For many professional athletes, a personal chef is a luxury. For Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley, it was a necessity.

Fairley, the 13th overall selection of the 2011 NFL draft, reported to camp north of 320 pounds. Then after the first week of preseason, he lost his starting spot as the excess weight hurt his effectiveness.

Fairley stands 6-foot-4 and boasts superb athleticism. Teammate Ndamukong Suh even said Fairley is more "athletically gifted" than he is. But Fairley has been hampered by inconsistency that's linked to his being overweight.

After being demoted, Fairley realized he had to drop some weight and hired a personal chef. And it worked. The chef prepared a week's worth of meals for Fairley and put them in his freezer before the week started. According to Kyle Meinke of MLive, these dishes consisted of meat loaf, baked potatoes, salmon, stir fry and chicken.

That's all it took for Fairley to drop 15 pounds in the remaining three weeks of the preseason, and his improved play got him reinstated as a starter for the Lions' season opener against the New York Giants on Monday.

"Felt real good," Fairley said of seeing his name alongside the starters again. "Preseason, that's when you knock off the rust coming into the season. I just feel like those last three preseason games, got my rest up, and now I'm ready to go for Monday Night Football."

Fairley had declined to hire a personal chef last year, and he ballooned to 320 pounds during the season. Despite playing in 15 games in 2013, as opposed to 13 in 2012, Fairley recorded five fewer total tackles last season (27 in 2012, 22 in 2013). In May the Lions declined to pick up his $5.5 million option for the 2015 campaign, perhaps as motivation for the 26-year-old to shape up.

And that's just what Fairley did. During the past few weeks he brought breakfast and lunch to the Lions facility and ate dinner at home. And perhaps most importantly, he's avoided fast food -- for the most part. Fairley admitted to the Detroit Free Press that he did briefly fall off the wagon last weekend:

“Me and my girl went out and just stopped by McDonald's,” Fairley said.

Burgers, Bacon, Dogs: 2014 NFL Tribute Menu


40 For 60 Burger, Minnesota

Patty that's 40 percent bacon, 60 percent ground beef. Cheddar cheese, applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, crispy onions, a fried egg and special sauce. Served on a pretzel bun. Inspiration: Vikings QB Joe Kapp's game-day philosophy -- 40 men playing as one for 60 minutes.


Bad to the Bone Bologna, Cleveland

Fried all-beef bologna, cut into the shape of Dawg bones, white American cheese, sweet pickles and Chomp’s secret, spicy sauce, on soft white roll. Served with crinkle cut chips and a side of bologna cheese sauce. Inspiration: The fans in the Dawg Pound.


The Emperor, Pittsburgh

Two beef patties with shaved kielbasa, onion bacon kraut, fried egg and Heinz Field Secret Sauce on a Brioche bun. Inspiration:Hall of Fame coach Chuck Noll was nicknamed The Emperor Chaz by broadcaster Myron Cope.


Red Sail Dog, Tampa Bay

Hebrew National hot dog with Sriracha mustard, red sauerkraut and scallion curls, on a split top bun. Inspiration: Red sail on the Buccaneers' logo.


The Quick & Carmichael, Philadelphia

Black cherry smoked pulled pork, maple sugar smoked pulled chicken, topped with house made slaw, on a potato roll. Each sandwich is available with choice of Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce or Carolina Vinegar Barbecue Sauce. Inspiration: Mike Quick and Harold Carmichael were two of the best receivers in team history.


Toro's Chicken Stack, Houston

Created by Aramark’s celebrity chef partner, Grady Spears. Hill Country smoked chicken, topped with candied bacon, Texas jack cheese, cranberry mayo and garnished with fresh arugula. Served on a Sheila Parton jalapeño roll with kettle chips. Inspiration: Toro is the Texans mascot.


Who-Dey Pigskin Wrap, Cincinnati

Soft flour tortilla encasing two corn tostada shells loaded with Mojo pulled pork (seasoned and cooked for over 13 hours), pork crackling, bacon bits, fresh Pico de Gallo and pepper jack cheese, grilled until golden brown. Served with creamy cilantro-lime queso cheese sauce. Inspiration: The team's signature fan chant of "Who Dey, Who Dey, Who Dey think gonna beat them Bengals."


Poe's Pork Taco, Baltimore

Smoked pulled pork, tossed with buffalo sauce, topped with green onion slaw on a flatbread tortilla. Served with Utz Potato Chips. Inspiration: Baltimore poet Edgar Allan Poe, wrote "The Raven."


DaBurger Sliders

Pepper jack pork burger, chorizo cream, chipotle barbecue pulled pork, Havarti cheese, thick-cut bacon and crispy potato sticks. Inspiration: The Illinois Pork Council's classic "DaBurger."


Tailgate Stack, Kansas City

Burnt ends topped with cheddar cheese sauce, malted beer grain syrup, bacon and a fried egg. Served on a piece of frybread. Inspiration: The tailgating at Arrowhead Stadium is legendary.


Music City Meatloaf Sandwich

Homemade meatloaf with crispy, fried onions and chipotle mayo. Inspiration: "Named for Nashville's thriving comfort food scene."

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