The 2001 NFL Draft is one that is remembered for being deep as far as defensive lineman goes. Nine were chosen in the first round alone, but only three of them were ever named to the Pro Bowl – Richard Seymour, Casey Hampton and Marcus Stroud. The latter was on his way to a dominant career before injuries caught up to him, the last two in his shoulder in 2010.
“We were playing against the New York Jets,” recalls Stroud. “They were running a counter play, I beat my guy and was engaged with the guard. I tried to arm tackle (Jets running back) Thomas Jones and my arm got caught. The guard kept going and your shoulder only stretches so far…”
There was no need to be more descriptive and Shroud’s voice tailing off explained it well enough. After returning, the defensive tackle re-injured his shoulder playing what was considered a home game for the Buffalo Bills in Toronto against the Chicago Bears. Following another surgery in 2011, he was signed by the New England Patriots and unfortunately caught a staph infection while rehabbing. His shoulder was not responding well, anyway, and Stroud decided to retire. All told, the 13th pick of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars had 424 tackles and 29.5 sacks in a 10-year career.
“Four surgeries later, here I am,” Stroud says. “I believe that I could have helped a team for another two or three years (if healthy.)”
So instead of doing what many retired football players do – sit around and get out of shape – the former Georgia Bulldog stuck with a training program that, while different from the one he followed during his playing days, is still quite taxing and gets the job done.
“I don’t lift as heavy as I used to, but increased the volume,” says Stroud, 35. “I also do a lot more aerobic-style exercises and MMA cardio.”
Hitting the gym on the average of four days a week, Stroud is also cognizant of his diet. “I eat better (now) than I used to back then,” he explains. “I never wanted to be the fat guy; I want to keep it slim and sexy.”
Perhaps the greatest gift that Stroud has been able to give the fans does not come in the form of a forced fumble or quarterback sack, but rather by hosting an annual football camp for youths, albeit one that differs from your average ‘Offense and Defense’ drill-filled teaching session.
“It’s more of a wellness camp, with both boys and girls,” he described. “All ages and sizes and everyone gets a chance to participate, not just the great football athletes.
“Besides, (we) also give people the knowledge to eat better and fight obesity,” continues Stroud. “We show the parents, as well, and give them suggestions on how to find non-expensive healthy food if that’s a concern.”
This summer will mark the fifth anniversary of the ‘Marcus Stroud 99 Pro Football Camp For Kids,’ which is held at his alma mater, the University of Georgia, and includes other NFL and NCAA players.
Be sure to follow Marcus Stroud on Twitter.
Photos courtesy of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills