These days we are bombarded with advertisements for pills or magic potions that can do anything from improve our sex lives to make us stronger, faster, healthier or live longer. If you step back a bit from these scientific advancements you’ll find some professional athletes like Will Witherspoon.
Witherspoon (a.k.a. “Spoon”) has a natural philosophy on how to stay healthy and perform at the highest levels on and off the football field. Spoon’s NFL career is filled with accolades providing proof that, unlike those pills or potions, his philosophy actually works.
He was a third round draft pick in the 2002 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers and led his team that year to the second best defense in the league. The following year he was the only linebacker to start every game and was part of the Panther team that went to Super Bowl XXXVIII. In 2006 as an unrestricted free agent he joined the St. Louis Rams where he was named team MVP. In 2009 Spoon joined the Philadelphia Eagles and played in all 17 games of the season. He is currently a linebacker for the Tennessee Titans.
Spoon has embraced the old saying “you are what you eat” by incorporating that belief not only into what he eats as an athlete but his business, personal and charitable interests as well. He is the proprietor of Shire Gate Farm located in Owensville, MO and has set up a foundation with the goal to help others eat and live healthier.
“My Dad was in the military so growing up I lived in many different places throughout Europe and the United States,” Spoon said. “We lived in the communities not on the bases so I had the opportunity to experience a variety of foods and always had an appreciation for a colorful plate.”
Inspired in part by his childhood and utilizing his agricultural engineering degree, Spoon created Shire Gate as a family-owned environmentally responsible farm where American grass-fed livestock are free to roam the outdoors in a natural chemical-free environment.
One of his goals, he said, was to create “a place where my kids could enjoy nature and be a part of something that is very important to us both as a family and as part of a greater community.”
Spoon himself has taken the initiative to research the best breeds of cattle, to track down the perfect mate for his sow and to understand how to best care for the animals and the end consumer. As a result of this diligence, he is extremely well informed on nutritional and environmental issues and has a great sense of pride and determination to see Shire Gate and his foundation inspire healthy changes and choices. A difficult task, but Spoon’s not one to shy away from a challenge.
His rookie year in the NFL he unexpectedly ended up playing middle linebacker, a position he had never played before. The veteran defensive players (which was everyone else) were concerned that the new kid on the block was charged with the challenge of leading the defense. Spoon said “after a few practices the defensive linemen said, ‘We see you know how to run the show and we are just going to let loose’.” Spoon is using this same determination off the field to tackle the challenge of childhood obesity, promote healthy eating and develop sources of quality sustainable food. To learn more about Shire Gate you can visit www.shiregatefarm.com.
Each week I will step off the field with an athlete and talk about other things they do when not playing football. If you have a story you would like to share or a player you would like me to interview, please email me at Melissa@proplayerinsiders.com/.
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