“You Just Can’t Shake It”
This story appears in ESPN The Magazine’s Oct. 2 MLB Playoffs issue. Subscribe today!
It’s 75 degrees and beautiful in Renton, Washington. The sky is clear and blue. When new Seahawks running back Eddie Lacy climbs out of his Corvette and waves to me in a park near his condo, I notice he’s brought a towel. It’s a small towel, tan and about the size of a dishrag. We find an empty bench, near the playground, and take a seat. As Lacy speaks in an affable baritone, he holds the towel gently in his thick hands, occasionally massaging it like he wants assurance it’s still there.
Eventually he explains that he gets nervous when he does interviews, and he sweats when he gets nervous. So he came prepared today.
Lacy had to think long and hard before agreeing to meet up and talk like this. There is a good chance, each of us concedes, that this interview will just give his trolls a fresh batch of ammunition. Social media has done wonders in recent years to bridge the gap between fans and professional athletes, but increased intimacy comes with drawbacks, and nobody understands that better than Eddie Lacy.
“I could pull up my Twitter right now and there would be a fat comment in there somewhere,” he says. “Like I could tweet, ‘Today is a beautiful day!’ and someone would be like, ‘Oh yeah? You fat.’ I sit there and wonder: ‘What do you get out of that?'”
When the internet turns one of your most personal flaws into a meme, how the hell do you possibly escape it?
Ever since his weight became a public topic during his four years in Green Bay — which included two 1,100-yard seasons — Lacy had read those kinds of comments and brooded in silence, convinced he couldn’t win. Responding would only give his tormentors a smirk of satisfaction, knowing they’d wounded him. If he worked hard, got back in shape through yoga and P90X, maybe then the jokes would fade.