The Strangest Pre-Game Meals Athletes Ate

The bodies of professional athletes are finely-tuned athletic machines typically fueled by foods with the highest nutritional value.  They burn a ton of calories, so it makes sense they’d eat well and eat a lot. Some athletes like to eat something a little on the weirder side as a pre-game meal, though. They range from meals containing some junk food to the just plain bizarre.

Here are some of the strangest pre-game meals athletes ate. 

Wayne Gretzky

Dubbed “The Great One,” there’s little debate over Wayne Gretzky’s place atop the list of greatest hockey players of all time. Over the course of his career, Gretzky had 894 goals, 1,963 assists, won four Stanley Cups and appeared in 15 All-Star games. 

As great as he was on the ice, he was weird when it came to what he ate prior to games: Gretzky would consume four hot dogs and drink Diet Coke. Gretzky spent his final three seasons playing in New York with the Rangers. There’s no word on whether he made that choice because of their wealth of hot dog vendors. 

Chad Johnson

The former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver was an electrifying deep threat. During his time in the NFL, he had 766 catches for 11,059 yards with 67 touchdowns. He was also known for his brash attitude and fun celebrations. 

One thing Johnson wasn’t known for? Good pre-game nutritional habits. According to the wide receiver, he ate McDonald’s before every game. Johnson loudly trumpeted his love of the fast-food chain when the Bengals appeared on HBO’s Hard Knocks. Johnson was unapologetic about his habit and still talks about it to this day on his social media sites. 

Sidney Crosby

Sidney Crosby is currently one of the highest-paid and best NHL players – if not the single best one. He has 446 career goals, 776 assists, and has led the Pittsburgh Penguins to three Stanley Cups. You’d think a player of his caliber would have a strictly regimented pregame diet. You’d be incorrect – before every game, Crosby enjoys a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

While the high fructose corn syrup of the jelly isn’t great for you, the protein from the peanut butter and the energy from the carbohydrates in the bread no doubt help him elevate to second gear. 

Peyton Manning

One of the great perfectionists in NFL history is Peyton Manning. His dedication to his craft is legendary, as few players prepared as comprehensively as the Super Bowl-winning quarterback.

So it would make sense that Manning’s pregame meal would be a comprehensive one as well. The issue with Manning’s pregame meal isn’t that the individual items are odd. It’s that they’re a little strange when put together. 

Before every game, Manning ate the following

  • Chicken breasts
  • Pasta
  • Marinara Sauce
  • Baked potato
  • Broccoli 
  • Gatorade

This covers nearly every food group (though there’s no fruit unless you count fruit punch-flavored Gatorade). Rarely do you see the average person at a restaurant order this combination of foods together, but Manning wasn’t your average person. He was a Hall of Fame-caliber quarterback

Brian Urlacher

As a linebacker, Brian Urlacher was known for his cat-like speed and reflexes. He was one of the greatest linebackers to ever play for the Chicago Bears. Based on his sheer athleticism and speed, you’d assume he ate perfectly off-the-field, treating his body like a temple. 

That’s not entirely true, however. Urlacher’s pregame meal consisted of two chocolate chip cookies, which makes Sidney Crosby’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich look like a Cobb salad. The cookies never seemed to hurt Urlacher’s game though. So maybe they served him well as a good luck charm and pre-game meal