Kiwi Paul Lasike discovers cost of slipping up in NFL

So you've returned to work after the Christmas holidays, carrying a few extra kilos from your festive revelry ... spare a thought for Kiwi NFL performer Paul Lasike.

The Auckland-born-and-bred Tongan, has just finished an on-again, off-again season as a fullback with the storied Chicago Bears franchise, looking forward to consolidating his position on the roster for next season.

Since signing a futures contract with the Bears in January 2016, Lasike has been released, re-signed to the practice squad, elevated to the active roster, released, re-signed and promoted again, playing 10 games in between.

Such is the fickle nature of life on the fringe of professional sport.

But Lasike explained to Radio Sport Breakfast's Marc Peard that teams had other ways of keeping players on edge, including fines for reporting in overweight.

"In college, they're doing off-season programmes right now and they monitor everything," said Lasike. "They're like you're parents and tell you to do everything.

"In the NFL, a lot of the times you're on your own and they just tell you where to be. You have a conditioning test and if you fail, they'll fine you or cut you. A lot of times, they'll just ping you for it."

Lasike (26) admitted he faced a fine of $US570 ($NZ793) for every pound he reported in overweight during weekly regular-season weigh-ins.

"You don't even see that money - they deduct it from your weekly cheque. Mine was 263lb, which I think is about 120kg.

"I'm about 125kg right now."

That heavy-handed approach extends to keeping appointments.

"It's about $US14,000 ($NZ19,500) if you miss a meeting. I've never, ever missed a meeting.

"Those are things you can control ... and my wife would kill me too."

After leaving Church College in Hamilton, Lasike attended US college at Brigham Young University and first broke into the NFL on the Arizona Cardinals practice team in 2015, scoring his only touchdown in a pre-season game against the Denver Broncos.

But he admitted not really knowing much about the NFL before arriving on its doorstep.
"I never really followed the NRL. I knew briefly who Walter Payton was."

If you google "Chicago's greatest ever player", Payton's name is the first to pop up.

"My parents came over, not last season, but the previous one, when I was on the practice squad. They came to a game in the family room, and met Matt Forte and Marty [Martellus] Bennett, two of the superstars on the team.

"My parents were, like, 'who are you guys?' I told them 'sorry, my parents don't know anyone or anything about the team', but they were cool.

"That's a little how I feel sometimes when I meet people. Obviously I know who some people are, but a lot of times, I don't know who that is.

"I'm among some top athletes and even playing against them ... this is awesome."

- NZ Herald

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