0230 hours: I walked northbound on North Main Street in Freeport, N.Y., with a black hooded sweatshirt over my head, my tan Timbs, a black ski mask, and a Marlboro Light cigarette in my hand, which was more than just a prop. I wore an earphone leading to my police radio, and on my side, a Sig Sauer-P226 9mm pistol. I walked toward the target corner and stopped to lean against a light pole. I looked to my right and saw the "pumpers" looking at me. I was still probably 100 feet or more from the corner. For a minute they must've thought that this could be po-po, but nah ... not this huge guy. I was probably just another guy looking for action. In actuality, I was a 5-foot 8-inch, 325-pound, plain-clothes police officer working the street crime unit in Freeport. This was one of many buy-and-bust operations with the Community Response Unit.
Our buyer walked up and made the deal.
We had three cars in strategic position to make the grab, and I was acting as perimeter support. Well, the signal hat came off, the lights came on and the bad guys started running. The young male ran straight toward me, a pack of Newports and "Old English" flying everywhere. He struggled to hold his pants up with one hand, and with the other, reached into his pants pocket. One of my buddies hopped out of the unmarked and gave chase, as the 18 year old threw a paper bag containing 30 or so nickel bags of weed over the fence to his left. He then continued to run straight at me with not a clue that I was waiting. Just as he was about to pass me, I said the words "stop, police" and then I promptly put the Lawrence Taylor on him.
For an old defensive lineman, it was a beautiful tackle. A little higher than my coach would've liked, but complete, nevertheless. Another bad guy off the streets right now on his face struggling to regain that breath I just knocked out of him. "Breathe dude, breathe ... and put your hands behind your back. You're under arrest." (Got 'em!)
I thought I was a good cop, even though I weighed more than 300 pounds. I used to say that I could do everything a thin guy could do except go over fences easily. I was (and am) a good cop ... but I was a ticking time bomb.
True that I had excellent communication skills, and usually prided myself on being able to gain a good rapport with just about anybody. But the problem was that I could drop dead of a stroke or heart attack any minute, and if it happened when I was fighting with a bad guy, he'd have my gun and my friends would be dead.
Another thing I thought about was that if I was chasing a guy with my partner and I couldn't keep up, and because of that, my partner got hurt or killed, then that would directly be my fault. That would be on me, forever. This is not the way a police officer is supposed to be. Nor is it the way a fireman, as I was at the time, should be either.
I am an active guy. I am also a Boy Scout leader, and a three-sport coach. I was so active that people used to say to me that with all I do and as busy as I am, they were surprised I wasn't skinny. Here's the problem people: I'm addicted to food.
I have stress. I have bills, I have kids, I have sometimes had stress in my relationship with my wife, and with other members of my family, just like most people in the world. Some of us just find it easier to find comfort and stress relief in eating, just as other find comfort in drugs, booze, sex, sleep or any of the varieties of addictive behaviors that people talk about. Sure I can say that my genetics are bad and that I have slow metabolism, too. Anybody who watched season four of NBC's hit reality TV show "The Biggest Loser" will remember that I went on that show with my twin brother Bill, who went on to win the show, gaining the title of "The Biggest Loser." I also won a title that season: I was At-Home Champion.
Bill and I were very vocal about the fact that we have obesity in our family and that our dad had suffered from several obesity-related illnesses and problems including diabetes, hypertension, phlebitis, high cholesterol, and gout, and eventually died from esophageal cancer, smoking until the very end.