Tom Peck: Stuff this healthy diet – American dreams are made of calorie-rich Baconators. Just ask the success-starved Washington Redskins

Washington one of the first NFL teams to take diet seriously; but they've lost four in a row

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The Independent Online

The Baconator, according to its maker, US fast-food chain Wendy’s, is “not just a sandwich, but a bacon lovers’ dream”. It’s also 940 calories, around half a man’s recommended daily intake in a single sandwich.

But in a moment of very un-American marketing modesty, what it doesn’t mention is that the half-pound sandwich, with added American cheese, is such stuff as American footballing dreams are made on.

Until last season, Washington Redskins tight end Niles Paul would regularly call by Wendy’s to collect at least one such item on his way home from training. Then the team brought in one of the American capital’s best known fine dining chefs, Jon Mathieson, to transform the canteen. Now Paul and his team-mates eat baked chicken, rice and black-eyed peas. And they have lost their last four matches in a row, with only a solitary win from six all season.

This weekend in Washington is  “Alumni Homecoming Weekend”, when the Redskins play in retro kit and their glorious veterans are paraded before the game. The men who won three Super Bowls in the 1980s and early 90s, eating Maccy D’s at lunch, smoking cigarettes and drinking large amounts of whiskey.

Though the sport leads where all other sports will follow in terms of global expansion, in diet it lags behind. The Redskins are among the first to suddenly take it seriously, and the results are woeful. How depressing it must be to deprive oneself all week and get destroyed at the weekend anyway.

The Redskins canteen is an extraordinary operation. Mathieson arrives by 5am, and by 6am his machines are in motion, churning out 12 stone or more of chicken and fish. After training, players find “recovery smoothies” waiting for them outside their lockers, which are probably not what they want to see at the end of another comprehensive drubbing.

One of the stories told about Harry Redknapp’s instantly rejuvenating arrival at bottom-of-the-league Tottenham in 2008 was that he plonked a bottle of ketchup on the table and told them: “You can eat what you like”. In the interest purely of science, this column wonders if, for one week only, the poor Redskins might bring back the Baconator.

What is the worst that can happen?

Bring on the Ebola-safe non-contact gridiron game

With an average weight of around 22st 7lb, the Redskins’ offensive line is almost a full stone lighter than the Dallas Cowboys, but that’s before the men from America’s Ebola capital have started haemorrhaging their internal organs.

Such is the irrational fear engulfing the US of a disease that has thus far claimed a solitary life in a country of 319m that the New York Giants have been issued fear-abating guidance by NFL officials ahead of their game in Dallas this weekend. It consists chiefly of the fact they are statistically more likely to ditch in the Hudson River shortly after take-off than to return with the dreaded disease. In a bit of gentle joshing, Giants owner Steve Tisch claimed the poor Cowboys “are going to get it first”, which would, he said, “be to our advantage”.

Perhaps, but only in the short term. Not even Joe Montana’s 49ers managed to win a game without making any contact whatsoever with the opposition, and the line of scrimmage could hardly be a more perfect environment for rapid virus dispersal, transforming the once mighty NFL into a tragic zoo of coughing, sweating panthers and lions and jaguars and eagles and ravens and seahawks and dolphins and all the others we can’t remember.

So far, the league’s guidance has stopped disappointingly short of recommending fully non-contact football, which would have been quite the spectacle.

This column hopes that, before long, in the world’s great incubator of commercialised hypochondria, Ebola-friendly gridiron will become a reality. The offensive lines crashing into one another in their anti-contamination suits, the wide receivers set off on a mad dash down the line, frantically applying the hand-sanitiser before the football can land in it, those jumping high 10s outlawed. If it could happen anywhere, it could happen there.

Albanian drone showed United fans a better way

Many a football fan will have looked on in horror at the unpleasant scenes unleashed on Serbia’s terminated match with Albania by the arrival above the pitch of a flag-dangling drone.

This column is particularly sad, though, not to have been in the company of whoever met the rather exorbitant costs of flying the “Moyes Out” light aircraft over Old Trafford near the end of last season. As United may well find out over the coming months, the most expensive solution is not necessarily the most effective.