The NFL's Most Feared Linebacker Has a New Passion: Nutrition 53
Perhaps the fiercest linebacker the game of football has ever seen,
was known for his tenacious and fearless style of play during his illustrious 16-year career in the NFL. With a sheer passion and drive second to none, "Romo" played in 243 consecutive games, and helped lead his teams to five Super Bowls - winning four of them. Now retired from the game, Bill has taken the same passion and drive that helped him succeed on the football field, and put it into his
nutritional supplement company
. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Bill about his storied career, his life philosophy, and his new business endeavor.
Q. You played for 16 years in the NFL. Does any one particular season stand out over the others to you? If so, which season and why?
A. Well I loved them all for sure, but I think my first Super Bowl season with Denver when we beat the Green Bay Packers was my favorite. Our goal all along that year was to win the Super Bowl, and though we had a really strong season, we actually didn't win our division and went into the playoffs as the wildcard. So we beat Jacksonville and Kansas City in the first two rounds of the playoffs and ultimately went in to Pittsburgh and beat the heavily favored Steelers to reach the Super Bowl.
Q. You were always considered one of the most intense, passionate players in the NFL. What was the root of your drive and intensity?
Pitted against the defending world champion Packers in the Super Bowl, we were considered a major underdog. Though we knew all along we were going to win, all we did for two weeks is tell the media how great the Packers were and how we were just happy to be there.
Winning that game was unbelievable to me because it had been eight years since I been on a Super Bowl team (San Francisco 49ers back-to-back world champions 1988-89) and I began to realize how difficult it was to actually get there.
A. I honestly wanted to be the best in the world. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to do something for sixteen years that I absolutely loved doing and I felt that on some level I was put on this earth to play the game of football. To be able to play as many games straight (243), as many years (16) and never missing a game, I feel like my body was made to be able to handle an awful lot of punishment. And then you tie in the fact that I absolutely loved to practice, workout and study the game of football, all of that combined was the fuel for the passion that showed up every Sunday.
Q. Did you have a coach or were you raised in such a way that instilled in you this passion and drive?
A. My parents were extremely hard workers and I saw them work hard every day as a child. So work ethic was definitely something that was instilled in me from a very young age. But there is work ethic and then there's love and passion for what you do that really takes it to another level.
Q. You've previously said that you "took yourself to a place most weren't willing to go." Was it hard to turn off the switch once it was flipped on?
A. I was a pro and I got really good at turning that switch. When I even came around the football field, that switch would automatically turn on. For the game, the intensity level would be taken up even another notch, and that's something that didn't come easy and I worked hard at. Come game day, by the time I was about to run out on the field, I was in a place where I considered myself a 'human weapon'. Playing linebacker to me wasn't just about tackling an opposing player, it was about how hard I could tackle them.
Q. What do miss most about playing in the NFL?
A. Preparing for a season. I loved getting prepared for a new season, seeing how far I could take my body. Every off season as I got older I loved challenging my self even more. For example, my last year I was 37 and my mindset was: how far, how fast, how strong can a 37-year-old get to compete with 20-year-olds. That last season, I was faster, stronger than I had ever been in my life.
Q. During your NFL days you described yourself as being a "freak" about your training. When during your career or college did you start taking fitness more seriously?
A. It started for me my sophomore year of high school after I read on article on Herschel Walker in
Sports Illustrated. From that point on, my mentality was just to always try to outwork everybody. As my career went on I always worked hard, but it got to point when I realized I not only had to work hard, but I also have to work smarter, I have to be very detailed, and I have to supplement everything I did to get the most out of it.
Q. Was your fitness routine designed specifically to help you succeed at the linebacker position?
However, the real turning point in my career and my training came when I started working with Olympic track coaches. Olympic athletes are so much more detailed with their training compared to NFL players and that really had a major impact on me. My philosophy was this:
The way to get fast is by running fast. Let me tell you, when I was with the Raiders and working with the top performance coach on planet Earth, Dan Pack, my level of training was through the roof.
A. Yes, but I basically trained like a decathlete. Linebackers have to be able to do so much more than just catch a football, they have to take on linemen, and they have to run with tight ends and running backs.
Q. Describe your offseason training routine.
Q. What did your training consist of during the NFL season?
First off, my speed training was very similar to the way a decathlete trains. I had track coaches set up my training, which consisted of different types of running drills and sprints throughout the week.
Acceleration/Explosion: 10 to 20 meter sprints
Speed Training: 30 to 40 meter sprints at maximum speed
Speed/Endurance: 40 to 60 meter sprints at maximum speed
Off day on Track: A massage and 30 minute workout on the bike
Repeat Monday acceleration training
Endurance work with 100 to 150 meter sprints
Recovery day: 30-minute bike workout.
My weight training / lifting during the offseason consisted of:
These days would consist of 8-10 sets of Olympic/powerlifting style lifts including squats, and presses, etc. I would rest 3 minutes between sets and 4 minutes between exercises.
Heavy Bench / Russian Style Workout
Heavy Shoulder movement
At my strongest my personal best lifts were:
Bodybuilding / Joint workouts
Snatch: 225 lbs for reps and one arm snatch a 125 lb dumbbell
Squat: 600-620 lbs for 8-10 reps. I never went heavier than that for fear of injuring my lower back
Dumbbell Bench Press: 165 lb dumbbells for 3 reps
These would consist of 12 exercises with 3 sets per exercise with anywhere from 10-15 reps. I would do two exercises for upper body/arms (bicep & tricep movement), a back movement, a pressing movement, and two exercises for legs. In between all exercises I would do 6 sets of core movement exercises. Overall, I was doing a total of 36 sets of 10-15 reps with very little rest.
A. During the season I would follow the following routine:
Q. How is your training different now that you are retired? What are your current fitness goals?
Full body flush [I would do a lot of volume for the entire body with high reps just to pump a lot of blood without going heavy to help facilitate recovery]
Massage Therapy and Icing
Football practice and rest
Light weight training
A. The routine I consistently do now is very similar to the workouts used to do (Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday: Bodybuilding / Joint workout) during the NFL offseason. It's basically a full body routine with no rest and core movement exercise in between every set of a body part. It's usually about 45 min-1 hour full body 3 times a week, and I try to vary the exercises so I never repeat the exact same routine.
Q. When you were playing, what did your diet consist of on a daily basis? Did you have any nutrition secrets that helped you have success and longevity - protein shakes, bars, glutamine, creatine, etc?
Q. I've heard you worked with a whole team of nutritionist / doctors when you played. What got you so passionate about nutrition?
During my playing days I always made sure I focused on getting around 250g of
a day - preferably
whey protein isolate
and for a
slower absorbing protein
, a total
of some sort. I kept my sugar intake very low by eating healthy foods such as flax, fruit and vegetable extracts as opposed to sweets and junk food.
I had designer shakes
that I would make that often consisted of
. I would also take in around 10-15g of
per day as well as a
to ensure that I was getting enough
. I was literally putting something in my body every two hours. Near the end of my career I was even doing IV nutrition.
Q. Do you attribute your longevity in the league to mostly supplementation and training?
Every year during my football career I would learn more and more about nutrition. I became like a sponge and constantly wanted to
research and absorb as much information
as I could. It was actually after I read the book Optimum Sports Nutrition by Michael Colgan, that my eyes were really opened to what every nutrient could do for the human body. Bill Phillips also had a big influence on me with his writings and from getting to learn from him when he was at
A. Absolutely, there is no question that nutrition / supplementation made the single biggest impact on my career.
Q. Briefly describe your current nutritional program?
A. Obviously at the place I'm at in my life right know, I'm not going to do everything I did nutritionally when I was playing, there's really no need to. Basically now it's more about healthy and lean and my current nutrition program really revolves around my products (Nutrition 53).
Supplement Company: Nutrition 53
Q. I’ve been hearing a ton of buzz about your own supplement company Nutrition 53. How did that come about?
A. Nutrition 53 was born out of necessity. I had twenty plus concussions during my career in the NFL. During my last season with the Raiders, I knew that something was seriously wrong when two weeks before I retired, I left the Raider parking lot and I couldn't find my way home. After meeting with multiple neuro-psychologists and trauma specialists the NFL arranged for me to see, I was basically told there was nothing I could do. That wasn't a good answer for me, so I started doing research and communicating with some of the most renowned specialists in the field of neuroscience and nutrition who could give me the help I needed.
Q. Do you still have that same drive and intensity you had as a football player in running Nutrition 53?
Ultimately a supplement was designed for me to promote normal mental health. It consisted of various 'neuronutrients' to support my brain's mental health. I initially did between 500-800 trials to come up with the product, which is now sold under the name
Neuro1. This product (Neuro1) honestly gave me my life back.
Over time I started giving samples of Neuro1 to other people and they would always come back to me with raving reviews. One thing led to another and pretty soon I had started my company
A. Absolutely, I am extremely passionate about seeing this company succeed and ultimately help people with their nutritional needs.
Nutrition and supplementation had a big impact on my football career and now I'm in a position to really put my knowledge to good use and really affect people's lives. I got to tell you, there's something really satisfying in knowing that I can help people become healthier, leaner, more focused and productive, and at the end of the day, really love their best life.
Q. Do find this passion / endeavor (running Nutrition 53) as fulfilling as playing football every Sunday?
A. I do. The thing is, I didn't leave the game of football with a 'woulda, shoulda, coulda' mentality. I left the game really because my brain couldn't take the pounding any more. I left the game knowing that I gave everything I had for 16 years.
Q. Please tell us about some of your product lines.
Q. What makes Nutrition53 different or superior?
: A designer shake for those who want to be lean, fit and more defined.
: Is the best brain food available to help increase memory, enhance energy, protect brain health, & decrease brain age.
: Is a nutritional supplement designed to help you not only fall asleep faster, but also sleep more soundly and ultimately feel more refreshed, rejuvenated and have more energy throughout the day.
: Delivers a combination of vitamins and minerals to help you perform at your best throughout the day.
Q. What is Nutrition 53's target market (male / female, age, athletes, etc.)?
I refuse to build a product on price and skimp. I can't tell you how many products on the market that are skimping in quality because of price. On my balance sheet at
, my net income statement has lists of people's names whose lives have been dramatically changed from our products. I may be a little higher priced because of that, but I refuse just to sprinkle something in my products that have no effect whatsoever, and basically be nothing more than a big marketing scam. My products speak for themselves.
A. Again, these products are literally for anyone who wants to live their best life and perform at their absolute best in whatever they do. When I came up with the names of the products, Lean1, Sleep1, etc., the "1" represents an individual having one life, one go around, and lets make it the absolute best.
Q. What's the best piece of advice you would give to anyone trying to lose weight, get in shape and just generally live a healthy lifestyle?
A. Don't try to do anything too drastic. I don't like the word "diet". To me, it's about a lifestyle, and I try to encourage people to fit things into their lifestyle even if it's just little things like 15 minutes in the gym or a 30-minute walk. In regard to eating, the best way to maintain a healthy meal plan and start losing weight is by lowering your caloric intake. As a good guideline to help with your eating habits, I recommend the following eating 1-10 scale: If being absolutely starving is a "1" and being stuffed a "10", try to always start eating at a "3" and stop eating at a "7". In other words, get something to eat before you're starving and finish eating when you're satisfied. not stuffed.
Q. Are we going to see you bring your intensity and drive to Dancing with Stars any time soon?
A. I would absolutely love to do that, and I really think I could win it! At the end of the day, I think people like seeing people and rooting for people who are passionate. People know me as that intense fierce guy on the field, but I'm not that guy off the field. I'm extremely passionate about what I do, about life and my family, it's not about knocking the sh*t out of the quarterback anymore...doing something like that in everyday life, puts you in prison.