Last year, Nike had one of the most successful years for the company in its history. Nike made $9.7 billion in profit and helped change the game in sports. The company’s flagship brand, Nike, brought in $23.5 billion in revenue. The company also has a huge presence in the sports industry, beyond Nike, even. For example, the company also owns Converse, a brand known for its ubiquitous Chuck Taylor All Star shoe. This year, Nike will launch a new campaign to promote the ongoing NFL season. The campaign will be called “NFL Street.” It will focus on the Nike brand values, training and innovation.
The National Football League (NFL) has the largest, most devoted fan base in all of professional sports. The league has a $5.6 billion annual revenue, $1.6 billion in annual profit, and is the only major American professional league that is not publicly-owned. The NFL’s popularity is so great, that the league divided into two conferences, the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). Each conference has 4-6 teams, and each team has two divisions (East and West). Each team plays 16 games within their conference and 8 games against every team in the other conference, for a total regular season of 18 games (plus playoffs). Over the course of a year, the NFL has
For the past 20+ years, Nike NFL Pro Training Camps have allowed teams to test NFL-ready athletes, many of whom are second- and third-year players. This year’s camp was no different. It was held at the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, and took place from July 14-17. Nike and focused on two major areas throughout training camp: the ability to run and catch the ball, in addition to the mental aspect of playing the game and all three phases of special teams (punt, kick, and return).
Nike approached me in March and asked for my assistance in planning the meals for their forthcoming NFL Pro Training Camp. We created an amazing meal for the occasion in collaboration with their culinary staff. Then they flew us to Nike World Headquarters to work one-on-one with the athletes. The following is the account of our journey.
Greg is his name, and he is an NFL player.
I’m fairly sure that’s all I know.
“Do you think I should hire a personal chef?” he inquires. “With my wife and children at home, we might use some assistance in getting ready for next season.”
At The Nines, a premium hotel in Portland, Oregon, John Berardi and I are seated at a long table in a magnificent private dining room.
A dozen Nike-sponsored NFL players and trainers eat, joke, and play with their iPhones and Blackberries around the table.
A table containing glass bottles of Voss water, loose leaf tea, and gourmet coffee sits on one side of the room. A table lined with PN-designed meals, including filet mignon, wild salmon, roasted chicken, raw mixed nuts, and any kind of vegetable you can dream of, can be found against the other wall.
Everything was freshly made by a chef wearing a large white hat and served on silver platters by waiters. To put it another way, this isn’t an Olive Garden salad bar.
JB grins at Greg as he looks up from his meal of vegetables and meat. “I believe that’s a fantastic concept. He adds, “We’ll assist you with recipes and offer you some pointers on what to look for.”
We arrived a few hours early, thanks to our private chauffeur, Darryl, who met us at the airport in a jet-black Lincoln Town Car. We were greeted with a bag of Nike shoes, tees, and shorts on our bed when we arrived at the hotel and checked in.
That’s a good start.
We’re here because Nike has engaged us to plan and create all of the meals for their Nike NFL Pro Training Camp. They requested us to coach their athletes and answer nutrition concerns for a few days.
I return to the dining room and scan the table for each of the men. Everyone is a well-paid, high-powered machine. They all know how to take care of business in the gym and on the field.
However, many are unaware of how to properly feed their bodies. At least not yet.
To be clear, improved nutrition is not required to play in the NFL. They’re already here, after all. They’ve been doing well on whatever they’ve been eating for years, as shown by their salaries and ESPN highlights.
Even yet, there are a few things they don’t know about food that will come in handy when the cameras are turned off and they aren’t surrounded by thousands of shouting fans.
They don’t yet understand how eating may help them sleep better or heal quicker after an accident. They have no idea how to use nutrition to build muscle in the off-season, lose fat before their first practice, or maintain their weight throughout the season.
They don’t even know how to ask such questions. And we’re here to respond.
But there will be time for that kind of discussion later. For the time being, JB and Greg are discussing kids – Greg and his wife just had their third child, while JB’s daughter is just over a year old.
They’re telling each other tales on how to get the kids to sleep through the night. (And JB catches Greg off guard with some tricks he hadn’t seen before.)
It’s strange. We’ve been here for a few hours, around some of the greatest football players on the planet, yet we haven’t yet discussed football. Not even once.
Another hour has gone by. We finish our meal and bid each other good night. Our first day on the Nike campus is tomorrow, and we need to get some rest.
But before I go to bed, I need to double-check something. I don’t know who most of these players are since I’m not a big football fan. They’re simply normal people who happen to play football, in my opinion.
I open my laptop and Google “Greg Jennings.” I view the first video that appears on the screen.
I see an enormous stadium. Thousands of people screamed. And there’s Greg, the Green Bay Packers’ number 85, who we were just having dinner with 20 minutes ago, receiving a Super Bowl touchdown pass.
During one of the two-a-day training sessions, Greg is putting in a lot of effort.
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The first morning on the Nike bus.
JB and I are in an elevator with a few of NFL players and a few individuals who do not play in the NFL around 8 a.m. Slinking to the rear of the elevator, an elderly guy and his wife. With her arms, a woman in high heels and huge hair cradles a little yapping puppy.
A large black tour bus sits in front of the main entrance doors, idling. A man dressed in a suit stands military-style close to the bus’s stairwell. We climb in and take in the surroundings: hardwood flooring, leather sofas on both sides, two satellite TVs, and a mini-fridge stocked with water and Gatorade.
The Nike facility in Beaverton is just a 20-minute drive from downtown Portland. Some men sleep with the hoods of their sweatshirts pulled over their heads. Others fidget with their iPads or the television.
Steven Jackson, on the other hand, sees an opportunity.
Steven, a 6’2” 240-pound running back with the St Louis Rams, pulls a folded white piece of paper from his front pocket and sits next to JB. He’s a colossal figure.
He says, “Hey Doc.” “Could you talk to me about my diet?”
JB picks up the piece of paper and examines it.
After a minute, JB says, “How carefully are you following this?”
Steven adds, “It’s hit or miss.” “Some of it is difficult.”
JB gives the paper to me. It’s recommended that he take 50 BCAA tablets during his exercise and two pounds of buffalo meat afterward, according to whomever developed it (Steven never stated who assisted him). In addition to that.
“This is very complicated,” JB admits. “When I deliver my presentation later this week, I’ll break it down into really basic and easy-to-follow recommendations you may use,” says the speaker. Don’t be concerned about that for the time being. Just relax and enjoy the meal we’ve prepared for you.”
Steven relaxes and closes his eyes, satisfied. He adds, “Man, that’s fantastic news.” “I have no idea where to buy buffalo.”
Instead of buffalo meat, try PN-style post-workout Super Shakes.
The Nike campus, as well as the personalized locker room.
The Nike Campus resembles a bustling metropolis. More than 2 million square feet (approximately 35 football fields) are covered by 17 structures. The landscape is really stunning. The practice fields are in excellent condition. Famous athlete banners sway softly in the wind. There’s even a 6-acre lake smack dab in the center of it all.
JB and I go on a walk down the sidewalk and get lost trying to figure out where we are. Green and black skulls stare at us from every direction. This is the new Nike NFL Pro logo, which is emblazoned on every window and glass door.
We locate the Michael Jordan building after a short tour of the Nike kitchen and a chat with the head chef, who did a fantastic job putting together a week’s worth of PN-approved meals. A large decal covering the double-door entryway greets us with a massive skull.
When we enter, we are greeted with a line of all-black mannequins dressed in the most cutting-edge high-tech football outfits, which are prototypes of the uniforms Nike is developing for the 2012 NFL season.
A set of rooms have been curtained off for seclusion to our left. Inside, world-class coaches like Alwyn Cosgrove and former Ukrainian decathlete Val Nasedkin put the NFL players through a series of mobility screens and CNS preparation tests.
A 52-inch interactive TV screen at the rear monitors visual acuity, response speed, and peripheral vision.
The dressing room opens out to our right. Four big-screen TVs with Playstations and plush sofas are available. Wood grain lockers line the wall, with the athletes’ last names painted above each one.
Ndamukong Suh, a defensive lineman for the Detroit Lions, relaxes on the room’s central circular leather sofa.
This will be our base of operations for the next several days.
JB and I settle down for the day, following the athletes from the field to the gym to the yoga studio, addressing nutrition concerns, exchanging tales, and enjoying wonderful PN-designed gourmet meals in between.
This is how you can tell whether you’ve arrived at the correct location.
Putting what we teach into practice, as well as post-workout snacks
The second day was spent at Nike. JB and I take advantage of the chance to train while the athletes are out on the field working on sprint drills and running routes. (We may be here to assist great athletes, but we’re also employees of a business that believes in what it preaches.)
We discovered that the Bo Jackson weight room had just been renovated to suit this camp in particular. They just replaced the old equipment with custom-made power racks, deadlift platforms, dumbbells, and TRXs last week.
The weight room has gone from badass to badass.
Weighted chin-ups, dumbbell bench presses, TRX rows, military presses, and a strong ab circuit make up a fast, on-the-fly upper body circuit that JB and I create up.
During our breaks, we watch the men on the field below do sprints.
We go outdoors after our exercise, just as the men are completing their drills. A pair of Nike workers appear on cue, bringing big ice trays. Big cups of PN-inspired Super Shakes are lined up in precisely straight rows.
Aaron Curry, a linebacker with the Seattle Seahawks, wonders aloud, “What do the colors mean?” The blue and red flags in front of the rows of protein drinks are what he’s referring about.
The shakes with blue flags, according to JB, are lower in carbs and are for men who want to shed a little weight. The red smoothies, he claims, include more carbohydrates and are for men who want to bulk up.
It’s nice and simple, exactly the way it should be. There aren’t two pounds of buffalo meat in this place.
The sportsmen take a break from their training and relax on the grass. Someone exclaims, “Damn, they are delicious!”
JB and I take a drink of ours while admiring the early afternoon light.
Bo Jackson’s weight room, which was specially built for the NFL Pro Training Camp.
No one anticipated the nutrition discussion.
It’s Day 3 in the locker room, and it’s time for lunch. JB is standing in front of a table piled high with high-quality food, observing as the athletes construct their plates, some selecting from the “blue” options and some from the “red.”
He starts once everyone has calmed down.
He adds, “I have to apologize for the rest of my field.” “Nutritionists are fond of saying, ‘Oh, you think you’re all right now.’ Consider how much better you’d feel if you ate healthily all of the time.’
“To be honest, I disagree with them completely.”
Everyone’s attention is drawn to this.
He adds, “You guys are at the top of your game.” “You also don’t need anybody to tell you what to eat or how to consume it. You’ve reached adulthood.”
“However, I have some suggestions to help you feel better.”
JB then goes on to discuss particular supplement combinations that may help you heal faster from an injury. He discusses dietary methods for getting more restful sleep, which is a frequent issue for athletes on the road. He discusses how to utilize diet to prevent concussions, which are prevalent among NFL players. He also cautions about the risks of uncontrolled supplements.
“You never know what’s in there,” says the narrator. You can’t afford to test positive for any prohibited chemicals in your protein or recovery supplements since you’re dealing with multimillion-dollar contracts.”
Finally, JB throws the concept of calorie counting out the window. He explains the differences between “blue” and “red” kinds, as well as how to calculate protein, carbohydrates, and vegetables by looking at your palms.
We hand out copies of the Gourmet Nutrition cookbook after the presentation and spend the next several hours answering questions.
We observe that every athlete takes a bit extra time poring over his plate of food that night in the hotel dining area. We’re pleased with ourselves.
JB speaks with a group of enthusiastic athletes and coaches about high-performance nutrition.
The streets of Portland and VooDoo donuts
JB and I are wanting carbohydrates after a hard sprint workout and a big meal on our final night at Nike.
And where better to buy them than at Voodoo Doughnuts, the world’s most renowned doughnut shop?
We stroll through Portland’s streets until we come upon the business, a little hole in the wall with a huge queue snaking around the brick structure. We make our choices once we’re inside.
JB receives a head-sized banana fritter and a Bavarian cream-filled doughnut. I order The Ol’ Dirty Bastard, which is made with Oreos and peanut butter, as well as a glazed doughnut with Captain Crunch cereal on top.
We take the long way back to the hotel, dodging beggars and strange street magicians who hammer nails into people’s noses. (Seriously.)
Nothing will be able to quench our need for tasty doughnuts.
We return to the hotel and get some hot tea from the bar, as well as knives and forks from a waiter. A few of NFL players pass by as we dive into our package of goodies.
“Whoa! What are you two up to?” they enquire
JB and I are simply giggling.
“We aren’t constantly on nutritional patrol,” JB explains. “After all, we worked hard for these carbohydrates today.”
Our little detour resulted in some delicious doughnuts and an useful lesson for the boys.
Following the training camp.
It’s simple to deliver a nutrition lecture, but it’s more difficult to boil down complicated nutrition ideas into simple practical actions that anybody can follow.
We at PN are quite proud of our ability to do this.
Even yet, you never know how big of an impression you’ll leave on someone.
On the aircraft journey home from Nike, JB and I both wondered, “Will these people follow our advice?”
We received our response a few days later. Greg Jennings had sent us a brief note through email.
“I just wanted to let you know that I discovered a personal chef who is cooking for my family utilizing Gourmet Nutrition recipes. Thank you very much for your assistance, guys.”
Behind the Scenes, a presentation by Dr. Berardi.
Check out the following coverage of camp for a quick behind-the-scenes look:
More from the NFL Pro Training Camp may be seen here.
If you’re a coach or wish to be one…
It’s both an art and a science to guide clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy food and lifestyle adjustments in a manner that’s tailored to their individual body, tastes, and circumstances.
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For the last 7 years, we have worked with professional athletes at Nike’s Pro Training Camp. This year, we had the opportunity to take our talent and expertise to a new level with the opportunity to work directly with the NFL.. Read more about california high school football camps 2021 and let us know what you think.
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