a few folks, including ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser, wondered if any artificial enhancements contributed to his NFL body. It was during an airing of Pardon the Interruption that Kornheiser discussed the possibility that Hardwick used PEDs during his career:
It is eyebrow-raising. It’s a tremendous amount of weight that he has lost in a very short amount of time, and it leads anybody to reasonably conclude that this guy was artificially pumped up like a Perdue chicken. I mean, I understand that they lift a lot of weights in football and they eat a lot of food to maintain their weight, but you have to wonder at some point, with football players and all athletes, if there aren’t performance-enhancing drugs at work here that artificially build them up.
Unsurprisingly, the comments made their way to Hardwick and he addressed them in a fantastic Sports Illustrated MMQB piece from Emily Kaplan this week.
That hurt. I knew what I went through to get to that point. It wasn’t like I was 300 pounds of muscle before. I had fat on me. Not to mention, I got tested quite frequently. I don’t even know how it’s possible for guys to use steroids in the NFL today.
He stopped well short of blasting Kornheiser and appears to have taken the high road but one must believe that the invigorated Hardwick could have unleashed NSFW criticism of epic proportions. Do yourself a favor and read the entire article from Kaplan, as it’s well worth your time.
Photo Courtesy: Sean M. Haffey/UT San Diego