Tom Zbikowski was cut by the Chicago Bears during training camp this summer and promptly retired from the NFL after five seasons. The former Notre Dame star — who also made a name for himself as a boxer — is now a firefighter. Two of Zbikowski’s teams — the Ravens and Bears — play today in Chicago.
The Chicago Tribune’s David Haugh caught up with Zbikowski this week. Zbikowski, 28, didn’t bite his tongue touching on subjects about his drinking, carousing, weight gain, PEDs and everything in between. It’s a very candid interview. The term “beer gut” is used often. Let’s assume Zbikowski was a legendary partier around the South Bend campus.
Some of the highlights of the interview include his thoughts on losing interest in the NFL and retiring:
“Football got old to me. … I enjoyed my first two years in the NFL because it was a challenge. I was playing with the best. But after awhile you don’t care whether you win or lose because you’re still getting a paycheck. I enjoyed high school and college much more.”
Zbikowski began drinking more-and-more during his tenure with the Colts in 2012. Haugh writes Zbikowski had a drinking “superstition” of four glasses of scotch and four Guinesses before games. The player estimates he played nearly 20 percent of his NFL games with a hangover.
“Get a little messed up, sneak a girl into your room, feel on top of the world,” Zbikowski said. “I had some of my best games off of benders — some of my worst too. My two best seasons ever were 2005 (at Notre Dame) and 2009 (in Baltimore) when I was the most out of control drinking, so I thought, hey, maybe I should go back to that.”
Zbikowski claimed, “I’m the only guy who can drink six beers, then spar 10 rounds on the same day,” but admitted the drinking got out of hand in Indianapolis and led to weight gain. This summer with the Bears he took a banned supplement that would have cost him four games had he made the roster. Instead he choose to retire and change to a career that would help people.