My guest today is four time Super Bowl champion Bill Romanowski. I have been friends with Bill for over 20 years and have always known the softer side of Bill. I thought this interview was going to be about how to recover from concussions, training, supplements, etc. and there is a lot of information there, but this is also a deeply personal conversation about pursuing dreams, how to build a life after being a professional athlete, and not caring about being understood. A lot of athletes have a hard time moving on or letting go of their identity, and Bill shows how you can turn one passion into a new passion and the importance of building a real life. Enjoy
- Friendship with Bill and Surfing [00:03:58]
- From Basketball to Football [00:08:11]
- Developing Aggression in Football [00:21:31]
- Willpower [00:31:33]
- The Cost of Football [00:41:31]
- Bill’s Approach to Training [00:46:53]
- Applying Training to Real Life [00:58:05]
- Bill’s Passion for Football [01:03:12]
- Retiring from Football [01:08:05]
- Valuable Lessons from Being a Businessman [01:16:24]
- Practicing Hyperbaric and Healthful Aging [01:20:54]
- On Parenting [01:29:28]
- On Marriage [01:35:43]
- Bill’s Fear and How He Overcomes It [01:39:29]
- Bill’s Gentle Eating Space [01:46:52]
- On Yoga and Meditation [01:50:06]
- Peace with Separation [01:52:06]
- Bill’s Universal Invitation [01:55:55]
#206 4X Super Bowl Champ Bill Romanowski | Forging a Path to Football Stardom, Overcoming Childhood Challenges, Maintaining Intense Focus, The Common Denominator of Champions, Transitioning Out of Sport & Staying Ahead in Health
Welcome to the Gabby Reece Show where we break down the complex worlds of health, fitness, family, business, and relationships with the world’s leading experts. I’m here to simplify these topics and give you practical takeaways that you can start using today. We all know that living a healthy balanced life isn’t always easy. Let’s try working on managing life a little better and have some fun along the way. After all, life is one big experiment and we’re all doing our best.
“I’m laser-focused on what I want, no one is going to tell me anything. Mentally, at that point, I was going to outwork everybody on the field. I was going to spend more time in the weight room, I was going to spend more time in the film room, and I was in practice. They were going to know that I wanted to play.”
“The standard of being the best, the standard of always trying to win the Super Bowl was the best teaching I could ever have, and it started with Bill Walsh and then transferred to George Seifert, and I won a Super Bowl my first year.”
My guest is NFL great, Bill Romanowski. Bill played for sixteen years in the NFL and won four Super Bowls. To say that he has been known to be one of the more intense and aggressive players to play the game might be an understatement. I always thought that was interesting because I’ve known Bill for over 22 years.
In everyday life, he is soft-spoken, a family man, and goes with the flow. Laird and I not only enjoyed our friendship with him but he also was a helpful resource. One thing about him is always asking questions and getting the most modern forms of treatment when he was competing. If one of us ever got hurt, we had nutritional questions, or somebody that we knew was injured or had a concussion, we always went to Bill and got some input from him.
His ability to investigate and curiosity about things has been with him his entire professional career. I did want to say, “I know you as this one person but what did it take for you to be ROMO on the field? Where did you go as a person to do that? Also, even the toll on yourself, your family, your reputation, and whatever. What was the ultimate toll?”
My hope with this conversation was to get a ton of takeaways because Bill is such a wealth of knowledge. However, the other part that we got was an inside heartfelt look at ROMO’s thinking and his pursuit when trying to go for a goal or reach a dream. It isn’t about a popularity contest, it’s like, “I want to get that starting job,” or, “I want the coaches to notice me.”
Sometimes, in that pursuit, you’re not making friends. This was a real opportunity for me because I’ve known Bill even while he was competing but always off the field and somebody who loves surfing and we would spend time around a dinner table. It was an informative and emotional conversation. I hope you enjoy
Bill Romanowski, I am glad that you’re here. I was trying to think about it because I knew I was going to be talking to you. We’ve known each other for over 23 years.
It’s a funny story because we met in a place where neither one of us nor any of us would’ve been there. That year, you, your wife, Laird, and I were both in Sports Illustrated. You and Laird were at this celebration of a lot of beautiful bathing suit models for SI sports and then maybe the crews that hang around them. Laird said he looked across the room and saw you and it was like the only two animals in the room that identified.
I saw him and I’m like, “Who is this blonde dude? He looks like a good guy.” I went up and started talking to him. He surfed. We hit it off. I was a fish out of water being in that place. Laird was like, “He was the only Neanderthal in the room. I was grateful.” I’d love for you to share a little bit of your journey from Boston to San Francisco and such. You learned to surf when you played for the 49ers.
For six months, Gabby, I don’t know if I even caught a wave.
Laird said you were under-foamed. You had too small of a board. That wasn’t your friend, whoever put you in there.
I did not know what I was doing. I was surfing Beach Break. I didn’t even know what a Point Break was at that point. I had this one spot south of Santa Cruz that I would go to but I loved it. I was in the water as much as possible. I was surfing these Beach Breaks. Every once in a while I would get up for a second or two and that’s all it was and then I got turned onto a Point Break.
Did they turn you onto a longboard too at the same time?
I have a longboard. On my first ride, I was like, “This is surfing?” I thought what I was doing was surfing.
Stand up to your feet and get pounded. How much did you weigh back then?
I was 242.5.
When you’re trying to surf, you’re trying to surf at 240 pounds, let’s say. Did they give you a regular board?
I had a nine-foot fairly thin board and it wasn’t very wide. I learned from my buddy, Bob Pearson, what I needed and that changed. It was like playing on the grass with a pair of sneakers is what I was doing.
Why surfing? You grew up on the East Coast. What called you to do it? It’s not an easy sport.
I always knew that I wanted to surf. I always had this dream of surfing. Maybe it’s a calling of some sort.
When you were a kid, you thought about surfing?
Even when was a kid, I always thought about it. On some level, I’m glad I didn’t do it as a kid because there’s no chance I would’ve played football. I would’ve given up everything. If I surfed when I was a young kid, that’s all I would’ve done.
Let’s talk about that. You’re a good-sized person, naturally. I always say there are different kinds of big people. You have a big head, big hands, and big bones. You’re a big person. As a young man growing up on the East Coast, was it understood and given that you were going to play football?
[bctt tweet=”My fear was fear of not being good enough. I don’t think I feared failure.”]
My brothers played football. I remember being a little kid, 3, 4, and 5, going to their football games. I knew that I always wanted to do that. I started when I was 10. My real love was basketball.
Do you get off the ground?
I can get off the ground. I was a white boy that could jump. I played forward at 6’3” or 6’4”. When I was in eighth grade, I went to a basketball camp at the University of Connecticut. I was not even close to being one of the better basketball players there. It pretty much occurred to me then that basketball was probably not going to be the answer.
When people are springy and fast and you see it live up close, it’s an interesting realization. Football is a hard game, a tactical game, and a physical game. I’m using the word easy in that way but was there something that came intuitively and naturally for you?
Because of basketball, that helped me in football. I had this natural ability to make plays. I had the ability and I knew where to go. When I was on defense, I could always make plays and tackles. Playing linebacker was something that would come naturally to me. I didn’t have the size. I didn’t have a lot of direction. I didn’t have parents that said, “Bill, you can do this. This can be something you can be good at. Maybe you can get a scholarship.” I had no direction that way.
I set a goal when I was a freshman in high school but I didn’t do anything about it. I set this goal. I wanted to pay for my own college. Sitting around the kitchen table, I had 2 brothers and 2 sisters, a big family. Every night, I heard the struggles of how my mom and dad were going to be able to pay for my college. What do you do when you’re a little boy? Starting as early as I can remember to the beginning of high school, what do you do with that information?
It’s not like my parents would be like, “Everything is going to be all right.” I heard these struggles and I wanted to rescue my mom and dad. At the end of the day, I hated seeing the pain that I heard through their voice night in and night out. I wanted to rescue them. I wanted to be the one that would take that pain away from them to where they wouldn’t have to worry about me.
Certainly, not add to it.
I had an older sister and two older brothers and putting them through college was a struggle. Somehow and someway my parents figured out how to do it. I wanted to change that.
You put it out into the universe. It sounds more like an act of prayer than an act of goal at that time.
That’s what it was.
Was it a coach? Was it somebody who was like, “Romanowski, you have some talent.” I understand the desire to go to college but was there also a desire to be like, “I want to be good at football. It’s a vehicle to take care of that.”
I had two options, I was going to go into the service and pay for it that way like my dad did, or it would be through a scholarship. I read an article. I had a buddy, one of my best friends. I’m at his house. We didn’t have Sports Illustrated at my house.
You got to pay for that.
I picked up a Sports Illustrated and Herschel Walker was on the cover. I read this article and I retained every single word of it.
Was he already at Georgia or was he in high school?
He was in Georgia. It talked about how he did sprints and how he ate food. I had a game plan. I started that night doing pushups. I could only do eight pushups, that’s how weak I was. Every single night, I did pushups till I got into college and then I got into a serious weightlifting program. I never missed. I used to hang from the rafters in my garage and do pull-ups. I would do sit-ups. That was my life.
I started eating good food. I didn’t eat junk. I grew up eating junk food, a lot of it, and that changed. I had a coach, Tom Dunn, who was our head football coach, and he told me, “Bill, you can be special. You have that ability.” I never had anybody tell me that. I had one of the greatest dads in the world but he didn’t know how to get a sports scholarship or how to make it in football or any other sport. He told me that and I believed him and he changed my life.
What’s interesting is people don’t realize the teacher or coach. I’ve been in this experience many times myself. There are times that they look at you and tell you something that they recognize about you before you are able to. It is that belief in what they’re saying because you respect them. I feel that’s one of the more interesting and powerful things we can do for each other as human beings.
At the moment, when we’re in the tornado and then there’s someone who’s looking at you going, “You’re going to find your way out of this and it’s going to work out,” it’s the thing that is maybe why we do. Coaches that can do that or teachers or even parents don’t realize, at that moment, how powerful that is. You have a natural gift and you can make plays and you’re probably getting bigger and stronger in your junior year. Are they sniffing around you in high school now? Is it Rockville?
Rockville High School.
Was that a good football school?
It was decent. I started down this path, started getting bigger, stronger, and all those things. In my junior year, we had a senior that was being recruited, Tom Kelleher. All these colleges were coming in recruiting him and they told my head football coach, “We like Kelleher but we like this Romanowski kid. We checked his grades and they’re not where they need to be.” My coach told me this, it occurred to me that I was doing everything.
I was drinking a lot and doing things that I shouldn’t be doing in 8th grade and 9th grade. As soon as I read that article, it stopped. I would go to parties all through high school holding a beer and there’d be that much gone from the beer. I gave it up because I wanted this badly. I put a plan together where I said, “I’m going to spend an extra hour every day on my schoolwork.” I went from being C and a few Bs to straight As and that’s all it took. In senior year, colleges started coming. I had a great year. I took three visits, I went to Notre Dame.
Was it Schnellenberger?
No. Schnellenberger was in Miami because I went to Miami also. It was a guy that coached in Ohio.
Too bad Jimmy Johnson wasn’t at Miami yet.
Here’s what they do, when you go to Notre Dame, they show you a film, Wake Up the Echoes. You see this film and you’re like, “I’m going to Notre Dame.” This was the first time I was ever on an airplane. I get back home to Connecticut and I told my mom and dad but I could sense something, they weren’t crazy about the idea of this. I didn’t understand why, Gabby. I was like, “This is the greatest thing.”
“Notre Dame football program. I’m going to be on TV every weekend. A great school.” Here’s why, they weren’t going to be able to see me play. I went to Miami to go there. I wanted to check out Miami. I had guys doing drugs in front of me. I never even knew what this was. It was a culture shock and that definitely wasn’t for me. My last visit was to Boston College, an up-and-coming program, and an hour and a half away from where I grew up. I saw the difference in my mom and dad.
When you talked about Boston?
This is an interesting point to me. It’s the contrast, no fault of their own, but they’re not saying, “Son, let’s at least have conversations around supporting you through this goal.” Somehow, it seems important that they want to go to these games. It feels like push and pull in there. Even with you, I’ve known you since you were still competing. As a person, the softness, sensitivity, and curiosity of you and then the person on the field that is tough and mean. You’re going to battle. It feels like you have a lot of extreme zones in your life. I’m wondering if, in high school, did you have a natural aggression? As the levels got harder and the athletes got bigger, stronger, and faster, is that something that you developed? Was that also naturally in you?
It wasn’t natural. I had to manufacture that. Here’s what happened to me, I accepted to go to BC.
That wasn’t for you. Maybe it ended up for you.
It ended up being magical but here’s how it went down at this one particular time. I’m a freshman and it’s pretty clear to me that I’m probably going to get redshirted and I’m not liking it at all. In fact, it’s eating at my heart every day for two a day.
Do you think they’re going to redshirt you because you’re a freshman?
We get to a dress rehearsal a week before our first game, I’m there for two and a half weeks. There were two that were going to travel and I wasn’t one of them. We had this dress rehearsal where they put all the guys that weren’t going to travel in a yellow jersey and then all the guys that were going to travel in a maroon and gold jersey. We went to the stadium and they were all on one side. I walked out and they hand me a yellow jersey. I’m standing there with the most pain you could ever imagine. I started crying.
All the other freshmen are talking about the parties that they’re going to. It’s Saturday. I’m bawling my eyes out on the sideline. I had to go up because I didn’t want anyone to see me crying. I looked across the field and said, “I don’t know how long it’s going to take me, a week, two weeks, a month. I’m going to be on that other sideline.” That week in practice, all hell broke loose. I sacked Doug Flutie four times in practice. You don’t do that.
You’re not supposed to.
I got in fights with offensive linemen. I was possessed. They said, “What is wrong with this kid?” In the back of my mind, I was like, “I was in the yellow jersey. You better watch out because I’m coming after you.” That was probably the first time where I had to take my level of aggression to another place. I didn’t have that before. I was naturally gifted and I could make plays. Now, it’s the big boys. We get to the first game, I’m being redshirted, but it’s a home game, everyone gets to dress.
A linebacker gets hurt and I walk out onto the field. My head coach looks at me, “Romanowski, what the hell is wrong with you? Get back.” He’s yelling at me and I’m up and down the sideline. I’m ready to go in, but I’m not. I’ve got it created in my head that I’m going to play and I’m being redshirted. In the second quarter, another linebacker gets hurt. What do I do? I walk out on the field and looked at him, and said, “I’m ready, coach.” He said, “Jesus Christ, what’s wrong with you?”
We go in at halftime and we come back out and we have kickoff. One of the guys that got hurt was supposed to go out on a kickoff. What do I do? I walked back out on the field and my coach looks at me and gives me one of these. He says to me, Romo, you want to run down on kickoff?” I said, “Damn right, I do.” I went in the game. I was supposed to be redshirted.
You’re not scared?
I’m scared to death but I went in and I was ten yards ahead of everybody. I ran through two guys that tried to block me. It was me and the guy with the ball and I launched at them and I missed them. I landed on my head. My coach brings me over and grabs me by the face and says, “Romo, I have never seen anybody run down the field so fast and so hard. Hit the damn guy with the ball. Do you hear me?” I said, “Okay, coach.” It occurred to me, after the game, that I attained my first goal of wanting to play as a freshman.
From that point on, when I showed up in the weight room, when I showed up at practice, in my mind, I was a starter. I wasn’t just playing special teams, I was now not being redshirted. I showed enough that week in practice that this kid is different. Every day, I said, “I’m starting.” Of course, I wasn’t, I was just playing special teams. We get to the fourth game, we’re playing Rutgers. I go in in the second half and I have five tackles.
The next week, we’re playing Army at home. We go to the hotel the night before the game and I wake up and I get a knock at the door at 7:00 AM and it’s my coach, he says, “Romo, you’re starting today.” I shut the door, Gabby, and I started bawling. Every single thing that I’m setting my mind to is happening. I played that game, I have twenty tackles, and the rest was history at that point.
[bctt tweet=”Pushing myself to a place and being able to outperform these 20-year-olds, I took pride in that.”]
Every single time I stepped on the field after that, not only was I a starter but it was time for the next goal, and the only next goal is NFL. Every single day, I was an NFL linebacker in my mind. That’s the way I approached four years of college. I didn’t drink, I didn’t do anything in college. I was so focused. I pissed off our strength coaches because all I wanted to do was live in the weight room and get as strong as I possibly could. After practice, “Romo, we need to go home. We need to see our family. We need to have dinner with our families.” I’m like, “I want to get better.”
First of all, a few people grow up in a home because people are busy and they’re working and they’re trying to provide for their families where they have a lot of bandwidth to have conversations about setting goals or allowing ourselves to win. You’re coming from a place where they’re saying, “How are we going to pull it? How are we going to make sure to take care of everyone?” For a kid, to learn that you can put your mind to something and then achieve it, it’s twofold.
It’s like, “I can have a different life than maybe the people I grew up with. I don’t have to just take what’s handed to me. Maybe if I’m willing to do the work and organize and set up the goals, maybe it’s possible. I can dream.” Let’s use that crazy word, dream. A goal is a dream. Also, giving yourself permission to be a winner. It’s harder if it’s not all around you. You people that try things and it happens. When you start the way you’re doing it, was there a time that you were more surprised, like, “Everyone in my family, I get to do this stuff.” Did you let yourself in the fullest way?
For me, there was still this unknown. I had to figure these things out myself. There was Doug Flutie, Gerard Phelan, Scott, and Mike Ruth. There were a handful of guys at Boston College that had a chance to go more than college and go to the professional, go to the NFL, and go to Canada. I looked at them and I’m like, “What is the common?” Every one of them worked hard, they were good students, and they were good people. I was like, “I want to emulate them.” That was in the back of my head. For me, it was, “How can I outwork every single person at Boston College? How can I will myself to be in the NFL?”
You went in the third round.
Fast forward, I’m at the NFL Combine and there’s Marcus Cotton and all these top recruits from all the top schools. I’m getting ready to run a 40-yard dash, I line up, I look up in the stands, and I see Tom Landry, Don Shula, and Bill Walsh, these legendary coaches. I look at them while they’re saying the name, everyone has a number, “Boston College.” I said to myself, “You got to test for everything here. Do you know what you don’t have a test for? This. I’m going to outwork and I’m going to outperform every single guy in this Combine.” I said that to myself.
I ran the 40-yard dash and it was nothing spectacular. Sure enough, I get drafted by the 49ers. When I get there, I’m nothing special but I wanted to start. I’ve got all these guys ahead of me, Keena Turner, and Todd Shell. Keena Turner was recovering from a knee injury from the previous season. He’s a legend in San Francisco on defense. We have Ronnie Lott and all these guys. We have our first team meeting and Bill Walsh addresses the team and says, “Our goal is to win a world championship and nothing less is acceptable to this organization.” I was like, “Oh my God.”
I’ve never had a coach say, “We’re going to be the best. We’re going to win. No one is going to mess with us.” He said, “Look around you.” I looked to my right and there were Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, and Jerry Rice. We get out to our first practice and Jerry Rice, every time he caught the ball in practice, scored a touchdown.
Every time Roger Craig took a handoff, he scored a touchdown. It didn’t matter if it was 80 yards down the field, they would take off running by themselves and they’d score a touchdown. I looked around and I’m like, “Okay.” What I started doing is I started chasing them. I chased them to the end zone every day in practice. I said, “They’re going to see me on film on how badly I want this.” That’s what I did every day in practice.
If you got guys that are established, are they like, “Get off me.” How do you manage or how do you have the balls to be like, “I’m going to chase Jerry Rice down the field.” Where do you get that chutzpah?
In my mind, nothing was going to stop me.
You don’t care what people think.
I don’t care one bit. I’m so laser-focused on what I want and no one is going to tell me anything. Mentally, at that point, I was going to outwork everybody on the field. I was going to spend more time in the weight room and I was going to spend more time in the film room. In practice, they were going to know that I wanted to play. Todd Shell, God forbid, broke his neck. It didn’t paralyze him or anything but he had a career-ending injury in practice. Keena Turner wasn’t ready.
All of a sudden, I’m next in line and I’m starting for the San Francisco 49ers on defense with all these legendary guys, Ronnie Lott being one of ’em, he was our team leader. We’re playing down here in the Coliseum. This is our first preseason game so back up a little bit. This is something that happened that pretty much stayed with me for the rest of my career. We’re playing the Raiders. In the first preseason game, I get to play the whole second half.
I get Chippy with this tight end and he’s pushing me and I’m pushing him. There’s this one play where he pushes me in the back and I go down and I popped up. I didn’t even realize exactly what happened. Things were happening so fast and just I ran back to the huddle. The next day, in the film room, we’re watching and this shows up on film.
Ronnie Lott, after the play, turned on the lights and told George Seifert, our defensive coordinator, “Turn off the projector.” He walked over to me and he was standing over me and said, “Romo, if I ever see somebody push you in the back and you don’t do something about it, I will personally kick your ass.” He went on to say, “This is a game of respect.” He’s now talking to our whole defense. He said, “If you let somebody punk you and you don’t do something about it, they will punk you right out of this league.” That’s my introduction.
These were things that got folded. I don’t want to say persona, it was a person that you had to develop in order to be able to play this game for sixteen years. It’s interesting because it’s like a switch and everyone is like, “Turn the switch off. Turn it on. Turn it off.” It’s interesting for me that people are like, “It’s perfectly happening when you’re playing the game and you’re making sacks and you’re doing this thing.” They then are surprised that the switch is on, “This is what’s happening.”
I never fully understood how people, who maybe have never played the game, don’t understand what a war it is would be surprised. For example, you have a situation in practice where a guy does something to you in practice, a guy who probably is not going to be on the team and there’s aggression.
As somebody who’s cared about you for a long time, I always thought it was interesting not only the duality but people don’t realize also the cost to you. Not every athlete is like this and not every position, different people, different positions. You used to say that on Thursday, you would maybe start to almost isolate away from your family. At that time, you have a son and a daughter. Everybody knew and you were generating this energy. On Friday, you’re isolating more. On Saturday, you’re pissed off. How was that for you, your teammates, and your family? What was that like?
Early Bill, trying to figure it out, knowing that the more aggressive I could be, the better I could be. To play linebacker in the NFL, I had 320-pound men trying to bury me. At 300 or 240 pounds, I had to match that weight with a certain amount of power and aggression. I manufactured it throughout the week. It took time and I wasn’t all there yet.
In San Francisco, I was around so many great players. I had a work ethic but that’s one thing. The standard of being the best and the standard of always trying to win the Super Bowl was the best teaching I could ever have. It started with Bill Walsh and then transferred to George Seifert. I won a Super Bowl my first year. George Seifert took over and we won the Super Bowl again. I was like, “This is easy.”
You’ve four Super Bowls, which is amazing.
You get drafted and you win Super Bowls.
Most of us don’t have the courage to say, “We want to win.” It’s implied when you do certain things but to be like, “We’re going to do what it takes,” but also, like you said, to have the standard and live the standard, that’s unusual.
I also soon realized how ruthless the game was.
The business side of it.
Steve Young takes over and we get rid of Ronnie Lott, he goes to the Raiders. I did everything my strength coach told me to do and I lived in the weight room but I had no idea what I was doing. I get to my sixth year, I watch myself on film, and I don’t like what I see. I’m like, “I’m slow. I’m not delivering a blow.” I ended up getting traded to Philadelphia.
Rich Kotite, our head coach, brings us all into our first team meeting. He brings us into an auditorium and says, “Our goal is to hopefully make the playoffs this year.” I soon realized what a difference the standard was in Philadelphia versus San Francisco. San Francisco was about being the best and here, it was about hopefully getting to the playoffs.
Did you at all think that you could, as an individual, try to bring in this other idea and influence other players to this new standard? Were you at all thinking?
I brought the same work ethic and I was going to show the 49ers how badly they messed up. I had good years in Philly. I loved Philadelphia. Ray Rhodes took over my second year in Philly and he said, “Our goal is to win the Super Bowl.” In my first year, we didn’t make the playoffs. The second year, we went two rounds into the playoffs and we got beat by the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas won the Super Bowl. The same team, just a different standard.
The kids weren’t born yet, were they?
Dalton was there, he was a little guy.
How do you juggle that at that time? Doing a professional sport is hard. It’s a lot easier when you’re winning or on a good team with good personnel. What do you do? How do you manage dad, husband, and killer warrior? How did you slide in and out between those two? How was that for you? You were pretty young.
I started learning how to take care of my body better. At that point, when I left San Francisco, I was like, “I’m going to show them how badly they screwed up.” I started learning. I started reading a lot. I remember there’s this one book, Optimum Sports Nutrition by Michael Colgan. I was glued to it and I was learning about vitamins, minerals, protein, and different things. I was getting a massage daily.
That started after San Francisco.
I was doing some of it but not to the level.
By the time I met you, and this is something you and Laird have in common, it’s the real curious and scientific approach to your training, to your eating, to your supplementation, to performance, and to recovery. That was a little bit in San Francisco but it geared up a little more in Philly.
It got geared up more as I started learning more and as I started reading more. After my first year of Philly, I started training with an Olympic track coach, Remi Korchemny, and that changed my life.
What did you learn? When you hear running, people don’t realize how technical it is. It’s this notion of striking the ground or whatever the thing is. I’d be curious, what were some of the things that you came away with that you would’ve never known just playing football that a track coach taught you?
I learned how you get faster, you run fast. I know that it’s crazy but I was like, “Remi, we never conditioned. Every strength coach I ever had was about conditioning.” He’s like, “What do you mean we don’t condition? We condition every day out here.” I would warm up for a half hour and then we would run fast.
What does that look like? How many yards?
Sometimes, if we were doing accelerations, it was fifteen. That was an acceleration day.
[bctt tweet=”In my mind, nothing was going to stop me.”]
I’m curious because sometimes I think about this with my own injuries. Laird and I talk about, “We stopped running,” meaning sprinting. I don’t want to run long distances, that’s not good for anyone unless you have bird bones and you’re meant to be a long-distance runner. Sprinting, running, and moving quickly is important even if it’s on the sand. How are you accelerating? Are you lifting your leg? Are you kicking your feet? What is the cue in your mind to make you go faster?
It’s about driving off the ground. You accelerate and then you stay down and then you get into speed where you’ll then come up and you’ll start turning over. I was an athlete but I had no idea how to run fast. I was running against girls like Christy Gaines. I could maybe beat them for 15 or 20 meters or yards. All of a sudden, they’d fly by me and I’m like, “What’s going on here?” I remember Remi asked me and said, “Bill, how much do you squat?” I said, “I don’t squat. I hurt my back in college squatting.” He said, “Everybody squats. If you want to run fast, you have to squat.” I started squatting.
You had given up squatting?
I’d given up squatting. I remember I was all excited one day on the track. I got to the track and I said, “Remi, guess what? I squatted 300 yesterday.” He said, “Good, you squat as much as my girls do now.” That didn’t make me feel good.
They have a lot less distance to travel around.
Here’s what it was, Gabby, it was the attention to detail about everything you do in training. In San Francisco, I loved my strength coach, Jerry Hadaway. Here was his approach, he said, “Do what you like because if you like it, you’re probably going to do it so you’ll do it.” That was the mentality. In San Francisco, it was five of us that went into the weight room.
You were a gifted team.
We were talented but we weren’t super strong. We just had great players. I learned how to run fast. In my second year in Philly, I was the fastest I was ever in my life.
That’s your mid-20s, right?
At that point, 28 or 29 probably. All of a sudden, my career is starting to take off a little bit. That year in Philly, we played the Denver Broncos. Mike Shanahan was the head coach at the Broncos. He came from San Francisco. We were close. After the game, he said to me, “Bill, we’ll talk after the season.” I filed that away. I took a visit there after the season and then I took a visit to San Diego. I was almost going to be a Charger. We had John Elway in Denver and it made sense. I signed there.
In the first team meeting, Mike addresses the team, he says, “Our goal is to win our division and get home-field advantage in the playoffs and the rest will take care of itself.” I’m sitting there and I’m seething inside because I’m like, “Why is he afraid to say Super Bowl champions, the best in the world?” He came from San Francisco. I was new there. This was John Elway’s team. I couldn’t get up and say something right there.
Fast forward that year, Warner Division got home-field advantage in the playoffs and we got our ass kicked in the first round of the playoffs by the Jacksonville Jaguars. I went to talk to Mike after the game and said, “Mike, do you know we attained our goal this year?” He looked at me, like, “What do you mean, Romo?” I said, “This is what you stated for our goal for the year and we attained it.” There was a natural letdown. We had two games at the end of the year that didn’t mean anything. We lost our edge. Jacksonville cleaned our clocks. The next year, Mike addresses the team, he says, “Our goal is to win a world championship and nothing less is acceptable to this organization.” It was music to my ears.
I have a question. You also are an entrepreneur. It’s interesting because of your path in professional football and realizing, “I understand they’re going to have a protocol for me but I’m going to build my own protocol.” You had your own thing, the way you were going to recover, and your own training. At some point, you decided, “I’ve got to figure this out for myself and figure out what’s best for me, where there are holes that I can fill and such.” You turn around and you have a business around supplementation.
I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times, Joe Rogan always talks about you’re the first person to give him neurotropics when you’re talking about NeuroOne. A lot of people have a dream, they’re going to start a business, and they’re not going to play in the NFL. Do you say to yourself or to other people, “We’re going to take this business and we’re going to be X dollars. We’re going to kick ass and we’re going to do this thing.”
Is there at all a time where there’s exploration as you’re doing it? I’m curious selfishly because there’s this interesting thing of being a dreamer and wanting to do something and then you’re trying to be a realist and you’re trying to go based on what’s happening but not be taken down by that. How do you take that same attitude of someone who’s willing to say, “I’m going to be the best.” You did that in sports, you were taught that, and then you had the courage to say that. How does that show up for you in these areas that have different variables and unknown variables?
It’s similar in set goals and work hard but it is also different. It’s not like you can come in and start telling people, “You need to kick ass today.” The stuff that we dealt with in the locker room or on the football field, coaches are yelling. In the business world, it’s totally different. The way I approached my body and the game, I was definitely a visionary. What I did in the ‘90s, they’re all doing this stuff now.
The thing is when we met you, I was like, “Whoa. Romo is sophisticated.”
Nutrition, I had a pill box and was doing different things at the Broncos. They still haven’t caught up to where I was back then. Different things that I would take. I always seem to end up on the banned substance list and I have to stop taking it and I’d move on to the next thing. I’d figure out something that the NFL could not test for.
Was it mostly about recovery for you?
It was so I could train, my body could handle the pounding, and get through it. I had my own coach back in the ‘90s that trained me every day. When I went to Hawaii for the summer, he went with me. I never got on the track and I never went to the weight room where I didn’t have my coach with me.
Was it for motivation and accountability and to push you? Is it both?
It’s that. It was timing everything. I would get a flush. After I would do a track workout, we would have a massage table out on the track. I’d be getting my legs flushed out. The people jogging around the track were like, “Who the hell is this guy getting a massage on the side of the track?” I learned and I applied the different things that I learned from these track coaches and I started applying it.
Winning is fun and it’s an incredible career. Was this always a grind? Was the grind fun for you and playing?
Pushing myself to a place and being able to outperform these 20-year-olds, I took pride in that. I won’t mention any names but I would take guys to come train with me and nobody could hang, “Wait a minute, a 45-minute warmup? I’m usually done with my workout in 45 minutes.” That was my warmup. Usually, I was on the track for 2 or 2.5 hours.
From the track, I’d go to the pool, and then I’d take a nap. Before my nap, I would eat, then take a nap, and then I would go lift late afternoon. My whole day was so structured and it was all about maximizing this. I learned that if you took care of this, I was going to be better. I wanted to be the best I could possibly be.
The average career is 3.2 years or something like that. You played for sixteen.
Even less. Were you playing at the end because that’s what you did? Were you playing at the end for other reasons than for yourself? The last season with Oakland, that’s tough. What had you there at that time?
It was about me and my ego. In football, running out in front of a crowd was a drug. Knowing that you were damn good at something and you loved it and you’re getting paid well for it, there’s no aspect of it. I don’t care if it was the injuries, every aspect of it, I loved. I loved the challenge of it. Having an injury, I was the guy that also had a team of therapists that I would call and would come in and take care of me. There was conflict between my therapist that took care of me and the training room.
The training room is prehistoric. On some level, there are three trainers, a head trainer, and two assistants that have to take care of 50 guys. Are you kidding me? Usually, ice and stim are what they would do for you and some stretching of some sort. It’s prehistoric. I know they had a job to do. One thing I learned is high-performance bodywork is a lot different than what the trainers do and what was going on. It’s catching up now.
Talented guys are still unusual. When you find the magic guys or girls who know what they’re doing, you’re talking about a different ballgame. If you look back, I’m not talking about any specific incidences, I’m talking about an approach, would you have done any of it differently like the way you prepared for games or any of that kind of thing?
When I was in Denver, we were playing Monday night football against the 49ers in San Francisco and I spit in J.J. Stokes’ face. incident and. Would I take that back? Probably. There are other things I would take back. I grabbed a finger at the bottom of a pile when I’m trying to rip the ball out of someone’s hand. David Meggett’s finger, I cracked it like a chicken bone. Am I proud of that? No.
Being on the edge of going 100 miles an hour and teetering between doing the right ethical playing the game and being a good sport versus being a violent warrior. The harder I hit people, the meaner I was, the more cheers, the more booze, and the more money I made, it’s a serious drug. If you could bottle that, I wish I could feel that again.
Let’s talk about that transition. For so long, you start at ten, you have the discovery that you have a talent, you’re in Boston, you win four Super Bowls, you go to five, and it’s a transition time, all athletes go through it. It’s fascinating because it’s all this greatness and all of the celebration. I’ve seen enough people where I go, “In the long run, unless you can transition well and you have other things you can sink your teeth into, it’s almost not worth it.” You then see young adult people, 38 or 40, they’re going to live the rest of their life with the greatest moments. You have transitioned well. How were the first couple of years?
Two or three months out of the game, I was like, “Oh my God.” I cannot believe how bad I felt.
Do you mean your body?
My body. I can’t believe how tired I was. It was like life opened up. I could not take a blow anymore to my head. I was a head hitter. I hit with my head and strike with my head. I wanted to do damage.
How many concussions? Be conservative.
I had twenty documented but probably 100-plus. Getting dinged and being dizzy out on a football field, there’s a concussion. The NFL does these things where they come into a city and they have all the vets in that area, they’ll do a talk, and they’ll talk about concussions and stuff. That’s what they came and said. I went to one in Oakland and I was like, “Every time I saw stars, you consider that a concussion.” The medical guy director who was putting this on said yes. For sure, I had 100 concussions, maybe 200 or 300.
You were on it about trying to figure out how to protect your brain even when you were still playing. When I knew you, I knew that you had an awareness. It feels like that got even accelerated. You were going to be somebody who was going to start understanding. For me, that’s why Neuro was created. It’s like, “I have to protect my head.” Hyperbaric chamber.
I did 120 bouts. Dr. Paul Harch, one of the best in the world with a hyperbaric chamber, I met him after and notwhen I was playing. He shared with me and it was fascinating what I went through with him. I did 40 bouts, 5 days on, and 2 days off. I did 40 straight bouts in the hyperbaric chamber. I would take 2 to 3 months off. I would do another 40 and I did 3 of those.
Did you feel different?
Have you seen Joe Namath?
It’s interesting, I’ve seen a video of him and he did this same kind of protocol and maybe a little more. He seems almost like a different person when he talks.
It changed me and it worked. It was good. It was a lift.
Do you mean as far as cognitive function mood and grabbing words? What was it?
All of the above. When I was in Oakland and when it was going downhill, I left the Raider facility one day. I lived ten minutes from the facility.I could not find my house. What I did is I kept driving around and it eventually came to me. Those incidents were happening a lot. Every time I had a good collision with someone, I was like getting up dizzy. I was being concussed a lot and it was almost like every single game at the end.
I had a bad experience happen in my last game in Denver and I hit Clinton Portis over the middle in the first quarter of the game. I could not stop it but the lights were spinning on me. What I did is I played the whole game squinting. If I squinted, the lights didn’t spin. I played the worst game of my life but I knew right then I couldn’t do it anymore.
In the transition, are you feeling like, “There is more to life.”
It’s like this point when you’re a professional athlete where everything is finely tuned, we don’t get to do that. It does not measure in our lives. Once in a while, I can imagine, in parenting, you have one exchange once in a while and you thought, “I think I got that right.” It’s clear in sports. When you transitioned, what was your plan and then what did you end up doing?
[bctt tweet=”I parented differently than my mom and dad. I probably got a lot of things wrong.”]
As I was saying earlier, I was like, “I feel good.” The first thing I did is I started consulting with Muscle Milk. I enjoyed that. I got good at that. You go into meetings. I could read the room, I knew what people needed, and I knew how I could facilitate things. I did some movies, which was a blast. I also knew being away 3 or 4 months at a time was not good for my young kids. That was a deciding factor on why I didn’t pursue that more.
I left Muscle Milk and started my own nutrition company and that’s where Neuro came, sleep, and lean. I do that every day. I work a lot and I love it and I enjoy it. I love that grind. I like making products that help change people’s lives. My neuro product is a game changer, there’s nothing like it. Within that, you also have to be able to make it to where you can sell it for a decent price. There’s a lot that goes into it.
Nothing like margin talk. I had a conversation with our CMO about our Greens product because we’re trying to democratize health. Because he’s newer, he’s like, “I wish you guys would’ve set the price just a little higher.” It’s an interesting thing. On the business side, what are things, because you’ve been at it a long time, that seems like the valuable lessons that you would’ve whispered into your younger self’s ears?
I would’ve focused earlier on profit. I focused on the top line and I drove the top line. I was good at driving the top line. I would’ve been more focused on profitability and having more money for marketing. That’s happening now. That’s learning. I know what I’m good at. I know I’m good at driving top-line revenue. Worrying about every little detail, I’ve gotten good at that now. In the beginning, I didn’t think about that. I would’ve changed that. I would’ve also given up more equity.
Do you mean to lure some qualified CEO?
To bring in more money. There’s a balancing act between how much equity you have.
Do you want a lot of nothing or a piece of a big thing? You learn that though, don’t you?
Your ego is like, “This is my thing.” It’s like, “No, I’ll take way less for something big.” That’s an important point. How do you go about finding the right teammates in business? This is a big thing. You win in sports because you have good teammates. How do you navigate that part?
By knowing what I’m good at and making sure I have a good balance. Being a visionary, loving the product side, and loving the sales side, but realizing you need great operations, great execution, great finance, and all of that. I have that now but didn’t have that in the early days per se. I would’ve balanced that out sooner. Dealing with retailers is difficult. Retailers don’t want to pay.
Do you ever get your old personality back and go, “I’ll go in and I’ll get our money for us.”
Yeah. I can’t name these retailers but every single month, they take deductions but then they won’t give you a detailed report on why they took them, and you have to chase them for it. That battle alone is in itself. I love online.
You can do the education on what the products are.
You can do a lot more. Nowadays, you can see people walking through retail stores and they’re looking at their phones, “I can get it $5 cheaper online. I’ll do that.”
It was the early 2000s, you used to send Tiger bunches of neuro. He was winning then. It was always funny because I thought, “The neuros are definitely not hurting.” I hate the word anti-aging because it’s like saying anti-gravity. It exists, we’re aging, and it’s part of it. Slow aging, healthful aging, or whatever we want to call it. Are you still practicing hyperbaric now?
I do it.
Is it an hour protocol?
It’s an hour protocol, once a month. That’s maintenance for me.
Keep it. Do you ever have times if you’re feeling stressed out or you’re extra busy or tired that you feel your brain is going, “Hey.” I feel that with stress. That’s why I started micro-dosing. I’ve never been a fun drug person at all. I said that my head started feeling stuck. I couldn’t remember things as well. I was like, “Okay.” It is stress-induced, too much going on. When you get there or you’re tired or traveling with work, do you feel the impact on cognitive efficiencies?
Flying long distances. The next day from flying, I feel that effect. I take a lot of things to sleep.
9 out of 10 people in the US say they have an issue sleeping and 3 out of 10 are either diagnosed with a sleep issue or are taking something a little heavier for sleep.
I do Yogi Sleepy Time Tea.
I can’t believe you can say that with a straight face, Bill.
I take Eckonia cava. I take 5 or 6 Lean1 Sleep. I take Magnesium threonate. I take 1,500 milligrams a GABA every night.
For sleep, I’m either working it all out.
On my tea, I add two droppers of California Poppy drops.
Why are you taking so much time? Why don’t you sleep?
I sleep good.
I know you do because you got Sleepy Time tea. Why were you not sleeping before? What is it?
I’ve always been a good sleeper but when I was at the Broncos, I learned about minerals, and mineral testing. I’ve always applied that. when I started Nutrition53, having a sleep product, having a brain-focused product, and then a shake that will lean you down are the three areas I focused on. I was doing this stuff in the ‘90s. I remember how important sleep was as an athlete. Getting out as someone in their late 30s or into their 40s getting into business, I said, “Sleep is one of the most important things you do.” I need to fuel that.
You’re supporting good sleep and recovery. For my own curiosity, this bigger protocol, if people do have accidents or anything happens, these hyperbaric protocols, the 5 days on and 2 days off, 40 in a row, and then doing 3 cycles, were those also about an hour?
People don’t realize, if they’ve never tried it, you can watch TV. It’s easy. Let’s say you’ve had elective surgery, an athletic surgery, or whatever kind of surgery, that’s also a good way to recover. I got what you got for sleeping. Are there supplements, and you don’t have to get into it but you are such a wealth of knowledge or things that stand up as important for any population to take in supplementation that shows up at least on the stuff that you guys study?
Hormones and stuff for the girls.
D3. There are your staples. Vitamin C is an absolute must. I take 50 to 60 different things every single day, multiple times a day.
Do you still have your box then?
I have four tackle boxes.
You have an AM, afternoon, and a PM.
Is this also because you had to tax your system so much playing football and doing the things that you needed to do to recover and to be strong enough to have the mass that this is the other side of that where you’re having to elevate your system?
I have my brain-focus product, Lean1 Neuro. It was Neuro 1 and rebranded it. I have a number of different brain things that I do on top of Neuro. I started low doses, microdosing, of lithium.
Can people get that?
Yeah, at any store.
You can get some Lithium, really? In a tablet?
Low doses. The studies are unbelievable on lithium. I take phenylpiracetam. I take NAC with glycine. I take SirinI.
Do you put this on your site, Nutrition53?
People are interested in this. One of the biggest concerns people have besides sleep is cognitive capability as they get older. I believe short of something catastrophic, things like Alzheimer’s, and things like that can be completely avoided. They’re saying it’s diabetes 3, chronic inflammation.
It comes with the gut. There’s a gut-brain connection. What I do every single day is I do probiotics twice a day. I do glutamine twice a day. I do fifteen grams of glutamine twice a day and that is to heal the lining of my gut. A lot of people are like, “Glutamine is all about muscle recovery.” There’s something there.
Take it wherever you can get, who cares?
I do it for my gut.
Do you get your blood work a couple of times a year?
Three times a year.
Check your hormones and check things out.
I take testosterone.
You’re still a young pup, Romo. You have two grown children and you’ve been married a long time. I’m curious, what are the lessons? First, I want to talk about being an athlete who has children. This is a selfish que question for me personally. We see talent in our children. Your daughter took on athletics more like you than your son and he did more of his own thing like rock climbing and the creative. As a parent, what did you think was going to happen, and how you were going to handle it? What did you learn was the best way, because that’s a language we speak, wanting that for your children?
I parented differently than my mom and dad. Probably got a lot of things wrong.
That’s the name of the game. When you say that, What did you think maybe you did that then you pivoted and stopped doing or said, “I blew that.”
I’ll give you an example. This is when Dalton was in Piedmont High School. He came down and his jeans were sagging and his underwear was showing and that did not work well with me. I grabbed him by the underwear, lifted him up, and pinned him against the wall. He cried and he got the message. From that point on, he never sagged again. Is it challenging when you don’t have means when you grow up and then you have children that have more than you did?
That’s hard too.
They don’t have the same experience. Parents were crazy. Brody, who you know very well, my youngest daughter, I said something to her about this reality or something, and she goes, “You put me in this reality.” She was 13 when she said that. I thought, “Okay.” She’s like, “How do you expect me to know a different point of view when this is how I have grown up?”
[bctt tweet=”It was the attention to detail about everything you do in training.”]
The most important thing is they need to know how much you love them, how much you care, and that you’re doing your best. I was not perfect but I love my children. I loved being a dad. When I played and I was a dad, was I as good? No. Playing in the NFL took a lot to do. I was not available. Julie took over in that time but I came home every night. I was there every morning. When I retired and was available more, that changed. You also have to understand that your kids have what they think is right and a direction and you try to steer them.
You learn to release a little bit as a parent. Your same curiosity that can talk to me about three tackle boxes of vitamins can be applied when we’re doing something in parenting. When we go into parenting, we have a whole set of ideas. In the act of parenting, we get a reality. Even in you, I don’t want to say letting go, but it’s that allowance and space. They’re going to do it differently than you are. Romo, it’s going to be hard to be your kid in the way that nobody’s probably going to grind at the level that you were grinding and able to grind. It’s an interesting moment when you have to realize, “They’ll do it differently.”
I coached my son in football.
It must have been great for him.
Dalton is a special child but football was not for him. I learned in the first practice, because I coached them, that doing certain drills where you got to come up and smack someone, that’s something you have or you don’t. You can’t coach it. You can’t yell and scream, “Go harder.” That doesn’t work. In football, if you don’t have that, you’re not going to be good in football unless you’re a kicker. He was good at water polo. He had other sports he was great in. He’s a passionate kid. Now, he’s fly fishing. He takes good care of his body. My daughter, the same thing, she had that.
She’s a killer like you. A beautiful young woman.
They’re different. Guide them but let them be.
In a long marriage, there are no books on this stuff. What are the things that have shown up for you? There was the marriage and the football life because that is a special agreement. It’s like, “I have this window to do this thing.” Julie is like, “I got you. We’re going.” There’s this other where even though you’re working hard with your business, it’s a little bit different. What has shown up for you that no one could teach you or your parents couldn’t maybe model that has been a powerful tool for you?
My mom and dad figured it out early. On some level, they could not be separated in any way with us five kids. I never heard them fight once. I never heard an unkind word said. I was like, “You get married and that’s the way it is.”
“Perfect. Leave it to Beaver.” You soon learn, a lot of counseling, and work hard at it every day. That’s a full-time job in itself and you got to have both sides do that.
That’s right. That’s it. It’s like, “We’re making this agreement but I’m not here to enforce your side of the agreement and you’re not here to enforce my side.” We’ll say, “I’m going to show up,” and you say, “I’m showing up. It’s on the other person to do their side. It’s such an interesting dance and the different stages of relationships. It’s like, “You knew part of the relationships. Young children are part of the relationship. Dealing with teenagers is part of the relationships.”
Good times at work and not good times at work. Money is good and money is not good. People don’t realize that the relationship is supposed to bend and flex during all these different personalities getting older and figuring out how to be intimate for years and years. It’s all these interesting nuanced stances that everyone thinks that they’re supposed to know or get it right. It’s like, “Not really.” Love and kindness though is a big one.
Having good intentions, too.
I’m a kind person in general. I was blessed because I had two parents that were kind. The greatest gift looking back and that my mom and dad gave me is they were there. That’s the greatest gift I ever got. For other people that maybe didn’t have that, I can hear, listen, and try to understand.
You can’t relate to that.
I can’t relate because I didn’t live that. I can feel that it must have been hard.
Sometimes you get to a point too and we all have to move on from all of it. That’s what it is. I didn’t have to deal with fear of performance and things like that but you’ve used fear. You’d have moments when you’re going to compete and I would imagine it’s scary. Laird always talks about he uses it to be better, more alert, quicker, and all these things. How was that for you and then how do you do that? In everyday life, maybe you have things that I’m not going to say you’re afraid of but you’re concerned. Where do you put it? How do you manage it?
My fear was fear of not being good enough. I don’t think I feared failure. My mom and dad were great but I didn’t have, in my youth, growing up, a mom that put her arm around me and said, “Billy, I love you so much. You’re such an amazing young boy.” I didn’t get that thing. I had the fear that I got from my mom and dad at an early age.
What I did is I thought at some time having a stadium full of people cheer for me would be enough. There’s not a stadium big enough. You soon learn that until you start being comfortable and realizing you are good enough, there’s no stadium big enough. There are not enough things people can tell you. Through years of NFL and everything that I’ve experienced, I’m pretty damn good with who I am. Do I always want to be better? Yeah. I always strive to be better and work hard. Those things have never left me.
I’m the one who worries about certain things and Laird seems more like, “Everyone’s okay. It’s all okay until it’s not and then I’ll deal with whatever that is.” Do you float through life more on that page?
Probably more like that.
It’s like, “I’m not going to worry about something until there’s something to worry about.” It must be nice.
Guys are problem solvers and we want to fix things. We’re all like that. Women are more worriers and they take on that emotional piece that guys can go there but it doesn’t come natural. I can go there but it doesn’t come natural to me.
It’s a gift not to worry about things that aren’t existing yet. Let’s talk about that. You pay attention, you’re a student of things, training, nutrition, and people who are d administering different kinds of modalities of training. Is there anything you’re seeing or that you’ve been watching on any of the levels of nutrition or immobility or whatever that excites you or you think, “This is something on the more progressive side.”
You have to realize when you break it down. I learned this in the ‘90s working with functional medicine doctors and stuff like that. I learned the most important thing is what you put in your mouth every day. That’s one of the most important things. All the different supplements I take, I feel like it’s working. I hope it’s working. It’s a multivitamin. You take it every day in hopes that it addresses different deficiencies.
My dad passed away but my dad never took a supplement his whole life and he lived to 91. He did everything wrong. I try to do everything right. I say this a lot, “If I die young, I’m going to be pissed off.” I didn’t drink, I didn’t smoke, and I take a million supplements. There are a lot of cool cutting-edge things out there. Everything I come up here, I learn. That’s why I’ve always been attracted to you and Laird.
In the early days of sauna and cold, when you guys first started doing that, I was calling BS on that because I was like, “Wait a minute. The way I did it and the way my track coaches taught me contrast.” It was different and it was so strategic and the Germans did it this way. The Russians did it this way and stuff like that. All of a sudden, I started reading research papers that Dr. Rhonda Patrick put out. I’m like, “Wow.” It hit me how powerful that is. I share that with everyone I meet.
That’s Laird. Laird is like an animal in that way. He listens to how he feels. Sometimes him and I will almost get into discussions, let’s call it. I’m not a measurer but I go, “But for people who either keep them motivated or they’re working on a specific thing, maybe it’s good for them.” He is like, “We should listen to ourselves.” I believe that.
For anyone reading, I’m always a reminder that if you’re going to lift heavy weights, do not ice directly after. Otherwise, 3 or 4 hours away from it. Before heat and after heat, great. That’s the only time that it shows up and that maybe isn’t going to work with your goals is when you ice directly after heavy lifting. With your food, talking about it being so important, you have gone through probably heavy protein and different things. You’re in a gentle eating space right now.
I went hardcore plant-based. I’ve gone hardcore Keto. I balance out Keto. I go a little bit back and forth between a healthy version of keto to where it’s loaded with MCT fats where some of your keto people think, “As much cheese as you want. As much dairy and fat as you want, cream, and butter.” That is not right. Plants are good for you, bottom line. I don’t eat nightshade vegetables. I eat a lot of salad. It’s crazy, when you start eating salad and you start eating a lot of it, you start craving it. My brain works better on keto. Doing that in a plant-based way but I still eat fish and small buy small amounts of meat. I would never eat a big steak. I’ll have a 3 or 4-ounce piece of filet, I’ll do that.
Kelly Starrett says that a vegetarian diet with a condiment of meat is perfect.
I fast. I don’t eat breakfast. I eat lunch and dinner. I have an eating window. I lost probably 15 or 20 pounds.
Can I ask how much do you weigh right now?
I don’t know. I know I’m a lot lighter.
What about your training? Do you still lift a bit? What are you doing?
I swim and lift every day.
I was talking to Chris Duffin. He did over a thousand pounds multiple reps, squats, and deadlifts. He’s a beautiful person. He talked about though also transitioning from when you walk in, like, “You are the big guy.” To them, when you stop reaching for those goals, it’s like, “Get rid of that weight because it’s not good for you. It’s tough on you.” Every time I see you, you’re good. It feels like that part of your persona if you will.
I don’t care about being big at all. I don’t need it. I don’t have to lift a lot in the weight room. It means nothing. Everything I do is for longevity and I focus on that.
Do you do any yoga or meditation or breathing?
I love yoga and meditation.
You do have a reputation for being so intense. I always say it’s interesting for me to hang out with you and Laird because Laird also can be intense. Even when he’s not surfing, he’s intense. He’s stomping around and talks passionately and loud. You’re like, “Doo doo doo.” Laird is like, “He got it all out on the field maybe.” That’s what he used to say when you were playing. I was always interested in that dichotomy.
That’s more of who I am and I’ve always been. To be good at football, I had to learn. I had that dark side and I had a dark side.
You dedicated a lot to that game and the game gave you a lot. Maybe in certain ways, I don’t want to say a little bit of a heart heartache and break maybe with the way certain things went down but is there a part of you that you have peace with? You gave your whole life and dedication to that sport and then by the nature of a few things happening, in a way, it feels a little bit like the sport. I have another friend, Marty McSorley, who played in the NHL. It’s almost like, “You’re part of the family.” Yes and no. I always wondered, for you, if that was okay and that was just part of it.
When I got out, my ego was still strong. in my mind, I was like, “They can handle the truth.” People, the NFL can handle everything I did. In NFL, I gave you my body. Fans cheered and booed and me and all of that. I always wanted to do the right thing. The game drove me and I own every bit of it. I’m not offloading anything. I wanted to be the best on the planet and the only way I could do that is to out-train and outwork everybody. Things that I took were all focused on helping me do that.
What I know what I did helped my body deal with the punishment. There are things I would do differently and I wish I could change it but I can’t and I own it. That’s the big piece, I try to own what I did. I don’t offload or blame somebody. That one could go in a lot of directions there. At the end of the day, the NFL took such good care of me. I was blessed to have such amazing teammates and great organizations to play for and great owners. There’s nothing bad to say.
Sixteen years is a hell of a run, Romo.
I wasn’t a choir boy.
You’re in a violent sport. I always laugh, people are like, “I want you to break records. I want you to be number one. I want you to be fast but please don’t tell me how the sausage is made.” It’s like, “How do you think that gets done?” I don’t mean just in this sport, I mean track and field. How do you get faster?
It’s every sport. Everybody has to go.
[bctt tweet=”I’m so laser-focused on what I want and no one is going to tell me anything. Mentally, at that point, I was going to outwork everybody on the field.”]
We all participate because we say, “We won’t celebrate you just for doing hard work and trying your best. We are going to celebrate you if you are number one.” Let’s be clear culturally what we are telling everyone, which is like, “Work hard. Be your best. Be number one.” It’s a business so I get it. I want to ask you one final question and that is, if you had an invitation for people in the wellness space or the longevity space, what invitation would you make to them that you know would be something that would benefit them, given all that you know? Is it to get sleep? Is it to make sure you’ve got a connection? What’s an invitation from Bill Romanowski who has been at the highest level of performance but has your hands in all of this? What is a universal invitation?
Do you know what one of them is? Cut out sugar, get a good sleep, and work out. You got to be careful with fat. You want to eat good fat. I love supplements. There are staples. I drink olive oil every day.
How much? An ounce, 2, or 3?
I drink probably two ounces.
Yeah. I drink it with my aloe.
What’s happening there? Is it elimination? Is it pretty for your skin and hair? What do you got going?
You cannot believe how good aloe is for you.
Liquid form only?
I do liquid.
Do you keep it in your fridge?
I keep it in the fridge. I drink that.
Is it pulpy or a straight one?
No. It has a pretty good taste with my olive oil and with my glutamine. They’re working out every day.
Aloe in the olive oil is interesting.
You going to try that next, Justin? Justin wants to ask you about the movies.
How’d you get into that? Is Sandler a friend?
When I got done playing, I want to do movies, and I put it to the universe.
You set a goal, Justin.
I got a call from Adam Sandler and he talked about this movie. He was doing The Longest Yard. He says, “Romanowski.” I said, “I would love to do it. I’ll kick ass for you.”
Can you imagine the poor extras that were on that set? They’re like, “Can you tell him that we’re pretending?”
There were some guys I hit. The large man that was in the movie, I knocked him out for two weeks. It was not good.
It’s like, “Pull back.” Romo, I’m looking forward to seeing the continued success of your business and maybe remind people where they can find you or all of these products if they want to learn more. How long has Neuro been around now? It’s a long time.
Since 2007. It was before then.
You get them in white containers. I love those.
Before Neuro 1, it was Neuropath, and then now it’s Lean1 Neuro. It’s Lean1.com.
Do you have new goals? Do you have stuff that you’re driving and striving for right now?
Always. A lot of them revolve around my body and making sure that I’m the best I can be each and every day. By taking care of my body, I can be a good husband, I can be a good dad, I can be a good friend, and a good brother.
It’s a good place to start.
I work at that every day.
Bill Romanowski, thank you for your time.
I appreciate you.
Thank you so much for reading this episode. If you have any questions for my guest or even myself, please send them to @GabbyReece on Instagram. If you feel inspired, please hit the follow button, and leave a rating and a comment. It not only helps me, it helps the show grow and reach new readers.
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About Bill Romanowski
For Nutrition53’s founder Bill Romanowski, performance isn’t just a passion; it’s a way of life. In his NFL career that included an unprecedented 243 consecutive games highlighted by five Super Bowls, he learned firsthand the power of nutrition from the leaders in the field. In his 16th NFL season, Bill’s quest took an urgent new turn: the concussions on the football field had robbed him of his memory. Bill brought together the world’s best doctors, scientists, and nutritionists to arrive at a formulation that would fully restore his mental function. The result was Nutrition53’s and its line of nutritional formula.