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ESPN Icon Mike Golic on his Diabetes ‘Game Plan’

Updated: 2/7/22 1:44 pmPublished: 2/7/22
By Andrew Briskin

Former NFL player and veteran sports reporter Mike Golic talks about creating an individual treatment plan to best fit your needs, how he uses diabetes technology, and how having a conversation about your diabetes can help you stay healthy over time.

While not completely shocked by his diagnosis with type 2 diabetes 17 years ago, broadcaster and former NFL player Mike Golic described the experience as a “slap of reality.”

“I was in a profession where I had a strict itinerary, where I was constantly told where to be and when, what my pre-game meal was, how to eat,” he said. “[After retiring from the NFL], I’m on my own and now am diagnosed with diabetes, so I [had] to make those decisions for myself.”

Golic, a former defensive lineman for the Philadelphia Eagles and analyst and broadcaster for ESPN for 25 years, was diagnosed at age 42, after his playing days were over. Coincidentally, he was diagnosed at the same age his father was when he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. 

“Back when my father was diagnosed with diabetes, my parents hid it from us, and we never talked about it,” he said. “I said that if I ever found out I had diabetes, I am going to be very open about it. I have three kids, two of whom were big football players. Their grandfather had [type 2], I have it, so I tell them it’s something they need to look out for.”

Golic has teamed up with LifeScan which recently launched Talking Type You, a new campaign that not only encourages open conversation about the realities of managing type 2 diabetes, but also hopes to empower people to create a management plan that best fits their specific needs.

To create his own plan, Golic now uses a tech-based approach centering around OneTouch Solutions, a digital one-stop-shop that offers several health and wellness programs like Noom, Welldoc, Fitbit, and Cecelia Health. These programs offer tons of different solutions for nutrition, weight, fitness, and glucose management goals. Users can pair their glucose meter to the programs and send glucose data directly to their healthcare team through the OneTouch Reveal app. 

Golic still uses his mentality as a football player when thinking about his support system and how to use the information he gets from his devices. In many ways, his approach to diabetes mirrors how he once prepared for each week of the NFL season.

“I played team sports my entire life, so I began to think of my doctor as my head coach and my friends and family as my teammates, so I can attack diabetes while leaning on others for support,” he said.

This carries over to the way that he uses and interprets his data on a daily basis. “The biggest thing for me is seeing my trends,” he said. “When I read a game plan, I know what a team’s trends are in specific situations during the game and what play they’re likely going to run, so I can respond. That’s the same thing that [my device] does for me. For a certain part of the day, if I’m feeling a bit tired or sluggish, I can look at my glucose trends from the past, see exactly what’s different about that moment, and respond.”

Golic stressed that while the information from his devices helps him make personal decisions about his diet, exercise, and general diabetes management every day, it also helps with regular communication with his healthcare team. Just like in football where the game plan requires adjustments and improvements every week, his diabetes management must also change as he gets new information and his condition changes.

“My doctor is sent my blood sugar numbers directly, so he’s included in this along the way. We will text back and forth if there’s anything he sees that I need to address,” he said. “If my doctor is going to be my head coach, he needs to have this information so he can see what I’m seeing. We don’t want to wait four months and try to decide where to go next by sorting through all the information at one time.”

As someone who used to avoid technology, Golic now encourages others to use diabetes tech as part of their daily management routine, regardless of their age or past familiarity with other devices.

“I’ll be the first to admit that if something gets too technical for me, I usually hand it off to my kids to figure out. However, I actually was able to set up the different programs and figure it out myself,” he said. “Understand and embrace technology,” he said; “it’s easier than you think. Let it help you and be your guide.”

As part of the campaign, Golic interviewed other former professional athletes who are also living with type 2 diabetes, using his platform to promote these discussions.

“We wanted to get the message across that while we were professional athletes, we still need to worry about the exact same things that 34 million other people in the US with diabetes have to consider. Making sure we move, eat the right foods, stay hydrated, etc., in the ways that work best for us individually,” he said. “We can talk about our shared experiences as athletes, but even if you didn’t play sports, you have a unique experience. What is your journey? We are open about our journeys and want to encourage others to do the same.”

As a take-home message, Golic reiterated how important it is to have support around you, not just from your healthcare team, but also friends and family. “My biggest message: look for the help. There are so many places you can find answers,” he said. “Diabetes is not something to feel alone or embarrassed about, so have that conversation and ask for help from a spouse, friends, or family.”

You can learn more about the campaign and enter the campaign Sweepstakes for a chance to win one of several prizes here

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About the authors

Andrew Briskin joined the diaTribe Foundation in 2021 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Health and Societies . Briskin is an Editor for diaTribe Learn.... Read the full bio »