New York Jets Therapy Sessions: Body Dysmorphic Disorder

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Cole Patterson continues his New York Jets Therapy Session series. Make sure to check for these every Thursday and to give him a follow on Twitter

This is more of an observation of a phenomenon than a true diagnosis of an issue. It has become an increasingly apparent, NFL-wide trend for players to focus on playing weight. While concern over playing weight is an issue as old as organized sports, it seems that increased levels of obsessiveness over the measurable are occurring league wide, with the New York Jets representing a microcosm of the phenomenon. This obsession with weight is reminiscent of the psychological condition, Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

Diagnosis: Body Dysmorphic Disorder is an illness where the patient becomes detrimentally preoccupied with a perceived bodily fault, often weight. Jeff Cumberland, in an attempt to be a more dynamic pass catcher, has dropped some tonnage. Braylon Edwards weighed in at 215 pounds this year, his lowest measurement since the 2010 season. Quinton Coples, in an attempt to reach an “acceptable” playing weight for a 3-4 outside linebacker, has shed 12 pounds (dropping from 291 to 279 pounds).

Symptoms:

- Faster!

- Weaker…

- More healthy!

- Less healthy…

- Loss of focus on football fundamentals

- Smokin’ beach bod

Treatment

Focus on Football: There is something to be said for a focus on playing weight. It can mean increased speed and agility. If the weight was altered properly, it can mean a higher muscle to fat ratio. However, it can also mean a loss of strength and focus. If weight is gained or lost with proper diet and exercise it can be highly beneficial to a player. However, if weight is altered artificially or unhealthily (see Joe McKnights 2012 McDonalds diet) it can harm the player.

Aside from physical health, this focus on playing weight can be a mental drain. If a player spends the whole offseason focusing on weight loss, they may spend less time executing football drills or working the functional muscle groups for the sport in the weight room.

With these detriments in mind, it may be best to encourage players to focus on specific, football-related skills in the offseason as opposed to a playing weight. A player’s improved football acumen will most likely be more noticeable in a game time scenario than even markedly improved weight.

Health Over Measurables: Most patients with Body Dysmorphic Disorder are so zeroed in on a specific attribute like weight or appearance they lose sight of overall health. Physical health should be a priority, especially for professional athletes. The ability to perform under high levels of physical stress is a necessity for pro ballers. A greater focus on eating right and proper weight room use would make a more noticeable difference in a players on-field performance than a specific weight goal.

Playing weight is something that will always be an inherent part of football. While it may impact on field performance, it will always border on detrimental to a player’s mental and physical health. I am not advocating a removal of playing weight from the sport itself, but I believe a focus on overall health and football acumen may provide for better on field performance and off field.

  • Angel

    This is a non-sequitur but…

    I just watched the Browns make the Lions look like clowns.

    The Jets are in trouble folks.

  • Dima

    It’s preseason. Relax.

  • Eric Pec

    That was the Browns second preseason game so they had time to clean some of their game up, and Calvin didn’t play for the lions and that makes a huge difference because stafford looked putrid without him

  • KAsh

    The Lions are already clowns. All they are missing are the red noses. They have a nice, though young and unproven, d-line and Calvin Johnson. If they do not have Calvin Johnson, Stafford cannot complete a pass. The rest of their team would never be highly sought free agents.

    As for weight, these are professional athletes. Changing their weight is sometimes the only way they can adjust their game. As long as they are able to maintain a steady weight, then why not?

  • joeydefiant

    What does the Browns vs Lions have to do with the Jets? Are you implying that because the Jets lost to the Lions in the first preseason game and the browns beat the lions in the second preseason game that the jets are “worse” than the browns? That is a silly theory that does not work. Last year arizona beat the patriots and the jets beat arizona. Does that mean the jets were better than the patriots last year?

  • Mark Phelan

    Suggest you reconsider this “Therapy Session” series.

  • Richard C-R

    Angel its preseason who cares.

  • Angel

    Sorry, Cole. I should have at least commented on your article. You made a great point about Fitness and Health being a necessarily priority over weight, and that is an important fact. Nowadays you hear a lot about ‘Body Fat Percentage’ and people are trying to get it as low as possible, but that could have a VERY detrimental effect on an athlete.

    Weight is tied to Health, but weight itself is not the only indicator of your health OR fitness level.

    On to my Browns and Lions derailment: I get it. Its “only” preseason and you can’t really compare teams at this point before the season and that doesn’t necessarily mean the Browns are better than the Jets…

    …my point was more to the fact that the Browns DESTROYED the Lions’ 1st team offense and defense, making them look like high schoolers.

    That was troubling to me. Though, when once I thought about it… the Jets did stop the Lions’ offense pretty well [even with Calvin Johnson] and they did move the ball well at times against the 1st team D.

    So, I guess it was really an overreaction on my part. My bad.

  • Drew

    Joe Mcknight was joking when he said he gained weight by eating McDonalds and the media ran with it.

    I understand this article was sarcastic, but I hate to see this site perpetuate that rumor.

  • matr dontelli iii

    i don’t think this series comes close to the standards set and normally achieved on this site