No matter how you slice it, life is getting prett-ay, prett-ay good for Mac Jones right now. He got drafted by the team he always wanted to play for (that also won their first Super Bowl when he was a wee lad of 3 years), his 2021 New England Patriots have proven they can hang with just about anyone after a brutal 1-3 start, and Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels seem to be letting Mac cook just a little more every weekend. Not to mention what surely would be kind of satisfying - watching everyone who said you were a high-floor but ultimately low-ceiling prospect whose best-case scenario might be Chad Pennington or Kirk Cousins admit “huh, seems like he’s actually kinda good, huh?”
The highest-graded QB since Week 5— PFF (@PFF) November 4, 2021
Mac Jones - 90.0 pic.twitter.com/xatb2rOWoP
.@Patriots @MacJones_10 has everything you are looking for in a top flight QB. His composure and accuracy are beyond reproach. “Tabula Rasa”. He cleans the slate every play; onto the next play. Some of these games are going to go the #Patriots way soon. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/GXa5EIPoR7— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) October 18, 2021
Then, right before Halloween, Mac was asked on WEEI about his pre-game meal, and the answer’s about as much of a polar opposite of Tom Brady’s diet as you can get: red meat, carbs on carbs, tomatoes, and....eggs.
Mac Jones' go-to pregame meal (as explained on @MerloniFauria):— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) October 25, 2021
1 p.m. game, 4 p.m. game, primetime game -- doesn't matter.
"I've eaten that at 6 in the morning before."
“It’s always the same thing regardless of the kickoff,” Jones said. “Same thing in college. Just getting into a routine. I’ve eaten that at six in the morning before 11 o’clock games in college. It’s just part of the routine that I’ve gotten into. It just kinda gets your mind ready. It’s nothing crazy. I think it’s a pretty simple meal.”
The “college” part of that answer certainly seems to check out. If you were making a list of the weirdest/most cobbled-together stuff most of us ate in college, that probably wouldn’t even crack the top 20.
Besides, Tom Brady said he once ate nachos, a ham-and-cheese sandwich, and onion rings washed down with orange soda before a game his rookie season. Mac’s diet is practically the food guide pyramid from the back of Honey Nut Cheerios boxes back in the day by comparison.
So, as a huge fan of food challenges that push the limits of the human spirit, like 14 straight hours of unlimited TGI Fridays’ appetizers, 10 pounds of pasta while armed with the Olive Garden Pasta Pass, and testing just how Endless the Endless Shrimp at Red Lobster really is, just taste-testing Mac’s game-day cuisine was....kind of boring, right?
There had to be some way to raise the stakes, something to put some skin in the game besides potentially falling asleep on the couch with college football blasting on the TV in the background.
So we went with the closest way to battle-test the Mac Jones Special that I could think of. Any high school track veteran remembers the glorious pasta parties and carb-loading before a meet, and as it happens, your writer’s been training for a marathon race since roughly the All-Star Break. Saturday’s long run happened to be relatively light compared to the last few weeks: 17 miles.
Challenge accepted. Let’s get cooking.
In the spirit of the experiment, I tried to shop like a 23-year-old college graduate that was going to keggers 8 months ago, instead of a washed dude that’s Julian Edelman’s age trying to squeeze one last athletic endeavor out of his chicken legs. So don’t get on me about how that’s actually not REALLY what Italians use on spaghetti or the steak not being free range grass-fed. Also, 24oz of T-bone may be a little excessive, but hey, what’s the point in doing athlete stuff if you can’t use it as an excuse to eat whatever you want and just assume the calories will work themselves out?
Time to break out the cast-iron skillet for this big-ass hunk-o-meat:
...and also time to observe the time-honored college tradition of using the same seasoning for scrambled eggs as you do for pretty much everything else.
If you do the math, 3 eggs at approximately 6 grams of protein each, plus, and this sounds ridiculous, the USDA says a pound and a half of steak is somehow worth 100 grams of protein (?!), so suffice to say there’s certainly enough protein in there to fuel massive gainz. Or plenty to keep a 6’3’’ 213-lb quarterback and a 5’ll’’ 170lbs-soaking-wet football blogger fueled up for the day, at least.
Don’t worry, the steak’s done medium-rare, the only way any civilized person with good taste consumes delicious, delicious steak.
Again, in the spirit of the exercise, like Mac said about eating at the crack of dawn at 6am, generally for an early game you’d assume QBs are eating bright and early, so while I refuse to wake up that early on a Saturday morning unless there’s a flight or a tailgate involved, I put the whole shabang down around 11:00 and let it settle for a bit. Like when your parents made you stay out of the pool for half an hour after eating, which turns out to be more of an old wives’ tale than anything, but still. You get the idea.
Clean plate club!
Fast forward through a few games of Mariokart and the copious amounts of stretching required for athletic activities after you’re on the (Chris Farley air quotes) WRONG SIDE OF 30, and we were ready to go. Fortunately, the football gods cooperated and didn’t rain on me for 2 hours for a change:
Fortunately we have a lovely day for some running today pic.twitter.com/6LlH2mPCBO— Goose (@GooseOnBass) November 6, 2021
For receipt-keeping purposes, here’s what the FitBit tracker read before the run:
I gotta tell ya, the first several miles were....not great. It went down something like this:
Mile 1: slight cramp on the right hip. No problem, just run through it. Right? It’ll go away. Probably just a lot of food sloshing around down there.
Mile 1.5: NOPE. This cramp’s here to stay and it’s here to PARTY. Like the kind of cramp that feels like somebody stuck one of those butterfly knives from 80’s crime movies directly above your hip bone. We all know some kid that had one in 8th grade. Probably from the booth at the Big E that sold ninja swords and stuff or something.
Mile 2: there is still a lot of food sloshing around down there and now the cramp has moved from the right hip to the left. Nice of it to even everything out, really. Basically the same as the Black Knight getting both his arms chopped off. Unsure if this is progress, or just an omen for the remaining....15 miles.
Mile 3: cramps are gone, but now there’s a whole plate of spaghetti, 3 eggs, and 24 oz of steak rapidly expanding in my tummy, in the food-baby sense of the word. This is how they tell us seagulls explode from people throwing rice at weddings. At least it’s still easier than doing yoga.
Mile 4: We’re hitting some hills now and the old cross-country guy in my brain always wants to not fall into going too slow, which is in direct conflict to any sort of long-distance running experience that tells you “don’t burn yourself out when the course isn’t even 1⁄4 over”. Passed an older gentleman out in the yard gardening. Old people LOVE gardening. He probably thought “good lord this kid’s moving slow, he must’ve gotten into the sauce last night!”. He would not be wrong.
Miles 5-10: Feels like the digestive system has finally caught up with getting 1,000+ calories and a pre-workout supplement dropped in it first thing in the morning. It’s certainly keeping me fueled up, while also making for some extremely interesting and/or fiery burps. Especially when you factor a strawberry-lemonade-flavored pre-workout into the mix. Gotta say, I’m not sure how Mac does this every week without popping a Tums or something.
Somewhere around here: I’m not really sweating, cause it’s that kind of warm sunny day that’s still maybe 59 or 61 degrees tops, but I’m definitely starting to stink. Usually at this point in a half-marathon, you’re only a mile or two from the finish line, so if you just double up on whatever your normal deodorant amount is on race day, you’re all set. For some reason on most of the 15+ mile training runs this year, though, I’ve learned it’s best to leave your run gear on the back porch for a while after you get back, lest the CIA pay you a visit for having chemical weapons in your home.
Mile 12: Oh god, is that growling in the digestive track....an incoming poop? It can’t be. Between the preworkout right before the run and the usual 3 cups of coffee to start the day, I’ve already pooped twice since 9:30am. What could possibly still be left in there?? HAVE THE GODS NO MERCY??!!
Mile 12.5: False alarm. You want to really get your adrenaline moving, try the thrill ride of running on well-lit, busy streets lined with a 33/33/34 split of business, residential, and a city park. You never trust a fart, especially on a distance run where you’re literal miles from the nearest restroom. The moment it passes, though? Relief unsurpassed except maybe passing Calculus on your first try.
Mile 13: back to where I started in the park by my house, time to hit a few trails in the woods and put a bow on this thing. At this point an average NFL player burns roughly 880 calories per hour in a game; as you’ll see by the FitBit-machine in a second, by the time I finally clock 17 miles, it’s......more than that.
Mile 14: this is where you start to appreciate all the dumb stretches your coach made you do in high school. The high-knees, the twists, the lunges, the leg lifts....well, maybe not the leg lifts, those can still go to hell, but the rest are worth their weight in gold when you’re pounding your knees nonstop for multiple hours at a time.
Screw it, let’s just cut to the good part: what’s that thing we always say around here? Do your job, right?
Did my job.
17 miles completed, 2100 calories burned, and a cool 9:34 mile pace. Definitely not going to qualify for the Boston Marathon anytime soon, but hey, this is a completion-grade, pass-fail endeavor. Much like Kenny Powers, we’re not trying to be the best at exercising.
All in all, though, Mac’s pre-game tradition was....surprisingly effective? Between the carbs to burn and 100+ grams of protein to stick to your ribs, there’s definitely far worse meals I’ve eaten before hitting the pavement for roughly the same amount of time as it takes to watch Dune. I’ve definitely eaten stuff that felt like it burns cleaner, too, but compared to some Saturdays when you wake up with a physical need for Chick-Fil-A and then realize you’ve got a long day of double-digit mileage running ahead, the Mac Jones Special certainly gets the job done, if admittedly in a manner that feels like you housed a whole large Domino’s pizza by yourself at first.
The only caveat, though, is unless Mac is a spaghetti-and-butter kind of guy, all that tomato sauce rumbling around in my tummy had me thinking, that man has to be hoping the first play of the game isn’t a shotgun snap that ends in him taking a Joey Bosa shot in the ribs. Cause that would be the kind of gurgles in your stomach that, speaking of college, most of us probably remember not-so-fondly from Sunday morning waking up at the crack of noon. Even Homer Simpson might cringe at some of the burps that were burped after this breakfast of champions.
Nonetheless, mission accomplished, and Mac’s breakfast is also an excellent case study in how the only limit on what constitutes “breakfast” is your imagination. I mean, just look at the Irish.
Now all we need is for Jones to drop his favorite cocktail recipe so we can, um, field-test that too.