If good health makes winning teams,the Seattle Seahawks (6-3) might not have any worries when they face the San Francisco 49ers (4-5) on Sunday.
Matt Hasselbeck,the Seahawks' quarterback,said he's ready to play after spending four weeks recovering from a sprained knee ligament.
“I feel good. I feel healthy. I feel stronger,” Hasselbeck said. “Ironically,I feel like I'm in better shape. I feel like I'll play on Sunday.”
Coach Mike Holmgren told the NFL on Tuesday,that tests and how the players rate their pain during practice this week will determine whether Hasselbeck and MVP running back Shaun Alexander will play Sunday.
Alexander has been absent for six games after breaking a bone in his left foot.
Hasselbeck,who was told by doctors that he needed four to six weeks off the playing field,will barely fulfill that recovery time if he returns on Sunday.
“Twenty-eight days will be on Sunday,” Hasselbeck said. “The guys that are hurt are working real heard to get healthy.”
He credited dietary supplements,a controversial fitness booster in professional sports,and training with helping his recovery.
Hasselbeck has been promoting EAS supplements and foods,the only brand of supplements approved for player use by the NFL Players' Association Supplement Label Certification Program.
Six of its products have been approved.
The promotion comes after San Diego linebacker Shawn Merriman's four-week suspension for using steroids in October. Merriman has said he wasn't aware of what he was putting in his body.
Hasselbeck said he sympathizes with players who wind up putting unknown substances,like orange peel,in their systems.
In tests,bitter orange peel is commonly known to come up as an indicator of steroid use. Extracts of bitter orange contain synephrine,a type of steroid.
“I want every advantage too,but I want to do it legally. When I go to Jamba Juice,I don't know what they're putting in those things,” Hasselbeck said. “I can't take Sudafed now without a doctor's note. It's those kinds of things,you just really gotta be careful.”
Jamba Juice,located in malls across the U.S.,makes fruit smoothies that offer free “boosts,” for energy,immunity and protein.
Keith Wheeler,vice president of research and development for the company that makes EAS,Abbott Nutrition/Ross Products Division,said it took nearly six months and third-party testing to get the NFL's approval.
The products,which researchers warn are not meant as substitutes for regular meals,should be used to increase caloric intake for athletes.
“The concerns would be concerns if there's concerns,with normal foods” Wheeler said. “Everyone starts to lump things like steroids,supplements and foods together,and it's important not to.”
Houston Texans' team dietitian Roberta Anding said the approved products can be used by nearly everyone – excluding child-athletes,diabetics and pregnant women.
“A lot of it just depends on what your goals are,” Anding said. “They can pretty much be used by anyone.”
She said the risks involved for athletes who don't keep a close eye on what they eat can be devastating and blamed federal food and dietary supplement labeling laws for not making labels easier to understand.
“I look at this as one of the best examples of buyer beware. The NFL position is clear: Athletes and athletes alone are responsible for what they put in their body,” she said.
Any players caught with a forbidden substance are subject to NFL penalties.
“They lose four of their games or 25 percent of their salary every year. That's a lot of money,” Anding said.
Hasselbeck said the issue has become controversial because “times have changed.” His father,Don,played tight end for the Patriots for seven seasons and finished in the with the Giants in 1985.
Hasselbeck said he can remember working for his dad's teams as a child to keep his dad and the team hydrated,while the coaches yelled that players needed to work harder before they could have more water.
“It's just uneducated,” Hasselbeck said. “Supplements really,the way they're meant,is just to help you with nutrition.”
The National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements lists the meanings of ingredients.