Donald Penn And The Rubber Shirt

July 24th, 2012

Tampa Bay Times Bucs beat writer Rick Stroud says Donald Penn doesn’t play well when he’s too fat.

Per Stroud, “not coincidentally” Penn had a bad December last year because he wasn’t required to weigh-in for team officials during that month.

How Stroud is sure that scale anxiety and fear of a small fine is enough to screw Penn up on Sundays is a mystery. Perhaps Stroud has a medical degree?

Here’s what Stroud penned the other day:

Once the games start, [Penn] has to be no more than 330 pounds to receive his money.

Coaches say he ballooned to 360 pounds at times last season, his sixth in the league. Mindful of an upcoming weigh-in, he would wear a rubber shirt under his jersey during practice. Some claimed the routine made him irritable and dehydrated and likely affected his performance on Sunday.

It’s unclear if or how many times he failed to reach his weight limit. By agreement, he doesn’t have to step on a scale the final month of the season. Not coincidentally, that’s when he played his worst football in 2011.

Against Jacksonville Dec. 11, he allowed a first-half sack to Jaguars defensive end Jeremy Mincey that resulted in a Josh Freeman fumble, which was recovered for a touchdown in a 41-14 loss. Freeman was harassed all day, sacked three times, and threw two interceptions as the Bucs turned the ball over seven times.

Sorry, but this all doesn’t make sense to Joe. If Penn has to weigh in at 330 to avoid a fine, then what the hell good is a rubber shirt going to do for him if he weighs 360? 

And if we’re to believe Penn was cranky and dehydrated during, say, a Wednesday padded practice with his rubber shirt on, was that somehow going to affect him all the way to Sunday? That’s ridiculous.

Penn has made 76 consecutive starts. He’s durable. He’s done great things on the field. He’s fat. So what.

Joe really doesn’t buy that Penn’s weight is an issue in his performance. Though it might hurt his durability long term if he can’t get it under control.

47 Responses to “Donald Penn And The Rubber Shirt”

  1. Travis Says:

    Stroud is right, Penn got massive at the end of the year, and his play sucked bad. He gave up a ton of pressures and sacks at the end of the year. (Joe noone buys into your “everyone gave up, so Penn did too” theory).

  2. Andrew Athans Says:

    “And if we’re to believe Penn was cranky and dehydrated during, say, a Wednesday padded practice with his rubber shirt on, was that somehow going to affect him all the way to Sunday? That’s ridiculous.”

    You really need to look at the big picture. Ask anyone who has played in the league or knows the league its all about how you prepare the week before the game. If you cant practice correctly during the week before you have a huge leg down come sunday.

  3. Bobby Says:

    Penn must be like women who cope with depression by eating ice cream and chocolate. There were probably a lot of Bucs fans who gained 20 lbs last year during the 10 game losing streak. Actually, I found it hard to keep food down…..

  4. GOBuxGo Says:

    Hey Joe if I’m not mistaken the “rubber shirt” is to induce the subject into a profuse sweating frenzy, akin to a pop Warner coach making his heavies do conditioning with garbage bags on under their pads. Miserable way to cut weight on a short schedule.

  5. below me Says:

    whatever the reason, I tired of seeing him pack peddle then fall back on his huge arse.

  6. Dano Says:

    I would be shocked if Penn becomes obese this yr under Schiano. From the spring pictures I saw,he looked like he’s down to his required weight (330lb).
    I like how Penn plays at his Fat weight not his Obese weight.

  7. Bucnjim Says:

    Having been an athlete who struggled with some weight issues; I can tell you from experience that there is no way he was playing at his peak if he was @360 lbs. Some athletes are bigger and can handle the extra weight, but he already had extra weight @ 330lbs. What it really effects is your stamina. Your heart cannot handle being this heavy (especially in the Florida sun) and still keep up with these very athletic LB’s & even D lineman.

  8. Bulldog Says:

    5.50 sacks allowed in 2011 and Pro Bowl. ?

  9. Greig Says:

    It’s fairly obvious what the rubber shirt did and how it reduced his weight.
    If he wore it during practice it would lock in body heat and thus make him sweat more, the more he sweats fluid out of his body the less he would weigh, that would also cause him to dehydrate.
    Anyone who has followed MMA fighters knows this is a common way to cut weigh for the weigh ins.

  10. SeminoleSam Says:

    No way you cut 30 pounds from a rubber shirt practice midseason. Didn’t Raheem complain about not having padded practices because of the new CBA.

    Penn’s always fat and almost always damn good.

  11. Vic Says:

    If Penn was such a slobbering, blubbering clown trending downhill, they would have drafted Matt Kalil.

  12. Captain Stagger Says:

    Our old wrestling coach had us vacuum the school wearing wetsuits….,

  13. Brad Says:

    Why is Stroud spewing all this negativity and bringing up crap from last year? Better yet Joe, why are you posting his crap? His articles are as lame as his radio show.

  14. ClayBURN94 Says:

    @captain stagger. Was your wrestling coach Jerry Sandusky?

  15. raphael Says:

    It was Embarrassing how the guy looked on the field at times last year. falling down, getting turned around. The Patriots DE made him look like “Ned Beatty in the movie deliverence”..

  16. Reddman Says:

    He’s GOOD at 350-360, but could be great at 325-330.

  17. Bucnjim Says:

    “He’s GOOD at 350-360, but could be great at 325-330”
    Couldn’t have said it better! I’d bet anything he’d agree with this statement as well!

  18. admin Says:

    Joe here,

    For those unsure, Joe gets that the rubber blouse induces more sweating and, subsequently, weight loss. 20+ years ago Joe used to go for 3 mile runs with a “solar waist trimmer” on. Essentially a rubber half shirt worn under a t-shirt. Yeah, Joe was sucked in by one of those six-pack abs commercials. The point is if Penn was busting 360 as Stroud suggests, then a rubber shirt wasn’t going to help him get to 330 for a weigh in. You just can’t shed that much water in those things.

    Joe also spent years covering horse racing and is very familiar with jockeys using the “hot box” and the science that goes into extreme water weight loss. 30 pounds isn’t going to fall off Penn before a weigh-in.

  19. Macabee Says:

    Simple. Penn lost the weight to get the contract. Then keep the weight off to keep the contract. I know that’s easier said than done, my point is when he’s motivated to do it, he can, because he’s done it before. He should be motivated this year, as much as at any time in his career!

  20. OAR Says:

    Is it training camp, yet?

  21. Snook Says:

    Is it just me or are the local rags already piling on the Bucs? What’s the deal? Is it Schiano’s refusal to be buddy-buddy with them? Seems like they take every chance they get to take shots at the Bucs. Blount, Penn, etc… the list just goes on…

  22. Sgt Mike Says:

    Wearing a rubber shirt will help you lose a ton of weight overnight butit is only water weight. It holds in the heat causing a massive burn off of water and calories. It does not change your general condition except to maybe being worse off now that you are dehydrated. Alot of military guys do it before the height/weight and tape test helping to get under there prescribed BMI for there age group so as not to flagged for promotion or even kicked out of the military for being overweight. Someone like Penn, a world class athlete compared to the regular Joe (no pun intended), would not benefit from such a practice as he is not only fined a little money but he also gets rewarded even more money for performance. Would not make sense for him to lower his performance thus jeopardizing his income. Where as a military guy can prolong his time to shape up if given an on the spot weigh in/ tape test. They don’t normally bust balls in the combat zone about Ht/Wt so the soldier can rehydrate a day later when in garrison (home station).

  23. Kennedy Says:

    My thoughts exactly Sgt. Penn is paid far more for his performance than he is fined for his weight. So we’re to believe he’s so stupid that he’d rather have a bad season and risk getting cut just to try and pass a weigh in? I don’t buy it. Maybe he wore the rubber shirt a couple of times, but who cares? A lot of guys feel better after a great sweat and a rehydration. I love a great sauna after a workout.

  24. thomas 2.2 Says:

    It is virtually impossible to cut 30 lbs in a practice through profuse sweating (rubber shirt concept).

    But it is very common to lose 20+ over the course of a day through water loss / dehydration. Fighters can lose 20+ from dehydration the night before through an afternoon weigh-in.

    Trust me: dehydration makes a person very irritable.

    If you don’t think that 30 extra pounds of blubber doesn’t affect an O-Lineman, especially in the 4th quarter in the heat – then youhave never participated in an extremely strenous athletic activity like football, fighting, triahthlon, crossfit training etc.

    Penn needs to be around 310-320 for peak pass-blocking performance – to conclude otehrwise is foolish.


    No Morning Cup of Joe today? That’s sad.

  26. Paul Says:

    Rick Stoud is making up a story from some vague contract info that he happened into. From there, he’s just speculating. No facts to back up his argument. Did he ever lose a game check? Well, Rick sure doesn’t know. That is weak journalism for a beat writer to do from a fans perspective.

  27. admin Says:

    JOe here,

    For those hurling insulting matter at Joe in the comments section, that is not permitted. Joe doesn’t come to your Internet home to do the same.

  28. SilenceTheCritics Says:

    No idea why anyone would be insulting Joe over his opinion on this article lol… your opinion is no better than his… Though i do happen to agree that the extra weight he gained absolutely contributed to his poor performance on the field last year, more so as the year went on but isnt that the case that has plagued him the last few years?… started off the season great then gained weight as the season went on and his performance drops off. Hope Schiano can get him to correct this problem.

  29. Fritz50 Says:

    Guys, 30 pounds amounts to well over 3 gallons (8.35 #/gal)of sweat, even counting the salt & electrolytes in sweat. I can see 5, 10, maybe even 15 pounds that way, but 30 pounds of sweat would put him on the ground. Not saying he didn’t try it, but it had to be in conjunction with other methods, if he made weight, that is.

  30. Fritz50 Says:

    I’d venture to guess that the process of losing that much weight, no matter how he did it, would be a major reason for poor performance.

  31. Snook Says:

    Is it Friday yet?

  32. Snook Says:

    Why doesn’t Penn’s contract have a performance scale in it instead of a weight clause?

    If he’s playing well, who cares how fat he is? And likewise, if he’s under 330, who cares that he’s met the weight requirement if he’s giving up sacks?

  33. Kennedy Says:

    Well said, Snook. He probably does have Pro Bowl incentive clauses and other stuff like that.

  34. FlBoy84 Says:

    “Joe really doesn’t buy that Penn’s weight is an issue in his performance.” Have to disagree there Joe, as trying to move that extra 30lbs., especially against quicker 250-260lb linemen, definitely would make Penn a step slower. Having a weight issue myself, can definitely attest what a change 30lbs can make.

  35. Nick Says:

    I personally like the Stroud article. It is some speculation, but it does give a little more realistic aspect to these athletes. I don’t get the point of refuting that Penn struggled at the end of the year. Penn was absolutely massive by December. I remember how skinny Trueblood looked next to him in the huddles and thinking, “isn’t the left tackle supposed to be the athletic one?” In my opinion, to report that mandated weigh ins were not to take place in December, per his contract, is valid reporting.
    Someone said that it doesn’t make sense for him to hurt his performance for a little bit of money. But, if I remember correctly, his weight has been a huge concern of the team for years. That is why the team was hesitant to resign him. So I would fairly speculate that the team is critical of his weight beyond his mandated weigh ins.
    By the way, you wear rubber shirts to finish off whatever else you might be doing to loose weight. When I wrestled, you didn’t eat much leading up to weigh ins and the day of, you “lose the water weight” to make sure that you are under. So saying that he can’t loose 30 pounds with a rubber shirt, therefore the statement is bogus is very shortsighted. Lastly, if Stroud can’t speculate because he must have a degree in medicine, when did you guys get your degree as nutritionists?

  36. admin Says:

    Joe here,

    Look, the rubber shirt won’t peel of 30 pounds. That’s not shortsighted. You’re welcome to consult with an expert. … Stroud’s claiming his sources say Penn’s weight loss efforts likely affected his performance negatively, and he says it’s no coincidence Penn played poorly in December. That’s serious speculation considering Penn has never been thin. Penn’s one guy in the locker room that likes to sit around in a towel and will talk to just about everyone after a game. He’s very visible. And it never caught Joe’s eye that Penn had gained a significant amount of weight for his size last season. Is Penn playing over 330 significant? That’s really the quesiton here.

  37. thomas 2.2 Says:

    Glad to see that most of you, Joe and a few others excluded, get it.

    For many athletic lineman, like Pig Penn, the added weight reduces or eliminates a strength for them – backpedal speed and footwork which for a man Pig Penn’s size allows him to be such an effective pass blocker when he isn’t too fat.

    Bryant McKinnie and a host of other lineman, mostly tackles, have displayed a sloppy backpedal and footwork when too fat. It is now the NFL norm to build weight clauses into these players’ contracts.

    Penn is extraordinarily athletic for a 330lber – he is very average or below the closer he gets to 400lb. At 330 or less, Penn will amaze you on a basketball court with his skills and athleticism for his size.

    Run blocking isn’t affected as much by the weight, especially short yardage, but if the run-blocking scheme causes Pig to have to get out on someone – it can be a disadvantage. In short yardage he can just lean his big body on the End, typically, and it can help a little.

    Bottom line: Pig needs to be in around 330 or a little less and Schiano will actually make sure that he is – Rah thought that hyperactive, nonsensical pep talk could overcome the 30lbs of blubber.

    There is not a single credible person familiar with the bucs who won’t tell you that Pig Penn is a different player at 360+.

  38. Nick Says:

    Let me premise this with these are my words from MY understanding of the Stroud article and I enjoy and this particular article driven conversation.
    The claim that you can’t loose 30 pounds by a rubber shirt is shortsighted because no where in the article does it make that claim. It just says that he was witnessed doing this. No where does it say that Penn is relying solely on a rubber shirt to cut 30 pounds, so I feel like this is a tangent more than the main point. How can you debase an article by killing a point that isn’t even made in the article in the first place?
    The entire purpose of having a weight clause is to ensure that a particular player is in shape throughout the year, these are PROFESSIONAL athletes mind you. The point is that instead of keeping himself in shape for the entire year he only worried about his weight when a weigh in was due soon. Does that make Penn a bad guy? NO. Personally, I’d love to meet him. But it’s much like the college kid that doesn’t study until the night before the test. They aren’t usually the creme of the crop. It’s immature and unprofessional, which could have been the slogan for the entire team last year.

  39. The Dutcher Journal (Pete Dutcher) Says:

    If Penn has to weigh in at 330 to avoid a fine, then what the hell good is a rubber shirt going to do for him if he weighs 360?


    Makes him sweat away pounds, which was why he was dehydrated.

  40. OAR Says:

    Glad to read everyone knows about rubber!

  41. thomas 2.2 Says:

    Nick makes a good point. Stroud wasn’t saying that Penn lost 30lbs weekly with a rubber shirt.

    Stroud was saying that Penn attempted to lose weight weekly by using the rubber shirt to dehydrate himself until his team weigh in.

  42. BucFan20 Says:

    And yes folks as usual our resident expert can’t make a statement without calling someone a name. I would LOVE to see him call Mr Penn Pig Penn to his Face and watch him get KNOCKED ON HIS A$$!!! I’ll bet 95% of us would pay to see it.

  43. OAR Says:

    I’d buy that for a dollar!

  44. Kennedy Says:

    Gentlemen, if we’re going to carve this story up like this, then Stroud’s entire premise is flawed without knowing how often Penn had to weigh in and how much weight he was trying to cut. The problem for me is that Stroud obviously doesn’t know the specifics otherwise he would have written them out. … Stroud says “some claimed.” WHO AND WHAT THE HELL IS SOME?? Sounds like it was message board readers versus actual Bucs staff

  45. Rican Says:

    Yea I agree with Nick.
    Just cause it may be a lost cause doesn’t mean Penn wasn’t attempting to do it. Whether it works or not is besides the point.

  46. Jglazer Says:

    Add 30 lbs take away 30 lbs, I really don’t care. Just waiting for the great offensive line to show up. Freeman is running around like a jumping bean. Our running backs are largely running no where unless blount jumps the defender.

    Still not confident that just picking up a running back or two is going to make this offensive line the great line I keep hearing about year after year.

  47. Scubog Says:

    Perhaps the problem was that the Bucs version of “The Donald” ate the rubber shirt. Could it be that Penn’s play in December was at least in part because the team was behind by two scores in the first quarter making it obvious that Freeman was going to pass? He’s always been “full-figured”.