- Turns out, the exact menu for New England’s Super Bowl pregame meal is something of a secret (surprised?). But a handful of Patriots share their dining habits.
ATLANTA — The conversation seemed innocuous enough, but there was a noticeable uncertainty phasing its way into Marcus Cannon’s expression.
How thought out is your pre-game meal?
“We eat the same thing every week.”
What’s your go-to?
“Um, the one I eat every week.”
Is that a closely-guarded secret?
“Oh yeah. Yep.”
Does the team give you the meal?
“I can’t tell you.”
Since the Patriots dine frequently at the Super Bowl, the search for their pre-game menu seemed easy enough. They’ve been here five times since 2011 alone, which means four different planning sessions for a pre-game meal done by their current nutritionist, Ted Harper, who joined the team in ’12 after time with the Army’s special operations command. Stories of his custom meal plans have been reported, but the contents of those meals, save for pistachios, require a deeper dive (the Patriots declined a request to make their menu public). Like many aspects of the NFL’s most successful franchise, their dining habits take on mysticism. What do they know that we don’t?
The truth is, if you’re looking to throw a Super Bowl party with food that truly represents the type of meal the players are eating before the game, it wouldn’t take the artistic hands of Thomas Keller, or even the irreverent culinary mind of Guy Fieri. Before the biggest game of their lives, the biggest meal is usually something quite standard; something familiar. Here’s what we uncovered from a few Patriots who talked about arguably the most important meal of the NFL season.
“The night before any game, I have some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and that’s my night meal before going to bed,” Deatrich Wise said. “In the morning, I’ll have some French toast, hash browns, a whole bunch of fruit and oatmeal. If it’s a 1 p.m. game that’s it, if there’s a later game, I’ll have some pasta with margarita sauce, vegetables and sweet potatoes. That’s my meal.”
Wise said the foods he listed pretty much covered the breadth of a Patriot pre-game meal, though a hamburger or chicken wing might be thrown in from time to time.
“Nothing special,” Stephon Gilmore said. “We try and eat the same things.”
Gilmore is also a peanut-butter-and-jelly devotee and has been since college. Before a game, he might also throw in a banana. Another offensive linemen seconded the pasta option.
“I used to enjoy myself a lot, but now I eat healthy and my body changed,” Gilmore said. “You have to eat healthy as a professional, there’s so many games. You have to take care of your body as much as you can.”
While all of the food options are surely calibrated to a player’s specific needs, and likely extends beyond the confines of their seemingly bland buffet, almost all the Patriots we spoke to for this story said that their time with the club has given them simple guidelines on how to handle their nutrition all the time, even when they’re not at a team-sponsored function.
Gilmore said he ditched a long-time favorite, Wendy’s—even in the offseason. Other players said that the college dining hall and unlimited swiping meal card led to some misadventures in dieting and laugh at the way they used to be.
However, as is usually the case with the Patriots, there are going to be some parts of the menu we’ll never find out about.
“We have a pretty healthy team,” Cannon said. “Our nutritionist and our teammates, they eat so healthy and you look over at them like, I wanna eat this, but everybody else is eating this.”
Is there anything even bad you can eat in the facility anymore? Like candy or processed sugar?
“You should ask Ted,” he said.
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