Eagles DT Hollis Thomas (6 feet, 330 pounds) met Thurmond at Philadelphia‚Äôs Capital Grille at 4:00 p.m. on Nov. 30.
[FIRST COURSE: Double portion of cheesecake; strawberry sauce; graham cracker crust.]
SI: Cheesecake first, huh?
THOMAS: You got to eat dessert first to see if the food is any good. You want any? I ordered two slices, but they‚Äôre for me.
SI: That‚Äôs all right. So what will you get, the porterhouse?
THOMAS: No. Since I normally get so many appetizers, I get the filet mignon. I try to stay away from the pastas. I‚Äôve got to watch my weight.
SI: I see. So I hear your parents were both cooks.
THOMAS: My mom, Carolyn, can bake and cook, but my dad, Jerome, is a real chef. He worked in the restaurant where I used to work in high school and during summers I was in college, Kirkwood Ice and Fuel in St. Louis. They have the best nachos I ever had. And they have this Snicker cheesecake and Reese‚Äôs Key Lime pie. Delicioso! That‚Äôs where I learned some of the finer points of cooking. I was a food prep and a dishwasher extraordinaire.
[SECOND COURSE: A half-dozen shrimp and a half-dozen oysters; cocktail sauce.]
THOMAS: You gonna watch me eat these oysters? They‚Äôre a sexual aphrodisiac, you know.
SI: I know. I won‚Äôt be having any.
THOMAS: So, how‚Äôs your love life?
SI: Focus, Hollis. I‚Äôm interviewing you, remember? So what were the staples of your diet growing up?
THOMAS: I didn‚Äôt have a diet when I was growing up.
SI: Do you cook?
THOMAS: I cook fried chicken real good. Actually, spaghetti‚Äôs my best dish. I cook it with a compilation of seasoned ground beef, tomato sauce, tomato paste. I make the sauce nice, rich and thick. Can‚Äôt give you all my secrets though.
[THIRD COURSE: Filet mignonwith onions; creamed spinach; mashed potatoes.]
SI: Have you ever wanted to be thin?
THOMAS: I was a skinny kid until high school, when I started playing sports. I don‚Äôt worry about being thin. That‚Äôs something everyone else does. If I was meant to be thin, I would be thin.
SI: You used to weigh about 370 pounds. Then, before last season, you started working with a nutritionist. How come?
THOMAS: I had just come back from my second surgery on my foot, and I wanted to be a healthy player and have a long career in the NFL.
SI: What were you eating before then?
THOMAS: Anything I wanted.
SI: What were your top five foods?
THOMAS: Mom‚Äôs meat loaf. Dad‚Äôs lasagna. Mom‚Äôs turtle cake with sour cream icing. Pineapple upside-down cake. Fried fish.
SI: You say you really watch your weight in the off-season now, right?
THOMAS: In the first six weeks of the off-season my nutritionist has me take out sugar, butter and salt. I can eat Splenda. First meal of the day is egg whites and oatmeal. Second is a protein drink or a protein meal with chicken or fish and rice or sweet potatoes. Then I‚Äôll have another protein meal. At night I have protein with vegetables. I have about five meals a day.
SI: What did you think when you were first put on this diet?
THOMAS: I was mad. I was about to cry when [his nutritionist] took all my stuff out of my refrigerator and threw it out.
SI: Do you have any contractual stipulations about weight?
THOMAS: I‚Äôve got to be at 327 when I‚Äôm weighed on certain weeks of the season. I stick around 330 or 335 so I can just run to get to 327. I used to have to be 315. That was killing me.
SI: So, where to now, Hollis?
THOMAS: I‚Äôm going home to take a nap. Then I‚Äôll work out for an hour.
WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS: Cardinals guard Leonard (Big) Davis, the NFL‚Äôs heaviest player (384 pounds; 6'6"), eats two bowls of Lucky Charms for breakfast.... Oakland‚Äôs 6'8", 345-pound tackle Langston Walker (right) plays on the AFC‚Äôs weightiest offensive line (average: 321 pounds). ‚ÄúI eat a lot and probably very badly,‚Äù he says of a lifestyle that includes ‚Äúice cream ... chocolate, peanut butter or cookies and cream‚Äù and trips to Carl‚Äôs Jr.... Tennessee‚Äôs 307-pound rookie DT Randy Starks says, ‚ÄúI‚Äôm a snacker. My favorite snack is blueberry Pop-Tarts.‚Äù