At his heaviest, Nate Newton weighed 401 pounds. He was so big during his playing days that he forced the Dallas Cowboys equipment manager to rearrange his entire ordering system (and earned the nickname "The Kitchen" because of it). He used to joke about his size, saying that when he retired from the NFL he was going to get into the weight-gaining business because "I know all the wrong things to do."
He stayed big after retiring and through his 32-month stint in prison and it eventually got to the point where Newton, 48, stopped joking about his size and became fearful of it instead. When he came to the realization that his obesity might not let him live long enough to see his youngest son graduate from high school, he decided to do something about.
The Dallas Morning news reports that in February, Newton underwent a new surgery called "vertical gastrectomy," an operation which removes up to 75 percent of the patient's stomach and staples the remaining portion. Today, he weighs 220 pounds. It's the thinnest he's been since eighth grade.
The vertical gastrectomy operation is usually reserved for people who are too heavy to undergo other forms of weight-loss surgery. At this point, it's an uncommon procedure because few doctors perform it and most insurance companies regard it as experimental. Newton's doctor insists it's safe, but the extreme weight loss the former NFL star has experienced isn't normal.
Newton has resumed working out and is training like he did in the old days, sometimes going for as long as two hours per day. He eventually hopes to get down to 196 pounds, which would be 200 less than when he started.
Even at 220, he looks like a new man. Deion Sanders, who recently had coffee with Newton, said he could hardly believe his eyes when he saw his old teammate.
"I'm happy for him because I know I'm going to have him for another 70, 80 years," Sanders said. (That's an optimistic life expectancy expectation from Deion; in 80 years, Newton would be 128 years old.)
Newton says there is one downside to his svelte, new frame though.
"I don't get discounts anymore because nobody recognizes me until they see my credit card," he told the Dallas Morning News.
It's a small price to pay for a big lifestyle change.