ESPN's Mike and Mike morning talk show is a staple for many sports fans in the United States, so getting an opportunity to talk football and fitness with Mike Golic—one of the show's hosts—is great.
Adding a recently retired, three-time Pro Bowler like Matt Light to the conversation makes for even better dialog.
Recently, I had the chance to speak to both men about what they've done to stay in shape after their playing days, and of course I picked their brains about the Super Bowl, the NFL draft, and the Pro Bowl.
Here is a podcast of the entire interview, and the highlights are covered below.
Health and Fitness After Football
Before Golic became one half of the popular sports talk show, he was a defensive lineman in the NFL from 1986 to 1993.
Light is just one year removed from starting at left tackle for the 2011 AFC Champion New England Patriots. Both Golic and Light played in the trenches where weight was a plus on the field.
Since they retired, both men have had to take a different approach to snacking and exercise. Golic said:
When I was done playing, I didn't feel like working out anymore. I was done, and I ate the same things I ate when I was playing, when I could burn it all off.
All of a sudden I wasn't doing that, but a couple years after I retired, I walked out of the shower and I looked at myself in the mirror, and I almost threw up.
I knew I had to get it together. I had to train better and eat better.
Now I make sure that I always have almonds with me for a healthy snack.
Both Light and Golic made several references to heart-healthy snacks like almonds as they discussed the changes they made to their diets. Both men still love to eat of course, but they acknowledge that there are healthier ways to snack.
Light even considers himself a bit of an almond chef. He suggested almond biscotti as a delicious option. In between exchanging almond recipes, Golic chimed in with his affinity for fruits and vegetables as well.
By the time we were done, I was adding almonds to my grocery list. Check out AlmondBoard.com to see some of the recipes available.
The NFL Draft
Light deferred to Golic's expertise on this subject, since he has generally focused on the NFL game during his year with ESPN.
Golic talked about the uncertainty surrounding the top quarterbacks in the draft. He wondered:
Are any of these quarterbacks: Geno Smith, Scott Glennon, [Ryan] Nassib—who didn't have a great showing at the Senior Bowl,—Matt Barkley—who we haven't heard a lot about since the shoulder injury—worth taking in the first round?
Can teams resist taking them high, even though they may not view them as franchise quarterbacks?
He also expects to see a run of offensive linemen and interior defensive linemen. In his words, it could be a very "unsexy" draft due to the lack of players from skill positions.
Golic also mentioned really rooting for South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore's catastrophic knee injury makes being selected early a long shot, and being drafted at all a question mark.
The Pro Bowl
I'm not a fan of the current showcase or the announcement process for the NFL's All-Stars. I talked about some of the changes that should be made to improve the process and the actual talent showcase in a previous article.
I swear to you the article was done before the interview was conducted, but both Golic and Light mentioned many of the same improvements I suggested.
I'm not sure if that makes me smart or late, but either way, I'll take it.
Golic did offer some thoughts, but he deferred to the three-time Pro Bowler Light's first-hand experience in Hawaii.
I've had very strong opinions on the Pro Bowl for a long time. The last one I played in, I literally walked around and bought drinks for everyone of the NFC's defensive lineman.
I said listen boys: they're going to keep coming, there will be a lot of them, as long we have the understanding that we aren't going to touch each other. I guarantee you saw that play out in the game.
It's a little ridiculous to think that guys are going to go sell out and give everything they have to play, for what?
It's not to be disrespectful to the game, or the guys that want to compete. At the end of the day, there is no upside to it.
Golic added this piece of reality and perspective:
I agree with everything Matt said, but here's why the game isn't going away. The rating for 2012's game was a 12.5, the rating for the World Series was 12.7.
The Pro Bowl had more money bet on that game than [the two NBA games played on Sunday] combined. When the game is being bet on like that, and when the game is generating those kind of TV ratings, networks will continue to pick it up.
We're in the middle of hype week, and we've already had a few stories gain front-page appeal, but I asked Light and Golic what storyline should be dominating the Super Bowl hype.
Light feels the battling Harbaugh brothers is the biggest story, even over Colin Kaepernick's rise and Ray Lewis' last run.
I'd have to agree, but I'm not sure that I'm happy with that. I guess any of the three could and will become nauseating after the first 1,000 times they're mentioned.
Golic cited the variable level of discipline for the Ravens defense as the biggest storyline on the field. It will be key as they attempt to defend the read-option with Kaepernick.
As for the outcome of game itself, I'm sticking with my original prediction. I picked the San Francisco 49ers to win it all from the beginning of the season, and when the playoffs began. Golic is taking the same approach.
He chose the Baltimore Ravens at the beginning of the season, so he's sticking with them. Although, he does acknowledge that the Niners are the better team.
Light agrees with me on the Niners. He said:
The Niners have big play potential on both sides of the ball. It'll be a hard-fought game and I don't think the Ravens will be able to keep pace.
We'll see if the Ravens can prove the doubters wrong one more time.