The NFL's Most Explosive Running Back is determined to lead his team to a Super Bowl Championship
With the start of the NFL season at hand, football fans everywhere are anxiously anticipating success for their favorite teams. While the media attention has been mainly focused on a select few storylines this offseason (i.e. the Eagles signing of Michael Vick, the return of all-pro quarterback Tom Brady and the signing of Brett Favre by the Vikings), one of the most intriguing stories has been overlooked: the return of a healthy
Brian Westbrook. Having undergone ankle surgery this offseason, Westbrook is looking to return to form and help lead his team to a Super Bowl Championship. ProSource Media had the opportunity to catch up with Brian for an in-depth interview prior to the start of training camp.
Known quite simply as '
The Ultimate Weapon' by his fellow Eagles teammates, Brian Westbrook is one of the most explosive running backs in the NFL. With his ability to elude defenders as both a running and receiving threat, and the skill to make just about anyone miss in the open field, Brian is a match-up nightmare for any defense. Legendary coach Bill Parcells describes Westbrook as "being made for big plays. He can run, catch and I'm sure he could throw if they let him. They can deploy him anywhere on the field and I think it takes a rare player to be comfortable with that."
Hailing from Villanova University, Westbrook was a consensus All-America, a two-time A-10 offensive player of the year and was the 2001 recipient of the Walter Payton Award (as the top player in NCAA Division I-AA). As a senior, he amassed an amazing 2,823 combined net yards and scored 29 touchdowns. Despite his absolute dominance in college, NFL teams were hesitant to draft him in 2002 because of his small size (he was listed at only 5'8", 200 lb). Ultimately drafted by the Eagles in the third round, Brian has since become one of the most dominant all-purpose running backs in the league and arguably the best at the position in Eagles franchise history. In his seven years thus far in NFL, Brian has helped lead his team to one Super Bowl, and he has played in two Pro-Bowls. Amassing an incredible 10,315 all-purpose yards, no other NFL running back since 2003, has recorded more receiving yards (1,651) and has a better yards per touch avg. (5.9 - min. 500 touches).
Recently signing a five-year contract extension with the Eagles, Westbrook is poised for his best season yet with his ultimate goal being to win a Super Bowl.
Q. Are there certain muscle groups you focus on most as a pro running back?
Brian: To be a successful running back in the NFL, you definitely have to focus on a couple groups of muscles. First, and foremost are your legs. You need to have strong legs to enable you to last throughout the season. So you want to strengthen your quads, hamstrings, as well as your calves. When you strengthen those muscles, you have to keep in mind that those are the things that are going to keep your ankles and knees in shape and able to perform every single Sunday.
Secondly, you need good shoulders. You're going to be taking hits every single play of a 16 game NFL season so having solid strong shoulders are vital. Lastly, your chest is important. You have to be able to block as well as push people off of you and do different things and so you need strong chest muscles to enable yourself to be able to do that.
Q. Briefly describe your normal daily offseason workout routine.
Brian: For the most part during the offseason I try to strengthen my muscles and make them as big as I can so during the season I can scale back my workout just a little bit. So really during the offseason,
I go pretty much as hard as I can, going to the gym every day, lifting as much weight as I can, and doing as many reps as I can.
Q. Obviously endurance training plays a huge role in having the stamina to play at peak performance through all 4 quarters of a game. What specific endurance training exercises do you do to build your stamina (during season vs. offseason)?
Brian: You definitely have to be in great shape to play in the NFL, there's no doubt about that. So to prepare yourself to be able to play in the first quarter of a game as well as be ready for the fourth, you have to practice and workout every single day like it's a football game. So you know there's going to be at least 70+ games in a football game, so you have to do 70 reps during your workout. Every chance you get, you're on that football field running, and doing stairs and other various things to keep your body in top shape.
Q. How much has weight lifting and other gym training played in your development as an athlete?
Brian: Well, development as an athlete, especially as a younger athlete, you have to have that sound foundation and weight lifting gives you that sound foundation early on in your career. To play in the NFL, you have to have a certain amount of functional strength and the weight room gives you that foundation. I started lifting in middle school and on through high school, college and the NFL. Now, I'm just trying to maintain that strength as well as improve on it. If you find that during the season that you're kind of weak in your punch and your not getting defenders off you effectively enough, you want to increase your bench, you want to increase your triceps, you want to increase the things that enable you to get stronger and help you get guys off of you better during a game. Every year, you tweak things a little bit more and try and get better every single year, and the only way you can do that is in the weight room.
Q. Do you use vitamins/supplements of any kind? If so what products do you use?
Brian: I usually try taking a multi-vitamin and an adequate amount of high quality protein after a workout. Protein is crucial because it feeds your muscles and allows your muscles to grow as well as recover within 45 minutes after a workout. The best and easiest way I've found to get protein in my diet is the Supreme Protein bars.
Supreme Protein has done a phenomenal job with these bars. They're delicious to eat (they taste just like a candy bar) and they're convenient and quick to get in your system. Also the protein quality is top notch
(30 grams of whey protein isolate).
I've tried all different kinds of protein bars and nothing even comes close in taste and quality to Supreme Protein. Caramel Nut Chocolate is my favorite!
Q. What's your greatest asset as a running back?
Brian: My greatest asset as a running back is being versatile. Any player that can come into the game and play in the first three downs, and not just being a one dimensional player, but also a receiving threat and blocker is a much more valuable player to his team. So for me,
I want to be the best player possible for my team, so I try and be as versatile a player as I can.
Q. Earlier in your career, there was a general sense that your touches in a game might be limited to 10-15, to keep you fresh. But now you've clearly emerged as an every-down workhorse back, vital in both the running game and the passing game. To what do you ascribe this change in your responsibilities?
Brian: Well I think the change is due to success that I've been able to achieve during the course of my career. Coach has seen a lot of the various things that I've been able to do and have given me more responsibility. He's noticed that I've been able to respond very well from touching the ball from 15 times to 20 times, 20 times to 25. Now, I'm at the point in my career, where coach is comfortable giving me the ball 25 to 30 times throughout the game and knowing that I'll be ok and be able to carry the load.
Q. At this stage of your career, what's your most important goal left to achieve?
Brian: The biggest goal at this point of my career is winning a Super Bowl of course. Continuing to improve as a player, as friends to guys on the team, as well as a person. If I can do those things, then I'll be satisfied with my career when it's over.
Q. Being drafted in the 3rd round and passed by so many teams, do that motivate you to work even harder to prove your naysayers wrong? Did give you kind of a chip on your shoulder?
Brian: I had more of a chip on my shoulder about the people who doubted me. So many people were saying, 'you're not good enough to do this, you'll only be able to that' and they didn't really know who Brian Westbrook was when they were making these assumptions and statements. So I really wanted to prove those people wrong and I wanted to show them that Brian Westbrook can play in the NFL for a long time and he'll be very good at it so I gone out every single day and played hard, always trying to continue to improve and I've been able to have a lot of success and hopefully have a lot more success still to come.