Athlete Eats is our periodic column where we speak to professional athletes about their favorite spots to eat when they are in their home city as well as on the road. We also discuss diet and eating habits both during the season and offseason. If anyone knows where and how to eat in the U.S., it’s going to be one of our sports stars.
Today, we are showcasing Patrick Peterson, the Pro Bowl cornerback from the Arizona Cardinals. Peterson is widely considered one of the best—if not the absolute best—cornerbacks in all of football. At 9-1, the Cardinals have the best record in the NFL through eleven weeks, and the Louisiana State University graduate has been a huge part of the equation. Peterson’s leadership and myriad defensive skills have anchored the Cardinals through a variety of injuries on both sides of the ball that would have derailed many teams.
We spoke to Patrick while he was out serving his duties as one of Tide’s Color Captains. Our conversation touched on his favorite places to eat in Scottsdale, Arizona, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Atlanta, as well as what kind of diet he keeps during the season.
How did you get involved with the Tide Color Captain campaign? How has the response been so far this season?
I got involved with the Tide campaign early last year. It was just a new campaign of 32 Color Captains—which is just basically being a photojournalist for their team and showing how they get to defend their “colors” every week before the game. It’s a good way to show the fans what goes on in the locker room right before we put our pads on.Can you give an example?
One of the most important pre-game rituals is paying respect and homage to the legendary players that paved the way for us in this league. Tide recognizes that these legends played a critical role in defining our colors.
This weekend I’ll be recognizing Arizona Cardinals legend and someone that I, as a cornerback, greatly admire—Aeneas Williams. We have something special in store for fans to get them even more pumped up for the big division match-up. So be sure to follow @TideNFL and #OurColors and look out for some exclusive content from me and the rest of the Color Captains throughout the rest of the season that honors the legends that truly define our colors.
What are some of your favorite places to eat in the Glendale/Phoenix area?
Well, I am on a strict diet, but my favorite restaurants here in Arizona are Mastro’s City Hall and Mastro’s Ocean Club in Scottsdale. I love Houston’s. My wife and I just went to this great new restaurant in Scottsdale called Sumo Maya. It’s an Asian/Mexican fusion restaurant and their presentation was just phenomenal.
What about on the road? Are there favorite restaurants in other cities you like to frequent?
Well, I went to school in Louisiana, so last year when we played New Orleans I loved going to all the good spots down there. I love to go to Mother’s. My second favorite city to eat in on the road is Atlanta. I love that Gladys Knight restaurant (Gladys Knight & Ron’s Chicken and Waffles). They’ve got a lot of really good soul food.
You went to LSU for college, were there dishes or restaurants in Baton Rouge that were your favorites?
Well, you know, being in college you can’t really go out to eat anywhere too nice. I used to love Plucker’s and I used to go to Walk On’s all the time. There was also Sammy’s. I ate a lot of bar food. In college it was all French fries and chicken wings as opposed to lobster and all that stuff now.
Well, if it’s good and cheap you can’t really go wrong with that, right?
Yeah, I mean Plucker’s had some of the best chicken wings I’ve ever had in my life.
What kind of diet do you maintain during the season?
I have a personal chef that comes twice a week and cooks meals for me. So, like this week I can only have lobster, chicken and pork chops. Maybe next week I can have ribs and bison. Each week I have an opportunity to build my menu up with whatever my body can break down easier than other foods.
What they do is take your blood and put it through a machine and it tells you what types of food your body likes and what is sort of more difficult for it to process. So, for instance, I found out that my body doesn’t like rib eye steak, so I have to eat bison instead.
My wife is on the same plan as well since it has been so successful.
Are there foods you love that you can’t eat anymore?
I can’t have as much spaghetti as I used to. Spaghetti used to be my favorite. Also I love filet mignon and I can’t have that. Bacon! I can’t have bacon. I love pineapple and watermelon too and I can’t eat either of those. There’s too much sugar. It really comes down to the smallest things.
Is that the same for the offseason as well?
For the first three and half weeks after the season I go back to eating whatever I want. After that, I get back into training so I have to start eating based on my planned diet. Being on the diet makes me feel so much lighter on my feet; it gives me so much more energy and I feel more in tune with my body than when I’m not on the plan.
We’ll finish up with a little football talk. You’ve been selected to the Pro Bowl in each year that you’ve been in the league, but it seems like this year with the success of the team you are getting rightfully noticed as one of the best cornerbacks and players in the league. How has that felt for you?
I’ve definitely noticed it, but at the end of the day I just want to be the best player I can be to help my team win ballgames. That’s why we play the game—you want to put yourself in a position to make great plays and put your team in a position to succeed. We have a lot of guys on this team that are capable of being the best at their position, but we all respectfully know our role on this team and know what it takes to win a close ball game on Sunday.
This past week, you locked down Calvin Johnson, perhaps the best wide receiver in the league, what is it like going against a guy like “Megatron”? How do you approach that kind of challenge?
In terms of my preparation it’s not any different. I mean, I’ve played Calvin before over the past three years so I’m familiar with his game. But his game plays right into my hands—we both love to be physical; we both love that part of the game. It’s always fun going up against Calvin. And I have so much respect for the guy. He definitely brings the best out of me each time we face each other.
When I see the Detroit Lions on the calendar, I definitely circle that game because I know I’m going to get a lot of work that day.
This has been a difficult season with all of the injuries the team has faced—especially to your quarterback, Carson Palmer. How has the team managed to stay focused and maintain the best record in the league?
Because we understand that these kinds of things happen during the football season. You have to be able to handle these situations when they appear and our coaching staff has been doing a great job of preparing us for the event that something will happen—and people will get injured in football. You have to make sure that your backups are just as prepared as your starters in case their number is called.
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