"Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are"-Anthelme Brilllat-Savarin 


Indeed, how could this have happened?  The man was only 23 years old and he was a professional athlete.  Heat was ruled out because the temperature in Denver was only 65 degrees.  It would be hard to blame exhaustion for his expiration because Herrion only played the final series of downs.  Even an autopsy could not determine the cause of death.  An answer should come in the following weeks, but there is a possibility that we will never know what caused Herrion's untimely death.

National Football League executives are pulling their hair out by the roots today.  A rash of deaths and health complications as of late may bring the microscope down on their Teflon organization.  Three seasons ago Korey Stringer died of heat exhaustion and Ephedrine usage.  Hall of Famer Reggie White died last season of sleep apnea.  Teddy Bruschi suffered a stroke this summer at the age of 34.  Not exactly the type of publicity that a professional athletic organization looks for now is it?

In my opinion the NFL is praying that Herrion had drugs in his system.  Maybe that could have been the culprit?  Or possibly it was a congenial issue?  Oh God, please let that be it!  We can't have any unnecessary bad publicity this close to the regular season opener.  Sweet Jesus, people may think that we have gone too far in our quest for size.

Indeed, the NFL has gone too far, but they are not alone.  Americans are eating themselves to death, devouring everything in sight like a horde of starving Gremlins after midnight.  But to address the obesity issue is not easy and it's not something that everyone wants to hear about.  To broach the topic of obesity is to question our very way of life.  It makes people uncomfortable.  It may even make you contemplate doing something you haven't done since high school; EXERCISE.

According to a study form the University of North Carolina, 56% of NFL players fall into the obese 1 category (criteria are a 6 foot tall man weighing between 220-260 pounds).  But more alarming than that was the 30% of NFL players landing in the obese class 2 and 3 category.  Although the BMI doesn't take muscle mass into account any fool can figure out that most of these guys are lard asses.  Not one of them resembles Arnold Schwarzenegger, except maybe that wild ass Terrell Owens.  I remember joking to my friend that ex-Packer Gilbert Brown reminded me of my uncle's portly cat because when he hunkered down into a 3 point stance his gut practically rubbed the ground.  And have you seen defensive lineman Ted Washington?  That man's head is as big as my computer screen.  I guess that's why he's so effective, all he has to do is put that mammoth size 20 head in there and he can plug almost any gap to run through.

What?  I got off track?  Well excuse the hell out of me, you impatient bastard.  Maybe obese players are why the NFL is such a ratings juggernaut.  The average American can relate to them better than they can a svelte NBA player.  According to the American Obesity Association over 65% of ALL Americans are considered obese (25 lbs. over their suggested Body Mass Index).  If you are keeping score at home that would tally over 127 million adults that are reaching blimp-like proportions.

But the adults will have plenty of company, just step inside any school and you will see that these numbers will skyrocket over the next 20 years.  These young behemoths are twice the size that I remember from my school daze.  According to the same study, the AOA found that over 15% of children ages 6-18 are considered obese.  A former professor of mine joked that every time she told her 2 year old it was time for dinner the little tyke went to get her jacket.  Many of my classmates snickered at this, but needlessly to say I was not amused.  

Another peculiar statistic is that over 50% of the obese citizens in this country have only a high school degree or less.  My advisors always said that the more education you had the more money that you would make.  So I surmised that if you had less money then you would be thinner because you couldn't afford food.  WRONG!  American companies make the bad food cheaper and easier to acquire.  Case in point; I went to Fresh Market and bought a small container of Cantaloupe for $3.99, that same $3.99 would purchase an entire combo meal from McDonalds.  The general population can accept paying $3.99 for a hamburger, but not fruit.  Is this pricing of healthy food done on purpose?  Maybe we could ask Lynn Swann?  Oh, scratch that, he just stepped down as chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness. 

When you look at the side effects of obesity it is amazing that everyone doesn't look like Iggy Pop.  Surge over the 30 lb. benchmark for obesity and you could win one of the following prizes:  Diabetes, Arthritis, Cancer, Heart Disease, Impotence, Carpal Tunnel, Sleep Apnea, Deep Vein Thrombosis, End Stage Renal Disease, Gallbladder Disease, Gout, Hypertension, Liver Disease, Respiratory Disease, Obstetric and Gynecologic Complications, Pancriatis, Stroke, and a host of psychological conditions.  No wonder Gandhi seemed so serene when he was fasting. 

You would think that with all of these terrible side effects that the nation would be outraged, sickened, or terrified.  Not really.  I don't watch the news everyday, but I have yet to hear about John McCain calling any fast food executives up to Capitol Hill for a little Q & A.  I guess John and his goons had their hands full badgering Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Rafael Palmiero about steroids.  Steroids can be harmful if used wrong, but overeating is guaranteed to kill you if you do enough of it. 

Please excuse my garbled train of thought; I have just finished a Red Bull and a Kit Kat.  Sadly you will never hear a spirited debate about obesity.  To do so brings up the issues of both parents working, leading to more fast food consumption.  Cutting down on fast food hurts the economy and the stock market, and by God we cannot have anything else hurting our stock portfolio.  People will be afraid to admit that they overeat because they are depressed because their quality of life is lower than their parents.  There are just too many wounds that can be opened by posing these kinds of poignant questions.

And now we morn the death of Thomas Herrion.  Don't feel excessively bad about it.  Being an offensive lineman in the NFL requires you to be morbidly obese; it's a job hazard like driving to work.  You know that it "could" happen, but it probably won't happen to "you".  Herrion had no choice, he had to either maintain his sizeable bulk or start looking for work at Wal-Mart.  He didn't have a choice, but the rest of us do.  Thomas Herrion is dead now and chances are you were doing what I was doing when you heard about his death: EATING