Trying to make a 53-man roster in the National Football League is tough. In fact, it is beyond tough, but when trying to do so with a non-forgiving condition like Type 1 Diabetes, it becomes even more of a challenge.
That is the case for Steelers’ defensive tackle Henry Mondeaux. Mondeaux, who was signed this offseason to a reserve contract, was diagnosed in High School, but is using his platform as a way to help kids who might be struggling with the same condition.
“It’s definitely something that I use to motivate me,” Mondeaux told Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “It’s kind of my, ‘why’ — to show kids who are maybe diagnosed with the same thing or something like it that you can still go after your dreams and all that stuff. So I always try to keep that in the back of my mind.”
How is the disease a challenge? Mondeaux has to monitor his blood glucose (sugar) levels throughout the day, and track the amount of carbohydrates he takes in to ensure he has enough insulin in his body to keep his blood sugar levels as stable as possible.
“Definitely, it adds a whole other level to the nutrition and hydration aspect of things,” Mondeaux said. “But I have found that once I got it down and under control, it’s benefited me because I really know a lot more about food and how it’s going to affect my energy levels and blood sugars. So you turn a negative into a positive, for sure.”
Luckily for Mondeaux, he has years of experience of how to manage his condition while playing and practicing. Mondeaux isn’t the first Steelers player to have to deal with this condition. First round draft pick Kendall Simmons was also diagnosed with diabetes, but his diagnosis came much later in his football career. Outside of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jay Cutler was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes during his NFL career and had to overcome a lot to get the condition manageable.
As for me, my son, who is 10, has been living with Type 1 Diabetes since he was 4 years old. It is a condition which can fluctuate by the minute, and mastering it is impossible. Luckily, technology has aided with the management of the disease, but Mondeaux’s job of making an NFL roster is markedly more difficult than the average football player.