FOXBORO - As soon as the Patriots signed Alge Crumpler this offseason, the new tight end vanished. He disappeared, never doing an interview, never popping his head out in public.
With good reason. The 32-year-old former Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans star spent the last six weeks in Louisiana under the watchful eye of wild, wacky and respected fitness guru Mackie Shilstone, who specializes in prolonging the careers of athletes.
The secretive Shilstone cited HIPAA laws and declined to discuss specifics of Crumpler's old weight (believed to be around 300 pounds) or his new weight (believed to be considerably less).
But as Crumpler was scheduled to arrive at the Patriots offseason workout yesterday, all Shilstone will say is, "Just wait."
"When you look at him, you'll see a big difference," said Shilstone, whose Fitness Principle program at East Jefferson General Hospital describes itself as Performance Enhancement and Lifestyle Management. "My goal was to allow Alge Crumpler to be Alge Crumpler as long as he cares to do it."
Later, he insisted that, "I don't like to see my players at a large amount of body fat. I don't accept excuses." That would indicate Crumpler, listed at 266 pounds in 2009, no longer fits into that category.
The Pats signed Crumpler to a two-year deal in late March, then selected tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez in the April draft. Both may pressure Crumpler for playing time, but at this point in his career, Crumpler is mostly a blocker.
A well-known author and nutrition expert, Shilstone has earned his stripes extending the careers of athletes such as Ozzie Smith, Serena Williams, Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr. That was the goal for Crumpler, who was recommended to Shilstone by James D. "Butch" Williams after the agent sent former NBA star Rodney Rogers to Shilstone.
After a two-hour original physical, analyzing body composition, bone density and how one's respiratory system works, Shilstone comes up with a plan for each athlete.
Crumpler added in kick-boxing to help his hips become quicker and more fluid, along with other activities. Shilstone appears energetic about his prospects.
"I told him, 'If a defensive back tries to roll you up, you're going to knock him down,' " Shilstone said. "I said, 'I want you to bring back a crushed helmet of one of the defensive backs, so I can hang it on my wall.' "
With the successful six weeks behind him, Crumpler will participate in the Pats offseason program, but still is slated to return to New Orleans in July. In the meantime, the gurus have given him "some criteria" to continue the positive health steps he's already made.