WHERE'S THE BEEF (and What Are They Eating)?
As CEO of Private Client Insurance, a Florida-based agency providing custom insurance solutions to some of the NFL’s top athletes, Tim Radcliff is no stranger to realizing the importance of protecting his clients from harm. Without the proper protection, players risk seriously impeding their time on the field and the security of their lifestyle, as well as their overall health.
But as Tim spent more and more time with his clients, both in-season and off-season, in their locker rooms and in their homes, he began to notice an alarming fact. He discovered that within the NFL lurked a danger as fearsome and fraught with peril as being blindsided by a 300-lb lineman. And that danger wasn’t on the frozen turf of Lambeau Field. It was at the dining room table.
"I can remember having dinner with a certain NFL player at his home one time,” recalls Tim, "and he took a bag of pre-fabbed hamburgers from a grocery store out of his refrigerator and poured in a whole bottle of some kind of hot sauce. It was then that I said to myself, ‘I’m trying to protect these guys from having their careers end by getting injured on the field, and here they are trying to kill themselves from the inside-out.’ There had to be a better way."
One common denominator among Tim’s clients—especially the ones heading for Pro Bowl—was that they treated their health and body like a business. And one of the biggest concerns they all had was watching their bodies lose muscle mass as they changed their eating habits as the season progressed. When they aren’t eating meat and lean protein their workouts would suffer and the ability to recover sharply diminished as the season wore on. Linemen especially were struggling to keep their weight up because weight-loss for a lineman is a real issue.
Tim recalled that over the years his wife was an advocate of serving grass-fed beef to their family, which immediately set the wheels in motion. He now knew what these gladiators should be consuming that would be the most beneficial to them, to help them stay on the field longer and prolong their careers. And what he discovered was that it was not necessarily the beef itself, but what that cow was eating that made a tremendous difference in the quality of the beef. And that the difference between grain-fed and grass-fed animal products is dramatic, and that a sirloin steak from a grass-fed steer has about one half to one third the amount of fat as a similar cut from a grain-fed steer. He also learned that grass-fed meat has about the same amount of fat as skinless chicken, and when meat is this lean, it actually lowers your LDL cholesterol levels. After coupling in the fact that grass-fed beef gives you from two to six times more of a type of “good” fat called “omega-3 fatty acids, Tim knew what he had to do to keep the many NFL players he represented on the right nutritional track.
One of the biggest problems linemen face over a long season is the loss of muscle mass. The only way to stay at the top of our game is to rebuild that mass through what we eat. What I learned from Tim is that the beef we eat really only helps us when it comes from grass-fed cattle. I never really cared about what the cow ate, just how the beef tasted. Now I know that with grass-fed beef I am not only get great-tasting meals but I’m also rewarding my body, which is my most valuable asset.” ~ Jeff Allen, Houston Texans
But whereas many insurance professionals would have been simply content to hand out brochures touting the benefits of consuming grass-fed beef, or maybe some gift certificates to Whole Foods Market, Tim went that extra mile to ensure his clients change their eating habits.
Tim Radcliff bought a 150-acre cattle ranch and 32 head of cattle in western Maryland from an Amish farmer who had been raising grass-fed cattle for 130 years. Now christened Madhunter Farms (after his daughter, Madisyn, and son, Hunter), this is where Tim raises grass-fed cows, processes the meat, and distributes it predominately to his NFL clients.
His research also told him that not all beef is created equal, not even grass-fed beef. There is more to the process than just putting cows in a small area and feeding them hay. It’s Tim’s goal to bring integrity back to the process and producing the best beef possible, for both his clients and his family, was his mission.
Pro-Bowler David DeCastro, lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers, appreciates what Tim is trying to do. “In our business we always have people offering us cars and real estate opportunities, and investing advice,” says DeCastro. “But then someone comes along with 25-lbs of beef in their car, from cattle they actually raised and had processed themselves, because they know it’s actually good for you, now that makes a difference. Tim gets it because he took the time to do the research, to find out what we needed to eat to keep at the top of our game. And then he goes out and buys a cattle ranch. That is the very definition of ‘walking the walk’.”
Tim’s ranch, located in Grantsville, MD, started out with just 32 head of cattle, and he says it will continue to grow as his grass-fed beef has already done the road-trip from Foxboro, Massachusetts, to Arlington, Texas, to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
“There was, in some ways, hypocrisy in play,” says Tim. “For years I had been focused on providing protection to these players against on-field career-ending injuries, which extended to also protecting their homes, cars, and financial well-being. But the focus was always on keeping them healthy, instead of where it should have been… getting them healthy.
“In my own mind I knew I provided great insurance solutions that the players needed and expected,” Tim adds. “I just felt that I could do more for them. From my perspective, their business provides for me and my family, and I felt I owed it to them. Upon realizing I had the resources to actually make a difference, I knew I could expand on the way I protected our professional athletes, beyond the scope of their insurance policies. And by looking at the farm as a benefit to my players, and not just a profit center, I am able to pour resources into the farm that simply wouldn't make sense to most farmers.”
The Difference Between Grass-fed & Grain-fed Beef is Dramatic!
FROM OUR PASTURES...
...TO YOUR DINING TABLE
All our grass-fed animals are handled with the greatest of care during the processing stage to eliminate stress to the animal at all cost. In addition, once we begin the processing of the animal it is hung in a separate cooler to regulate the temp to 38 degrees. All our cows are hung for a very specific amount of time which we consider part of the “magic.” The beef, once aged properly at 38 degrees, is now ready for processing. This is where our consumers select the cuts of meats they desire, custom-crafted to their exact specifications. All our meat is vacuum packed and ready for consumption.
FROM THEIR PASTURES...
...TO CRAMPED FEEDLOT
Cattle from feedlots typically start out grazing in a pasture for the first six months and are then moved to feedlots where they are fed a concentrated diet of corn, soy and animal byproducts. They pack the cattle into cramped stalls to limit their activity. Using less energy the cattle gain weight more quickly but the inactivity causes the meat to contain more fat. We hope the image here clearly shows that not all grass-fed beef are created equal.