Eighteen hours and six pounds to go before Craig (Ironhead) Heyward must weigh in at 250 or less if he wants to earn another $10,000. As usual, the countdown to Head's weekly reckoning with the scale is a fight to the butter end, especially now that somebody in the Atlanta Falcon lunchroom is sing-songing, "Hey, Head, we got Dommm-i-nooo's!"
Head freezes for a second. Mel Agee, a defensive tackle the size of a Fotomat booth, is waving a big, luscious, cheesy, dripping piece of pepperoni loveliness back and forth, the way a hypnotist would a watch. Head's ears perk. His hand rubs his face. Since yesterday evening he has had only a small bowl of noodles (dinner) and a fat-free, taste-free bagel (breakfast).
Isn't it enough that Head gave up breaking and entering, one-man after-hours warehouse sales, and turning people into steak tartare with his fists? Isn't it enough that he gave up his nightly tequila, beer and champagne-bottle-emptying parties? Isn't it enough that he gave up chasing 18-year-old babes around in his limo, even with the wife and kids back home? Now he has to give up food, too? Must every day be Lent?
Head weakens. The compass in his massive 5'11" body points toward the magnetic morsel of goo.
Wait, Head! You've gone from 340 pounds of lard and the Chicago Bears' waiver wire to one of the most devastating NFL running backs. You are the Man, the one back in the one-back offense of the Atlanta Falcons; you are the heaviest reason they are 4-2. You sure you wanna do this?
Head blinks twice and pivots away toward the locker room. Standing beside his locker, he looks like a man who would very much like to cry.
"It's funny, but I can't seem to remember Craig small," says his mom, Ann Heyward of Passaic, N.J. Possibly this is because Craig never was. He was nine pounds at birth and 200 pounds at age 11, which is not unthinkable considering that Ann goes about 225. His younger brother Scott is 425. A reunion of Craig's sister and six brothers would be illegal in many elevators. Craig was 18 before he knew what leftovers were.
"We didn't have a car," he remembers. "We didn't have much food. We used to have those wish sandwiches, where you wished there was some meat between the two slices of bread. We'd steal for the stuff we wanted. We stole bikes and sold 'em. I found this purse once, and there was $300 in it, and I used all of that to buy school clothes."
"O.K., I threw a rock through a car window and took it."