NEW ORLEANS(WGNO)--You see them on game days and occasionally practicing, but there's more to football than put on pads and getting a "W". Saints offensive guard Tim Lelito showed me a day in the life of an NFL player.
Players' days start at 6:30 am with one off day a week, Tuesdays. Even on their off days they are constantly working on their health and bodies. As Lelito put it "my body is what gets me paid, my body is my business right now."
Contrary to popular belief being a football player doesn't mean you can eat whatever you want. At 320 pounds, Lelito eats 4 times a day and consumes between 4,000 and 5,000 calories. Players get a $550 fine for every pound they are over their set weight, per day. If you think about it, after the weekend if you are over 3 pounds that's over $1500! That's an incentive to stay in shape.
It doesn't stop with the regular season either. "During season they will provide us with breakfast lunch and dinner, but during the off-season I have to maintain my weight. I mean we have great food down here, so it's not like I can go ham on some po-boys," said Lelito, who put it in to perspective for me. You can't achieve a game day ready body in just one month before season, it's a year long commitment to the game.
Even off the clock he is rehabbing at home with personal equipment to keep his body as healthy as possible, while watching film and studying, a dramatic change from the life he came from.
Tim is extremely humble, as opposed to how football players are portrayed on television in shows such as "Ballers." He shared with me his background, a boy from Michigan who was raised by his grandparents. "When I grew up in Fowlerville, my grandparents had a horse farm, they raised thoroughbred horses, so I was always the smelly kid, because I had to go and clean stalls every morning before and after I came home from school."
He's a Midwestern boy living the American dream, but is aware of the pitfalls of his profession.
"The NFL stands for not for long. It doesn't stand for national football league. it stands for not for long, so guys like me that came in un-drafted--I don't know if I'm going to get a contract next year. The future for me is uncertain, so I have to budget out for the long haul."
Bigger paychecks come with downfalls as well. He gets paid bi-weekly like everyone else does, however, he only gets paid on game day, and is taxed in the city he plays. He has a good head on his shoulders and doesn't live a lavish life, however, he has experienced, as you would expect, people asking for favors due to his new status.
"A friend asked me to open up a Taco Bell franchise for him, and then I had a couple aunts and uncles, an aunt who asked me for a car," Lelito shared.
And while most people get a weekend, it takes constant work to guard Drew Brees . The job is 24/7 "I think the NFL average is like 2.3 years. This is 2.3 years for me now, so i just beat the average!"
Tim is also involved in charities and actively participates in the community. He host a softball tournament called "The Big Shot" in the summer. Portions of the proceeds benefit Get Checked or Check Out Health Foundation and The Team Gleason Foundation.
For more stories follow Meghan on Twitter https://twitter.com/Kluthfairy