Orlando Franklin: I love food, but I have to be careful what and how I eat

We celebrated Thanksgiving here in Denver last week, and American Thanksgiving is pretty much just like Canadian Thanksgiving. I’m really all about the stuffing when it comes to Thanksgiving. The turkey doesn’t even have to be all that great, nothing really has to be that great as long as the stuffing is good. That’s my favourite part.

Being that I’m Jamaican, I like eating Caribbean food, but out here there’s a big population of Mexican-descended people. I end up going and eating Mexican a lot. The cool thing out here is I actually live not too far from the first Chipotle that was ever created. The first one ever was created in Denver and it’s a little place, but it’s completely different compared to all the other ones. It’s pretty cool, going to that first restaurant.

I tend to like Spanish food period – Puerto Rican, Dominican, they’re pretty close to us as far as Jamaican people, for making oxtail and stuff like that. If I had to pick my favourite foods, I’d go with island food, like Caribbean food, first. And then I’d go Italian, then I might go Spanish, then I’d go Mexican.

I’ve had people come up from Toronto a few times. They’ll bring oxtail and curry goat and stuff like that. We’ll season it up here, because you can get all the seasoning here. In Denver, there is oxtail, but they’re so huge, so different from Canada. I’ve been here four years and I haven’t found a meat market that will cut them up or anything, so you just get this big oxtail. It takes longer to cook and the flavour is just different.

So whenever I have people come to town from Toronto, I definitely bother them and tell them they need to bring oxtail. It makes their flight a little more uncomfortable because they have to go through customs and declare that they’re bringing meat into the country. They try to tell me no, but I tell them, “Listen, I’m getting you guys tickets to the game, you guys better bring oxtail!”

But you have to watch what you eat. We have a nutritionist that’s there every day and travels with us. You definitely have to be careful because in the NFL we get fined if we’re overweight. My weight is 325 – that’s my fineable weight. Every week, for the most part, I weigh somewhere in the teens. For the last couple of weeks I’ve been around 315. But if I was 326 pounds, I would get fined. It’s $495 per pound that you’re over. They weigh you in each and every Thursday morning – you’ve got to get on the scale and you’ve got to make weight.

Your weight can have an influence on your performance if you’re too heavy. You don’t get fined for being too light. The nutritionist just kind of harasses you and tries to tell you to get your weight up and tries to make sure he gets protein shakes and calories in you.

It’s better to carry as little weight as possible. My knees tend to hurt me more if I’m in the 20s as opposed to being in the teens. It’s so minute that you think, what’s 10 pounds going to do? But it really does make a difference, just on your knees and after the game, trying to recover. I have found that I am more effective and my body feels better at about 315 pounds.

I kind of cut it loose last week because we weighed in on Thanksgiving morning. I was about 11 pounds away from my weight so I just ate, went to sleep, woke up, ate again, watched some football, ate again, you know? Then we went to Kansas City on the weekend and Kansas City is known for some of the best barbecue in the world, so we definitely went and got some barbecue on Saturday when we got there.

We’ll try to go and get whatever that city is known for. Like, whenever you play in Baltimore or Washington, they’re known for their crabcakes. Whenever you play in New England, they’re known for seafood. It would definitely be cool just travelling and talking about different foods in each city, trying different things.

I remember a couple of years ago we played in Tennessee and there was this one chicken place that was on the Food Network. My agent was in town and he brought me some fried chicken. This restaurant in Tennessee, I forgot the name, but it was known for its fried chicken, and he brought it to me. It was some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had in my life!

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