Eric Decker

by flaunt

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TOMMY HILFIGERsuit, shirt, and shoes. 

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Eric Decker

If God Had Wanted Man to Play Soccer, He Wouldn't Have Given Us Arms

A cheetah has a large heart and expanded lungs and nostrils, making them fine-tuned for speed. They can run at 70 miles per hour for a few hundred yards before exhaustion takes its toll, and they must eat or perish. A cheetah’s survival is entirely based on its ability to catch its prey. Eric Decker always catches his prey, too. Able to make a lightening-quick 4.56-second 40-yard dash time with his 6’3” 215-pound frame, Decker is a natural-born wide receiver. Consider his performance for the New York Jets in week 17 of the NFL season, against division rivals the Miami Dolphins; with his precision timing and hand-eye coordination, Decker raked in 10 receptions for 221 receiving yards, a touchdown, and averaged 22 yards per catch. It was not only a career high, the performance was only eight yards shy of a Jets franchise record for receiving yards in a single game.

In 2010, the Denver Broncos picked Decker in the third round of the NFL Draft. The Wonderlic Test is an intelligence test taken by all potential draft picks to analyze aptitude and assess problem-solving skills. A score of 10 suggests literacy; the average NFL player grades 20; the average firefighter: 21; librarian: 27; chemist: 31. Eric Decker scored a 43, the seventh best all-time score of NFL players. Perhaps it gives insight into how Decker, for all his physical prowess and hulk, plays a different kind of game.

He’s a homebody for one. He immediately departs today’s East Village, NYC, photo shoot to join his family in Nashville, where his wife—country musician Jessie James Decker, their young daughter and newborn son live in the off-season. Their careers keep them on the road more often than not, but the Deckers stay close to home. “Sometimes we have to push ourselves to get out of the house,” the NY Jet explains, “because we travel so much and are busy with our lifestyles, it’s just so nice to be home.”

Sure there must be an intense training regimen to keep the Adonis-like body Adonis-like, but his is a mental game. One that means staying unruffled and calm. Decker thrives in the morning. “It’s probably the best part of the day, when you’ve got so much energy, you’re so happy,” when all the complexities are smoothed out and Decker can simply: be. An ideal day off begins early with a fresh cup of coffee enjoyed on a porch overlooking the ocean—he prefers Cabo San Lucas or Florida—and then a lazy day at the beach with his wife and daughter before grilling some steaks and enjoying them with a nice bottle of wine al fresco.

During the season, Decker is of a similarly zen-like mindset no matter what he has to physically do, and it all seems in direct opposition to the cliché stereotype of the hyped-up, over-excited, bulging-muscled professional baller who lives his life driving towards the end zone. Rather, Decker starts his day by getting to the stadium a few hours early, taking in a soak in the hot tub, possibly alongside teammates Geno Smith and Sheldon Richardson. Then on the field, tossing some balls to get the muscles warmed up, before finding a quiet spot, away from head coach Todd Bowles, to lay down, put his feet up, drape a towel over his face and meditate just before kickoff. Meditation is something Decker picked up from his college baseball days in Minnesota. “The positive reinforcements, the visualization part of it, help you to be successful, especially in baseball where it’s a ‘fear of failure’ sport. So if you can kind of be in that zone, so to speak, it just helps relax you. It lets your athletic ability take over.”

Potential NFL draft picks take the Wonderlic Test to analyze aptitude and assess problem-solving skills. A 10 suggests literacy, and the average NFL player grades 20. Eric Decker scored a 43.

Although not a superstitious man, Decker does have his pre-game rituals, “I always have the same equipment guy put on my jersey and I wear double-sided tape on my pads, so that the jersey lays a certain way.” Similarly, when it comes to dressing himself, he likes things just so. “I always like to be in jeans and a t-shirt, but then I also like to get dressed up when we go to events or even travel for games. [I like] wearing suits and driving a nice car.”

When Decker and his wife are in New York or New Jersey, they will celebrate a big win. Decker-style, that is, which is to say laid-back. After a run in the park he might stop by his barber for a shave and trim, and then enjoy a quiet moment at a café before heading out to a candlelit dinner. As seemingly spartan (and refreshing) as Decker’s off-field ways are, he does indulge. His wife is Italian born and the two enjoy all things gluten, especially a good Bolognese. And dinner is always finished with cappuccinos and dessert: “Cookies, definitely. Donuts, yeah.”

Done with the photo shoot, Decker grabs a cab to LaGuardia Airport. He is rushing to be with his family. Time together can be elusive, but he makes the transition from NFL athlete to hearth-seeker easily and quickly. Turns out, in nature, the secret to a cheetah’s hunting success is his ability to stop just as quickly as he can accelerate.

A cheetah has a large heart, and expanded lungs and nostrils, making them fine-tuned for speed. They can run at 70 miles per hour for a few hundred yards before exhaustion takes its toll and they must eat or perish. A cheetah’s survival is entirely based on its ability to catch its prey.

With soft 9.1-inch hands, a 6’3”, 215-pound frame, and a 4.56-second 40-yard dash time: you, Eric Decker, are a natural-born wide receiver. You catch prey. Consider your performance in week 17 of the 2014 NFL season, against division rivals the Miami Dolphins; with your precision timing and obscene hand-eye coordination, you, Mr. Decker, raked in 10 receptions for 221 receiving yards, a touchdown, and averaged 22 yards per catch. Not only a career high for you, the performance was only eight yards shy of a New York Jets franchise record for receiving yards in a single game.

In 2010, the Denver Broncos picked you in the third round of the NFL Draft. There is an intelligence test taken by all potential draft picks, and thousands of corporate-bound upstarts, to analyze aptitude and assess problem-solving skills, the so-called Wonderlic Test.  A score of 10 suggests literacy; the average NFL player scores a 20; the average Firefighter: 21; Librarian: 27; Chemist: 31. You, Eric Decker, scored a 43, the seventh best score all time amongst NFL players. What does all that mean when leaping for touchdowns and cashing seven-figure paychecks? We’ll leave that one to the test creators.

Decker is a creator of a different stripe: he immediately departs today’s East Village, NYC, photo shoot to join his family in Nashville, where his wife—country musician Jessie James Decker, who just gave birth to their second child—and their young daughter live in the off-season. Their careers keep them on the road more often than not, but the Deckers are homebodies. “Sometimes we have to push ourselves to get out of the house,” the NY Jet explains, “because we travel so much and are busy with our lifestyles it’s just so nice to be home.”

Like many from the school of discipline, Decker thrives in the morning—“It’s probably the best part of the day, when you’ve got so much energy, you’re so happy,”—when all the complexities are smoothed out and you can simply be. An ideal day off begins early with a fresh cup of coffee enjoyed on a porch overlooking the ocean—he prefers Cabo San Lucas or Florida—and then a lazy day at the beach with his wife and daughter before grilling some steaks and enjoying them with a nice bottle of wine al fresco. It goes without saying; Decker’s beach body is almost offensive.

In season, Decker is similarly ascetic; he starts his day by getting to the stadium a few hours early, taking in a soak in the hot tub, possibly alongside teammates Geno Smith and Sheldon Richardson, then on the field, tossing some balls to get the muscles warmed up, before finding a quiet spot, away from head coach Todd Bowles, to lay down, put his feet up, drape a towel over his face and meditate just before kickoff. Meditation is something Decker picked up from his college baseball days in Minnesota. “The positive reinforcements, the visualization part of it, help you to be successful, especially in baseball where it’s a ‘fear of failure’ sport. So if you can kind of be in that zone, so to speak, it just helps relax you. It just lets your athletic ability take over.”

Photographer: Christophe Kutner for defactoinc.com.

Stylist: Joshua Liebman at joshualiebman.com.

Groomer: Nate Rosenkranz for brydgesmackinney.com using Alterna Hair Care.

PhotographyAssistant: Fabio Paparelli.

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