NEWARK, N.J. – For the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks the immediate thoughts ahead of Sunday's big game are less about the Super Bowl and more aimed toward bowls of a different variety.
Namely, bowls of kale, spinach, broccoli, egg whites, anti-oxidant berries and a wide variety of other foods targeted toward giving them a gameday edge at MetLife Stadium.
The Broncos and Seahawks are two of the NFL's more nutritionally-conscious teams, with each having a full-time staff of catering experts charged with preparing meals tailored to each player.
"That is what I am focused on right now more than the game," said Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette. "It is actually a good way to distract yourself and stop thinking about the madness of the week. Just take care of my body."
Both team's head coaches – Seattle's Pete Carroll and Denver's John Fox – have both emphasized the importance of healthy eating this week, especially with the chilly climate conditions the teams are likely to face in a frosty New Jersey.
With the economic realities of life as a college student having previously impacted their ability to eat right, for most players, taking care of themselves nutritionally is a habit that began once they entered the professional ranks.
"They have a good cook and they really take care of us," said Broncos defensive tackle Sione Fua. "We get weighed once a week and they take our body fat and they have weight goals for everyone, so you have to be in that range and the nutritionist really helps."
Fua's diet in college often involved trips to Taco Bell, where he would down two Double Deckers and two beef burritos, before heading next door to Happy Donuts and sinking into a pair of apple fritters.
Nowadays, with the Broncos staff willing to prepare to-go meals, he barely has to buy any food at home, just keeping his fridge stocked with snacks such as fruit.
Teammate Sylvester Williams would down double quarter pounder meals – complete with extra-large soft drinks – in college, but now opts for baked chicken with broccoli and salad as part of his routine, while taking down fruit and vegetable smoothies (including kale) between meals.
Carroll has embraced modern science in multiple ways since coming to Seattle, not just with meal plans but by working with a neuroscience monitoring company to improve the players' sleep patterns and help their retention of information.
Things were different back when he was in charge of the University of Southern California.
"When I was with coach Carroll at USC I used to eat at the food truck all the time," said Seahawks linebacker Mike Morgan. "There was a place called Armando's food truck and they had a sandwich named after Mark Sanchez; that was my favorite."
Morgan admitted it makes him chuckle to compare his current and former eating habits, with his menu now consisting of large helpings of spinach and antioxidant berries.
However, different suggestions are prescribed for different players. While linemen are generally encouraged to eat lean food to avoid ballooning in weight, naturally leaner players can sometimes get away with a little bit more.
For Seahawks receiver Jermaine Kearse, his pre-game Super Bowl meal will be at odds with the ultra-healthy regime adopted by most of his teammates.
"What will I eat?" Kearse asked. "A chocolate fudge sundae … on Sunday."
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