Aside from sumo wrestling – the lineman position in American football encourages one to be unnaturally heavy like nothing else. Perpetually underappreciated, a lineman is not “in it” for the notoriety (and certainly not landing the cheer captain), but rather for the love of the game. He has immense pride and is a firm believer that the game is won and lost in the trenches where he battles. Consistent with his selflessness on the field, a lineman makes considerable, often unrecognized, sacrifices of his short and long-term health. Although living everyday like you are Joey Chestnut can bring you immense pleasure, it wreaks havoc on the body and establishes habits that are menacingly difficult to unwind.
The story of most linemen typically goes something like this: Growing up, you are told you are just “big-boned”, although you’ve likely ordered off the adult menu since you were seven years old. In Pop Warner, you’re “stuck” on the line because you have thick ankles, can not catch or throw, and likely have an asthma attack once per practice. You find your place in high school and beyond, though, by establishing yourself as an alpha of the cafeteria, as well as the weight room. However, the music eventually stops and your final game is played. Your gargantuan gut and nagging joint pain have lost their purpose – now just hindrances to your life. Your identity feels altered and doubt and uncertainty surfaces. What now?
Alas, you’ve trained for this. The new challenges are merely opportunities to exercise your strong will and work ethic. Honestly – how many 300lb folks can run 40-yard dashes like you?
Navigating “Life After the Line” (this is like the cool part in a movie where they mention the name of the movie) starts with understanding where you are now and what you hope to achieve. Once your aims are established, you just have to get moving in the right direction. Slow and steady wins this race. Consistency and sustainability are paramount and rewarded – over time the inconceivable will become achievable. With the proper know-how and discipline, your body and mind will get where you want them to go.
The essays and content that follow will attempt to contextualize the experiences of a lineman and his “Life After the Line”. There are countless success stories in which linemen have constructed healthier and more functional minds, bodies, and habits after their playing days. We hope to distill, expose, and teach the best practices for navigating one’s “Life After the Line”.