NFL Pro Ron Saul became an advocate for diabetics worldwide
“My football mantra was always, ‘there’s no such thing as giving up,’” 68-year-old Ron Saul says. “This has become a mindset I have continued to apply off the field to help me stay on track with managing my type 2 diabetes.”
As a child, when Saul and his family watched football on their black-and-white television, he told his identical twin, Rich, and brother, Bill, that his dream was to play for the NFL. Knowing it would be a long road, he pressed on, playing college football for Michigan State University, where he earned his highest honor as an Academic All-American. Saul and his twin brother were drafted in 1970 by the Houston Oilers and the Los Angeles Rams, respectively. They were the first set of identical twin brothers in the NFL. Their brother, Bill, played for the league as well.
Saul was one of the Redskins’ original “Hogs” as offensive lineman from 1976 to 1982. His career culminated in a Redskin victory over the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII.
“When I played football, I’d get kicked out of all-you-can-eat restaurants,” Saul explains. “I wanted to keep my weight up.”
Saul weighed 280 pounds when he came out of the league. One day he noticed he was feeling sluggish and had vision problems.
“When a car in front of me put on its brake, I’d see six lights,” he explains. “I knew something was wrong.”
He made an appointment with his doctor and his blood sugar reading was 250. Thinking it was an aberration, he was tested a few days later at 340.
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) makes up over 90 percent of diabetes cases in the United States. Left uncontrolled, T2D can lead to skin infections, eye complications, neuropathy, foot problems, kidney disease and more.
A specialist put Saul on several different pills. None worked for him. Ultimately, he was prescribed insulin injections.
Looking for a different option, he was prescribed canagliflozin, a once-daily medication that can help manage blood sugar levels in adults.
“If someone has issues like low blood sugar, feeling sluggish, or mumbles their words, they should go to the doctor,” Saul says.
Proactive about learning ways to live a healthy lifestyle, Saul and wife, Robin, play golf together every chance they get and believe in cooking healthy meals at home.
“Diet and exercise have helped me along with medication,” he says. “That isn’t for everybody. There are risks and benefits for every medication.”
Saul, who now lives in Charles Town, West Virginia, has a lot of reasons to stay healthy: a wife, two sons, a daughter and eight grandchildren he calls his four ladies and four gentlemen.
Saul has partnered with the pharmaceutical company that manufactures canagliflozin to raise awareness for T2D.
“There is a lot of hope for diabetics,” he says. “I highly recommend that everybody [have their blood sugar levels] checked at least once a year.”