Bill Curry spent decades in football.
First, he played a dozen years in the NFL, mostly for the Green Bay Packers, including their Super Bowl I victory in 1966, and the Baltimore Colts. Then, he coached 20 more years at Georgia Tech, Alabama, Kentucky and Georgia State.
All the wear and tear of playing was “very destructive” to his body, Curry says. He had five shoulder replacements, a knee replacement and other surgeries.
Now 75, Curry is in good health and strong. He stays active as a speaker on diversity and inclusion. And he stays fit by lifting weights three days a week and walking at least two. He wants to stay strong and agile to prevent falls and to maintain general health, and because it makes him feel good.
“I’m going to keep doing those things as long as I can,” he says. “I’m trying to keep my body in reasonable shape. Weakness and balance go hand in hand.”
Played for Dodd, Lombardi
Curry played center for Georgia Tech from 1962-64 under Coach Bobby Dodd. He was drafted in 1965 by the Green Bay Packers, and the team won the first Super Bowl in 1966 under Coach Vince Lombardi.
An injury ended his career in the 1970s. As Curry puts it, “My knee exploded.”
A period of self-pity, lethargy and obesity followed. He’d been frail after an injury before, and now he was fat – but still in his early 30s and increasingly unhappy with how he was living.
One day he decided to go for a run.
“I ran for eight minutes and I was on my knees gagging,” he says. “This little voice inside my head said, ‘You’re going to die, and it won’t be long.’”
That’s when he got serious about returning to a healthy lifestyle.
Some 40 years later, he’s not allowed to run anymore, or to lift weights above his head.
“But I can walk and ride a bike, and do leg presses at the gym, and keep my hips strong and all through my core,” he says. “You’re never so old that it’s OK to be weak.”
A different motivation
These days, Curry’s not trying to make a starting lineup, win a championship, or impress anyone. He loves being healthy, going for walks with his wife, and staying strong so he stays safe. His seven grandchildren and speaking engagements keep him busy and motivated even more to be fit enough to continue living the way he wants to live.
Here are Coach Curry’s top five tips for healthy living at this stage of life.
- Don’t give up on yourself and God, whatever that means to you.
- Talk to your doctor about exercise, including strength training and getting your heartrate up on a regular basis.
- Find something that you enjoy so that you’ll be more likely to stick with it.
- Eat properly so you can maintain lean muscle mass – to stay strong and to avoid becoming overweight.
- Get the proper amount of rest every night. “You find out what you need and, by golly, stay in bed till you get the rest you need.”
Those are good tips for anyone.