DAVIE—Cameron Wake is a man who enjoys having adversaries. It’s part of what drives him.
His No. 1 enemy recently? Pizza.
Wake is extremely serious about his diet, which is one of the key reasons he’s maintained his status as a ferocious defensive end at almost 36 years old. Here’s a conversation with him about what it takes to stay so disciplined:
Do you have an automatic respect for other guys who find a way to stay effective this late into their careers?
“I do, but I also think it changes by position, as well. A kicker’s workload and a defensive end’s workload aren’t the same. Again, being able to play physical football, contact football at the highest level for an extended period of time.
“I have a great amount of respect for anybody that’s doing that, regardless of position, because trust me, I know what this game takes away from you physically. When you sign up, you have to write some body parts off knowing that they’re going to the cause.
“You look around and you see a lot of these young pups, they really don’t know what they’re getting themselves into probably. But the older guys who do and they’re still doing it and still doing it well, my hat’s off to them.”
How often do you see a 22-year-old doing something in the locker room and shake your head?
“I think a lot of guys in our locker room are pretty good as far as understanding; but I’ve obviously been around the league long enough to see guys who (don’t) understand what’s coming and treating today like it won’t affect them 10 years in the future.
“If you’re eating a bunch of (garbage) and you’re partying and you’re staying up late and all of those things, that might be fun now; but again, like I’ve always said, there’s nothing free. In Year 6, when you feel like a bag of dog crap when you probably could have been okay and played a few more years, maybe that was based on those early years where you didn’t really do what you were supposed to do.
“Again, this locker room I think, for the most part, guys have taken notice from some of the older guys who we have who do things that they can do to continue to play. Then again, I’ve been around the league a while and I’ve seen the youngsters not take heed.”
Where does your discipline come from, food-wise? Because eating bad is pretty great.
“Why is it great?”
So you’re sitting there with a pizza in front of you and you’re thinking, ‘Man I can’t do this because I want to be out there killing it in Week 14?’
“Yes, but it’s a very simple risk-reward or cost-benefit. The pizza is great for 10 minutes, then you finish eating the pizza. Once it gets in your body, you feel like crap for two days. Ten minutes for two days, what kind of return on investment is that? Now if I give you a salad, it tastes like crap—I think salads taste great—but it tastes like crap for 10 minutes, but you feel great for two days.
“Don’t let me take any investment advice from you. Football is no different, neither is nutrition or discipline. If I give you $2 now and I’ll get $400 later, yeah, I’ll take that. Obviously, I’m not going to do it the other way around, take a loss and then take another loss. It just doesn’t make sense to me, personally.”
What’s the recipe for the Cam Wake Salad?
“Mixed greens, carrots, peppers, maybe a little avocado, chicken breast and if we have some, maybe some egg whites.”
With dressing or dry?
“Maybe a little oil and vinegar if it’s available, but I’ll eat it dry.”
How often do you talk to the young guys about what they eat and their lifestyles?
“I’d like to think that we established that a long time ago—weeks ago. I speak to the rookies every year and I tell them the hardest thing won’t be your opponent, it will be you. It’s not the guy you’re going against. He’s going to be great. He’s fast, he’s strong, he’s big, he’s all that, but the guy in the mirror is going to be your biggest (opponent) your entire career, whether it’s discipline, taking care of your body, eating that salad instead of that pizza that’s going to make you feel like crap for two days that tastes good for 10 minutes.
“All of those things, that’s the fight. We’re all big, we’re all fast, we’re strong. Studying instead of playing video games. All of those things. Either you want to be great or you want to be just a guy. Just the guys that play video games that have got all of the numbers and all of the promoters on South Beach. They’ve got pizza on speed dial; but they play for two or three years and nobody ever hears from them. If you want to be great, you eat a salad with no dressing.”
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