Ex-49ers, Central Michigan lineman Joe Staley has lost 50 pounds since retiring in April

By Jon Becker
East Bay Times

Joe Staley has joined the ever-growing list of retired NFL offensive linemen whose bodies have undergone significant changes since stepping away from football.

The former 49ers and Central Michigan great told ESPN he’s lost 50 pounds since announcing his retirement in April following 13 years in the NFL. Now freed from the daily rigors of a diet designed to maintain girth, Staley has also lost four inches off his waistline in less than three months.

Former 49ers and Central Michigan lineman Joe Staley says he's lost 50 pounds since announcing his retirement from the NFL in April.

The new-look Staley said he donated five garbage bags of his old clothes while also restocking his collection of belts now that he’s gone from a size 40 waist to 36.

As much as Staley hated walking away from the 49ers and football, he likes what he sees when he looks in the mirror these days.

“As an offensive lineman, you’re always known as this big, humongous, unathletic blob,” the 35-year-old Staley said. “Offensive linemen get casted in a movie, and they’re always 500 pounds. Then you get the opportunity to be healthy again, and all of the effort you used to put into football, you put into that. It gives you a focus once you retire.

“It’s a little bit vain, but I’m starting to see abs that I’ve always wanted. And it’s kind of exciting.”

More: Central stage: Chippewas' Joe Staley, Eric Fisher step into Super Bowl spotlight

Staley was noticeably slimmer when he golfed with his former offensive line teammate Mike McGlinchey at Pebble Beach last month. In order to shed some of his listed playing weight of 295 pounds, Staley said he eliminated most carbs. He also swore off chips and salsa, replacing them with raw broccoli and an almond-based vegan dip.

Staley’s post-football transformation is becoming more commonplace as ESPN documented the cases of many recently retired linemen who’ve also slimmed down from their bulked-up NFL days.

From ex-Ravens guard Marshal Yanda, who lost 60 pounds in three months by shaving his NFL diet of 6,000 calories per day to 2,000, to former Giants and Chiefs lineman Chris Bober, who ingested nearly 5,000-calorie lunches at University of Nebraska-Omaha to prepare for a pro career, the stories are similar.

The average weight of a starting NFL offensive lineman is 315 pounds, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. That’s 10 pounds heavier than 10 years ago and a whopping 60 pounds heavier than the average offensive lineman who weighed 254.3 pounds in 1970, ESPN reported.

Although Staley has enjoyed his own transformation, quitting the NFL was the hardest part of the process.

“It’s a happy and sad day,” an emotional Staley said during his retirement press conference in April. “Obviously, I did not want to quit playing football. I still have a huge love for it. It’s going to be a weird transition going into retirement because it wasn’t a thing where I was like, ‘All right, this is going to be my last year, I’m going to be done.’ But it was just the right decision for me, so I think because of that, it was really hard for me … It’s what needed to happen.”

Staley’s body began to break down this past season. He suffered a broken fibula in Week 2, then broke a finger when he returned in Week 10. He also dealt with back issues as well as neck pain during his final year, which culminated in a Super Bowl loss to the Chiefs in February.