EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Geoff Schwartz doesn't know exactly how many calories he consumes in a given day, but it's a lot, because the New York Giants guard is 6-foot-6 and officially listed at 340 pounds. Someone that size has to eat a lot simply to make his body work, let alone fuel it to play professional football.
But Schwartz isn't playing football right now, as he's on short-term injured reserve due to a toe injury. And so, as one of the few Jewish players in the NFL, he is not planning to eat anything at all between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday in observation of Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement.
"If I was playing, I wouldn't fast, because I've got to be able to fuel myself to play," Schwartz said Wednesday. "But it's not that tough, really. I'll eat dinner at 5:00 Friday, then I'll go to services and I'll just basically miss breakfast and lunch Saturday. I get grumpy, sure. It's not the most fun 27 hours or so. But it's worth doing."
Schwartz was raised in a conservative Jewish household. His parents didn't allow him or his brother, Mitchell (who plays offensive line for the Cleveland Browns), to play football until they were 13 and were finished with their Bar Mitzvah studies. Schwartz has invited college and NFL teammates to celebrate Hanukkah with him during the season. And yes, this time of year, he does his best to observe the high holidays.
"Yom Kippur, everyone's in services and you're all hungry together," Schwartz said. "Everyone's just miserable, but that is the point. You want to feel that way."
Schwartz said his normal breakfast is an omelette with cheese, onions and turkey sausage, and that he eats protein and vegetables for lunch. He also mixes in a few smaller "grazing" type meals during the day that he'll have to skip Saturday. And he won't drink anything, either. Even water.
"The worst part for me is the no water," Schwartz said. "I drink a gallon of water per day. So that's the tough part, wanting to take a sip of water."
Schwartz said he fasted on Yom Kippur starting after his Bar Mitzvah and throughout high school. He wasn't playing on the team when he was a freshman at Oregon in 2004, so he fasted that year too, even though the Ducks had a game that night. He said he remembers feeling sick that night because he hadn't had any water. He didn't fast on Yom Kippur in any of the following three years, because he was training for and playing in games. And he hasn't fasted on Yom Kippur as an NFL player except in 2011, when he was injured and missed the entire season.
This year, Schwartz isn't eligible to return from injured reserve until Week 9, so he'll have plenty of time to refuel after Saturday's religious observance. But he's been through this before, and he knows how to handle it.
"The key is not to eat too much Saturday night when you break the fast," Schwartz said. "Because then you get really sick."