WE WATCHED LAST SUMMER’S Olympics with envy and marveled at the finely tuned bodies in the pool, on the track and dancing along the balance beam. And as we looked on, the light bulb brightened. Championship athletes, boys, for example-could teach us all a thing or two about proper nutrition, right?
Take Emmitt Smith, the turbo-charged Cowboys running back. Aside from his traditional breakfast of Fruity Pebbles, anything goes. “I’m a junk food junkie,” Smith says, pictured above with one of his favorite foods: a piece of pecan pie.
And Herschel Walker may say his diet consists only of salads, vegetables, fish and steamed rice, but he was captured on film by a local TV news crew during training camp a few summers back, walking out of a fast-food restaurant with a large bag of burgers and fries.
So he’s just the kind of guy Jay Khorrami, owner-manager of the Coppell Deli, a favorite lunch-time hangout tor many Cowboys players, is looking for. Six years ago, when the team was struggling through its infamous 1-15 season, Khorrami approached Dallas offensive lineman Nate Newton, who at the time lived across the street from him, and invited him to visit the deli. “I told him I’d fix him something that would cheer him up,” Khorrami recalls,
What resulted was the creation of a sandwich that to this day is the top-seller on the deli’s menu, a behemoth now named in honor of former Cowboys tight end Daniel Stubbs, who found it to be such a perfect meal that he ate one or more daily during his tenure in Dallas. “The Stubbs,” as the sandwich is called, includes eggs, sausage, bacon and cheese, and is served between two thick slices of buttered Texas toast. Cooper Clinic dietitians estimate one Stubbs packs 1,553 calories and 110 grams of fat.
For Newton, who has an ongoing love affair with food, the subject is no longer the joking matter it once was. Since joining the team 11 years ago, Kewton has fought an annual-and usually unsuccessful-battle to reach his ideal playing weight of 320 pounds. Helped by infusions of beer and junk food during the off-season, Newton’s weight would skyrocket to near 400 pounds, making it necessary to endure a kamikaze-like crash diet in the weeks before training camp. Newton admits that french fries are still his favorite food, but he’s finally beginning to demonstrate some moderation.
Before each new season, Nate spends six weeks in Orlando, Fla., under the watchful eye of a sports trainer, living the Spartan life of a heavyweight boxer training for a championship bout. He maintains a strict diet of vegetables and poultry, bicycles 50 miles or more daily, lifts weights, runs hills and endlessly climbs mechanical stairs.
Today, Newton, outspoken and generally jovial, dismisses any media query about his weight or eating habits. It has apparently become a touchy subject–and an indication, friends and teammates say, of a new concern for nutrition spreading through the team.
Which is to say there are signs that progress has been made since the team’s first championship era. The Tom Landry Dallas Cowboys weren’t exactly shy about calorie intake. Defensive linemen Harvey Martin and Randy White, who shared Most Valuable Player honors in Super Bowl XII, are cases in point.
Martin, a superstitious sort, had a little-known game-day routine of gulping down two stadium hot dogs just before getting into uniform. One off-season, with a wired broken jaw eliminating the intake of solid food, Martin solved the problem with a blender in which he pureed take-out pizza, burgers and, of course, hot dogs.
Before each road game, White, now a member of the NFL Hall of Fame, would pick up teammate Burton Lawless and stop by The Point After for a couple of its famed monster-meal burgers. They’d eat them en route to the team charter. This, of course, while knowing full well that an elaborate inflight meal awaited.
The most fabled food fight in Cowboys history came during one training camp in Thousand Oaks, Calif., years ago. Quarterback Roger Staubach, the closest thing to a health fanatic on the team at the time, kept a bowl of mixed nuts in his dorm room to snack on when the urge for muncbies would strike.
Regularly, center Tom Rafferty would stop by to relax and chat in the evenings after practices and team meetings had concluded for the day. During the course of his stay he would nibble away at Staubach’s cache of nuts until the bowl was empty.
In an attempt to break Rafferty of the habit, Staubach devised a plan, secretly mixing dry dog food with the nuts. Rafferty continued to munch away. Staubach added more dog food. In time the bowl actually contained more Purina Chow than nuts. Didn’t even slow Rafferty’s intake.
Finally, on one steamy California afternoon, as the offense huddled during a scrimmage, Rafferty said he wasn’t feeling too well. Staubach smiled and let the cat out of the bag: “Maybe,” the famed quarterback said, “we should get you to the vet.”
You’re lucky. North Texas offers a bounty of delicious, healthy food, everything from plump tomatoes to sweet basil to chickens that actually taste like chicken. Here’s how to take advantage of where you live.
By D Magazine