If you’re a Brit who loves the NFL, you are probably familiar with Osi Umenyiora: an NFL ambassador and one of the experts who brings you football commentary on this sceptred isle via the BBC’s The NFL Show. The 39-year-old is well equipped to talk about the sport after being drafted into the NFL at 21, playing for the New York Giants for ten seasons, winning two Super Bowls and then playing for the Atlanta Falcons before he retired.
This year, he’ll be guiding you through the 2021 Super Bowl, which he says isn’t just going to be exceptional because of Covid-19. “What you’re going to see is a matchup that we have never seen before,” he explained. “You have the best young player in football in Patrick Mahomes, a quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs. The team they are playing against is quarterbacked by the best in history: Tom Brady.” A matchup between the best of the new and the best of the veterans? What more could you ask for. Even if the audience might be much smaller due to social distancing, Umenyiora says this will be one for the ages.
We wanted to know how Umnenyiora has been keeping up his football physique now he’s off the pitch and, even more challengingly, stuck at home in the UK. If you don’t like VersaClimbers, look away now.
“I’ve been really disciplined, even since retiring, because on television you want to present yourself a certain type of way. I wanted to give a good example for people watching, so I try to be healthy.
“I wake up in the morning, have a coffee and then I work out and walk around my neighbourhood a couple of times. Then I know that my day is beginning. This happens seven days out of the week – maybe once in a blue moon I’ll take the day off. But it’s literally been the same thing, I think, in some form or fashion, every day. It’s so routine it’s almost ingrained in me. I can’t do anything before I do that. I couldn’t even have this conversation if I hadn’t done that prior. It’d be bothering me that much.”
“I used to play soccer quite a bit – five-a-side – and I haven’t been able to do that. The only thing I’ve been able to do is use my VersaClimber. They delivered it literally one day before the lockdown started. So I’ve been on that machine pretty much every day. It’s so repetitive to be doing something like that for a year straight. I’m so sick of that machine, but there’s nothing else I can do because I don’t like to run outside. So it’s pretty much the only thing I have. Every day I just get up and I do that and I can’t wait to get rid of that machine.”
“Mine hasn’t changed for the best, I can tell you that. I just love food. It’s so good and you’re sitting at home, you’re bored, you’re sad because of what’s going on in the world and it is so easy to reach in and just eat the good stuff that’s around you. I’ve just been indulging. I can’t even lie.
“That’s the one thing that I’ll say has changed quite a bit over this past year. I was really disciplined about my diet and not so disciplined on my workout, but now because of my diet I’m having to be disciplined about my workouts instead. ”
“The amount of biscuits that I consume on a daily basis is not OK. That’s the only thing I can think of. TV shows I don’t indulge in so much. I read quite a bit, but the only thing that I can say for sure that I really indulge in is sweets and sugar and cookies and things like that.”
“There’s definitely been change. I don’t know if it’s changed for the worse because I still get the same amount of sleep, but I find myself getting really tired around 9pm. So I fall asleep around 9.30pm, wake up around 2am, then I stay up to 4am, tossing and turning, then I sleep again till 7am. Usually I would sleep through the night, but now I don’t do that any more. This happens almost on a nightly basis now, so I think it’s got worse.
“Truthfully, I cannot sleep with clothes on. That’s a little too much information, right? But that’s all I got in terms of sleep hygiene. Can’t sleep with clothes on. Can’t do it.”
“Over this past year, I’ve read so many books. When I was younger, I used to read a lot. It was a hobby, especially when I was in Nigeria, we didn’t have TV or any of that, so my dad and my mom used to just give me a load of books I would read a lot. But then when I came to America, I kind of fell back a little bit on that. But over this past year I’ve really reinvigorated my love for reading: I don’t read fiction. I read self-help, things of that nature, things that can help me with my mind. It’s really done wonders for me.”
Super Bowl LV is on BBC One and BBC Radio 5 Live on Sunday 7 February at 11.30pm.
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