DAVIE, Fla. -- Griff Whalen of the Miami Dolphins is the consummate NFL underdog. He is a smallish receiver at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds. Whalen also went undrafted out of Stanford and had to fight for a roster spot in each of his four pro seasons.
Whalen says he must use every advantage he can get, which is why, two years ago, he decided to go on a vegan diet, eschewing red meat and seafood. It is part of Whalen’s goal to extend his NFL career and get an edge on his competition wherever possible.
“It doesn’t matter how hard you train, there’s a certain limit to how much you can do on the field or in the weight room,” Whalen said. “After a point, nutrition plays a huge part in how quickly you can recover, how hard you can push yourself the next day, back-to-back days and stuff like that. I feel like it’s helped me tremendously and given me a big edge in that regard.”
What is a typical day of meals like for Whalen?
“Breakfast is like an oatmeal, fruit, and whatever else I want to throw into it,” he said. “And then lunch and dinner, a rice-and-bean kind of dish is pretty typical. Lots of veggies. A salad. I make a lot of smoothies because I can just throw greens and fruit and stuff in there. But rice and beans or lentils, stuff like that is pretty common for me.”
After four seasons in Indianapolis, Whalen enters Dolphins training camp this year once again in a battle for a roster spot. Starters Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker are locks. Four-year veteran Kenny Stills and rookie third-round pick Leonte Carroo also will make the team. That leaves Whalen, Matt Hazel and rookie Jakeem Grant in a three-way battle for likely two roster spots this summer.
Whalen has 45 career receptions for 487 yards and three touchdowns with the Colts. Helping his cause is his potential to contribute on special teams, where he has 71 career kickoff and punt returns.
Whalen said it hasn't been hard to maintain his playing weight despite his diet. He started organized team activities at 195 pounds and said he dropped to 190 after recent workouts and practices.
Whalen says his plant-based diet has sparked curiosity among his Dolphins teammates.
“When we sit down at lunch, it’s hard to not notice that all I’ve got is veggies on my plate. So yeah, it comes up all the time and guys are genuinely interested,” Whalen said. “[They ask] ‘Why do you do that?’ And I kind of explain. I don’t go out of my way to try and convince anybody that that’s what they should be doing, but I explain some of the research I’ve come across and how I felt doing it. But yeah, it comes up pretty frequently, and I pretty much hear like ‘Oh, that’s really cool, but I could never do that.’ I hear that all the time.”