My namesake is a 500 pound football player

By John Taylor | Aug 28, 2012

A man named John Taylor is currently a defensive tackle for the Central Penn Piranha in Enola, Pennsylvania a team that plays in the Gridiron Developmental Football League.
While I would usually hold a sense of pride that someone who shares my name is a professional football player, this John Taylor has my attention for reasons other than his playing abilities. Namely, his 6-foot-11, 500-pound body has me worried for his long-term health.
Taylor, who is used primarily on the defensive line in short yardage situations, is listed on the team’s roster at 465 pounds, but in a recent interview with CBS, Taylor said that he currently tips the scales at “five bills.”
In the same interview, Taylor said his goal is to lose weight after his playing career is over.
Now I’ve heard of football players who lose weight after their careers end because they no longer need to carry the excess body mass needed to be a competitive player. But until now, I’ve yet to hear of the 500-pound player who maintained their ample size because playing at a lower weight would be detrimental to their performance.
I know players like Ted Washington, Sam Adams, and Tony Siragusa were considered large-than-average NFL players who also displayed the athletic abilities consistent with being a professional athlete. But can you image if these players weighed 500 pounds? How competitive could they have been? Would they have even passed a physical for a NFL team?
I realize that John Taylor plays at the semi-pro level of professional football, but shouldn’t his coaches and the Piranha organization be more concerned about his health rather than allowing him to play as a run stopper? I’m sure Taylor serves a role that the Piranha coaches need to have filled, but couldn’t a 300 pound nose tackle serve the same purpose?
“I think there needs to be some distinction between a high school or college player playing at 500 pounds, and a grown man playing professionally,” said Rick Tippin, a member of the 1999 NCAA Division III National Championship football team at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington.
“When a college player is overweight, a coach will usually say something because his level of conditioning is hurting his play, and the team.
But if I had played with a 500- pound guy, my coaches would have probably redshirted him for a year, and gotten him help for his obesity. But in at the professional ranks, I’m not saying coaches don’t care, but the health of the player may not be a concern if their size helps the team win.
It’s sad, but if (Taylor) couldn’t get it done on the field, and the coaches thought it was due to his weight, only then would they help him lose some pounds if they thought he had potential.”
Regardless if anyone believes the coaches have an obligation to help a morbidly obese player lose weight, the fact remains that Taylor is significantly cutting his lifespan short by playing at this size. The problem is that he is old enough to know that his current size is a detriment to his ability to lead a long, healthy lifestyle.
After all, shouldn’t Taylor want to be around long enough to see his children have the opportunity to play professionally as well?