The New York Diet

Giants Linebacker Danny Clark Keeps ‘Lean and Mean’ for the Team and the Ladies

Danny Clark in Philippe's downstairs wine cellar.
Danny Clark in Philippe’s downstairs wine cellar. Photo: Melissa Hom

Giants linebacker Danny Clark is hungry for a championship this year. “We have a huge chip on our shoulder. I thought we were one of — if not the best — team in this league a year ago.” After losing to the Eagles in the playoffs last season, “the same guys have come back with a tremendous amount of aggression against all of our opponents, so we’re excited.” When he’s not practicing, Clark hosts Monday-night football at the Ainsworth to support an eponymous foundation for kids, inspired by his son’s premature birth in 2002. And he plays a bit off the field in this week’s New York Diet as well, hanging with G-Unit at Monkey Bar, and taking pleasure in the company of lovely dinner guests at Philippe.

Friday, September 11
I had a simple breakfast at work, at the stadium: oatmeal, pineapples and strawberries, a croissant, and a large glass of orange juice, Simply Orange. We have the greatest facility, by the way. We moved from Giants stadium to the Timex center. I’m sure all of us are going to gain weight this season, because we have our own chefs who make great healthy food.

Lunch, I had grilled chicken breast and pasta covered in marinara meat sauce, but the meat was of course ground turkey, which was amazing. This is my tenth season. I eat healthy because I truly believe the older you get, the lighter you need to be. When I was 23, I would eat thousands and thousands of calories — I packed it in. I thought that was most important. At this point, I eat pretty light and it works for me. I stay lean and mean, so to speak, and it works. I’m excited about it.

For dinner, I went to a place called the Monkey Bar, in the city. For an appetizer I had oysters Rockefeller, which was splendid. And then for dinner I had wild cedar-plank salmon. I’m a big fish eater. Salmon is probably my all-time favorite. So it was solid. I had a really good time, and you know, we had a couple beverages along the way. I didn’t go with my teammates. I went with some friends that are in the entertainment industry. They work for the company G-Unit. Coach PR was one of them, and another was Angel Martinez. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind the shout-out. There weren’t any more famous people. No dessert. Only liquid dessert.

Saturday, September 12
It’s a tradition: Each position sends their rookies out to get toasted sandwiches at some little local sandwich shop in Jersey right near the stadium. I get a croissant filled with egg whites, Swiss cheese, and turkey sausage. It is the greatest thing ever. When I started out in the league, they made us get Krispy Kreme donuts. I don’t know if the sandwiches taste as good as Krispy Kremes, but they’re better for us.

My rookie is Clint Sintim from the University of Virgina. He’s great; he really does a great job of supplying us with all our treats in the meeting rooms. That’s when I indulge a bit, when I eat all the candy trying to stay awake in meetings.

For lunch, I had salmon croquettes at the facility. I grew up eating those things at home but they didn’t taste that good when I was growing up, maybe because I made them. But those chefs, they really threw down in there.

I had those with rice pilaf and my crazy drink mix. I know it’s not good, but I mix Sierra Mist and lemonade to make this sparkling lemonade that tastes fantastic.

We were at the hotel before the Redskins game, so I tried to eat somewhat healthy. I had a pan-seared black bass with sautéed spinach from this restaurant near our hotel called the Regina Steakhouse. If I have friends or family in town we’ll eat there. If I’m by myself, I’ll just order over the phone and pick it up and eat it in my room. I was on my own.

Around 9:30 p.m., we had a snack at our hotel; this is all the bad stuff, and I’m not supposed to tell you this. Our team provides us with cheeseburgers, huge steak fries, oatmeal-raisin cookies, and you can make a shake if you want: vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, with all the sprinkles included. There’s macaroni, chicken fajitas, Caesar salad; it’s a large smorgasbord of food. French fries, that is my weakness, and I take the chicken fajitas without the tortilla, just the chicken and the peppers, and get two oatmeal-raisin cookies. So that’s my snack before I go to bed the night before a game. And like eight Gatorades, because it was going to be 80 degrees for our game against Washington. They urged us to hydrate at all costs to prevent cramping and dehydration, of course. Bed check’s at 11 p.m. It’s strange to a normal 32-year-old man to have someone come check their room at night, but of course I’ve been in this business for over ten years. And in college we had the same thing every night before a game when we stayed in a hotel. So it’s kind of a way of life for me at this point. I’ll be anxious to see how I feel when I go on to another career and won’t have anybody checking my room. It doesn’t bother me at all.

Sunday, September 13
Game day. This is when I load up on carbs. I had a waffle with light syrup, and egg whites scrambled with turkey breast. Then I had a full plate of pasta with another marinara meat sauce. Any Sunday morning you can find me eating that same exact thing. Sometimes the waffle is in, sometimes it’s not, it depends on how late the game is. I like to get some slow-burning carbs that will last through the evening. If it’s early, I sometimes leave the waffle out. This was 9:30 a.m.

I take a snack to the locker room with me: a dozen pineapple slices. It keeps me energized. I have them before I go out on the field and then at halftime, I dive back into them. It’s just what I need to keep me going throughout the game.

After the game I had an early dinner. I went to my favorite place — and you’ll be blown away by what it is — it’s a place called the Market Diner. I eat there probably three times a week. And they deliver. I have a grilled chicken wrap minus the tomatoes and these seasoned waffle fries that are just so addictive; I think once I lose them I’ll have a complete six pack. After the game, we’ll have a celebratory drink. There, it was a margarita; liquid dessert again, on Sunday evening.

Monday, September 14
We practice on Monday. I had an egg-white omelette with turkey, spinach, mushrooms, and Swiss cheese, along with a cup of strawberry yogurt with vanilla granola and orange juice.

Usually they supply breakfast and lunch, but Monday’s a short day so a lot of the times they won’t feed us lunch; they try to cut back, save a couple bucks. But the coaches were still there, so they cooked for us. We had New York strip steak with steamed broccoli and corn, just the kernels.

That night was the launch party for my Monday-night benefits at the Ainsworth. The foundation is for underserved youth and it’s open bar and a bar-food buffet for $50. That evening, I had three mini-cheeseburgers. I WISH those Cajun fries were there. But no, I just had regular ones, and not many of them. I was a social butterfly that evening, so I didn’t eat much. My teammate Steve Smith was there, rookie receiver Ramses Barden, Jack McBrayer from 30 Rock, James Kyson (Heroes), Derek Hagan. I just had juice to drink. No, I’m just kidding.

Tuesday, September 15
I went to this smoothie place on 45th and Ninth Avenue; I think it’s Juice Generation. It was crazy. It was the most exhilarating thing I’ve ever experienced. Basically they juiced wheat grass, celery, spinach, beets, and cucumbers, in a fourteen-ounce cup. It didn’t taste all that appetizing, but it was like instant 5-hour Energy. I am totally hooked; I am going to invest in that juicer now. And along with that I bought a strawberry-banana smoothie with an Energy booster. My masseur — he’s like a holistic doctor — he’s been urging me to drink vegetable juice. I’m gonna try to do it myself to save time and actually to save money over the long term.

I don’t believe I ate lunch. But on a day like yesterday, which was an off day, I would eat something light, like a turkey sandwich with Swiss cheese: the least fatty of cheeses. And whole-wheat bread, no mayo, a little mustard. With a bag of Baked Lays, maybe.

For dinner at Philippe, I had the green prawns; sautéed spinach is what makes the prawns turn green. I had these wonderful chicken lettuce wraps, and then the chicken satay. I ate with some friends. And they were great to look at, too. Well, my manager Jerry came — but he’s not that great to look at — and two other young ladies who are just good friends, to look at, you know, scrumptious. They could be, like, shirt models. They met me there. I told them I was doing the photo shoot, and “why don’t you come by and have dinner?” I also had a Philipptini.

We were in the private wine cellar downstairs. You have to walk through the kitchen to get there. It was really cool in there. Very exclusive. It can be very intimate, you know, if the lighting is right. Philippe is my favorite Asian restaurant. But I’d never been in that room. I’m totally hooked now. I don’t think I can take a step down now knowing that that room is hidden underneath.

I rarely eat dessert because it’s usually stuff I don’t like. I’m the only person I know who doesn’t like cheesecake. My favorite is apple pie à la mode. I could eat that anywhere they make it. That’s my favorite, but they didn’t have it.

Wednesday, September 16
Today at the stadium, I had pancakes, light syrup, and oatmeal, very simple; a light sprinkle of brown sugar and I’m good to go. And I had my traditional orange juice.

I had grilled tilapia with this hot pineapple relish on top — it was kind of crazy, with steamed broccoli, and rice. And my special mix of Sierra Mist and lemonade.

Tonight I have interviews at 8 p.m. and 10, and then I’ll eat food. I’m from suburban Chicago. Now you know my favorite food on the planet is Chicago pizza, right? So I’m very committed to not cheating on Chicago with New York pizza. You know, the whole flimsy, fold-your-pizza-in-half type deal? I’m not a fan of that. Our pizza has substance. But I’ve been craving pizza for the last week, so I think I’m gonna try a place called Blue Moon on Ninth Ave., that has these little rectangle, healthy pizzas. It’s the best I’ve had here. You can get turkey and spinach and all kinds of healthy toppings. It’s a very thin crust. It works.

Related: The Giants’ Key to Victory on Sunday: Don’t Stare at the Scoreboard for Too Long [The Sports Section]

Giants Linebacker Danny Clark Keeps ‘Lean and Mean’ for the Team and