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Posted on Tue. Jan. 28, 2014 - 12:01 am EDT

NFL players taste success off field with food ventures

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Sure, the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos are hungry for a Super Bowl win. But sometimes they're hungry for other things, like pizza and Skittles. And apparently a whole lot of eggs.

The food-football connection is a strong one, whether you're munching in the stands, tailgating, or wading into the chips and dip at home. But while everyone is familiar with the classic foods associated with watching the big game, some of the foodie connections with the players on the field are less obvious.

Unflappable Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is a player in possession of poise — and pies. He owns several Papa John's pizza stores in the Denver area. And the Seahawks have a few food traditions of their own, including throwing Skittles candy on the field when running back Marshawn Lynch makes a big touchdown run. According to the team website, the athlete has been a fan of the chewy candies since his mother used to give them to him as “power pellets” when he was a kid playing sports, and his affinity for the rainbow-colored candy has not abated.

When it comes to regular meals, eating like an NFL player isn't the steak, steak and a side of steak kind of diet you might expect.

Food & Wine magazine restaurant editor Kate Krader researched NFL diets and found quite a few players who have gone vegan for a time and still rarely eat meat, including Houston Texans running back Arian Foster, Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez, who announced his retirement in December, and Detroit Lions running back Montell Owens.

That was a surprise. “I feel even though just about everybody eats more thoughtfully now, I associate NFL players with a paleo diet, all protein, eat like a vampire, basically.” Some players got flack for shunning meat from critics who thought it would make them slower or weaker, but they were undaunted. “They were like, 'Nope, watch me go,'” says Krader.

Looking at the Super Bowl matchup Krader notes a recent Seattle Times article that describes food served at the Seattle practice facility in Renton, Wash. Everything fresh, only organic and premium meat, and no deep-fried food; even the french fries are baked. And here's an interesting stat: Team chef Mac McNabb goes through 60 dozen eggs a week.

And then there's the business side of things. Manning and a number of other current and former stars are carving out second careers in the dining scene.

Former Broncos quarterback John Elway is co-founder of three steak houses all named, logically enough, Elway's.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees has opened outlets of the Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwich franchise in New Orleans.

In the mood for something sweet? Former New England Patriots linebacker Rosevelt Colvin and his wife, Tiffany, are the owners of a cupcake shop called Sweeties in Indianapolis.

Or you could just go to a Seahawks game in hopes of scoring some Skittles.


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