James Brown had tried almost everything to lose weight, including “some of the strangest food combinations around,” such as grapes with hamburgers and watermelon with oatmeal.
But last fall something finally clicked, and it was not just a dietary program he said “emphasizes organically clean supplements in the weight reduction phase.”
Brown, the host of CBS’ “The NFL Today,” asked his colleague, analyst Bill Cowher, how he has managed to maintain a healthy weight in the decade since he stopped coaching.
“The best thing he did, which shows his understanding of people and coaching players, was he simply looked me in the eye and with no condescension or anything intended to offend me, he said, ‘You know what to do,’” Brown recalled on Wednesday during a promotional shoot for the show in Manhattan.
“That spoke volumes. ‘You know what to do.’ . . . I didn’t want to disappoint him during the season where he sees I’m making progress and then I fall off the wagon.”
Brown, 66, who said he stands 6-4 ½ to 6-5, weighed 292 pounds at his peak early last fall. By April, he was down to 218, so thin that his wife, Dorothy, told him she would prefer he put back some weight.
By this week he was up to 238, but he said he felt best at the lower weight and plans to return to 220. Wednesday, while others in the cast and crew ate boxed lunches with sandwiches, cookies and pasta, Brown had a special-ordered salad.
“I was very, very impressed,” Cowher said of Brown’s disciplined weight loss. “The way J.B. approached this was one of determination and focus and yet he never deviated on his job. It wasn’t like it changed him. I watched a guy get more determined the further he was into it.
“I was so proud of him for what he did. I didn’t want to say anything until he was done, because when you’re in the middle of something you don’t disrupt it. But I thought what he was doing was awesome.”
Brown added to the degree of difficulty by starting his regimen during the football season, his busiest time. By late in the year, some viewers were starting to notice the difference.
“Last season I got a lot of tweets; people were asking me, which was really kind of nice, ‘J.B., are you sick? Do we need to pray for you?’” he said. “I told them, ‘No, it’s by design.’”
Brown said with the extra weight he noticed himself “huffing and puffing” simply walking up and down the stairs at his home near Washington, D.C.
“I’ve got four young grandkids, ages 3 to 9, and I wanted to be able to be strong and healthy and have a little bit of stamina with them,” he said. “God gives us the temple to take care of. I wanted to be as strong a temple as possible to do whatever his task is and his mission for me.
“So when I dedicated it to that purpose — I’ll be healthy for my show, my colleagues, my wife, my grandkids — you know what, it worked.”