In October 2004, Carolina Panthers defensive end Mike Rucker readied himself to play a game by downing a can of Red Bull, like he always had in recent years.
The popular energy drink was his way of getting "amped" to play the Philadelphia Eagles. But in the first quarter, something didn't feel right. Rucker's heart was beating fast and seemed to be skipping a beat. Scared, he was forced to leave the game.
|Mad scientist? Marcus Stroud of the Jags mixes his pregame Red Bull with Mountain Dew Code Red. (US PRESSWIRE)|
"The Red Bull is gone," Rucker said. "My heart was racing from the stuff. So I decided to get away from it. I made a personal decision not to drink it. I'm not sure if it's what caused my problems since we really don't know, but I don't want to take any more chances.
"If you're sitting at your desk job and you need a boost, Red Bull is fine. But I don't think it's smart to drink it before you play football. I learned that lesson."
It's a lesson other NFL players might want to follow. Drinking Red Bull has become a pregame ritual in many locker rooms.
"Some guys drink it like water," St. Louis Rams receiver Torry Holt said. "Guys are looking for an edge."
Since the NFL banned ephedrine three years ago, rendering products with it illegal in the league's performance-enhancing drugs policy, players have turned elsewhere for that added boost.
They've found it in Red Bull, the leader in the now-burgeoning energy drink market. So what is Red Bull?
According to a company spokesman, Red Bull is a non-alcoholic energy drink with a unique formula and effect. It is composed of ingredients that enable the body to function at a high level even in situations of mental and physical strain. Red Bull's five primary ingredients include:
- Taurine, one of the most abundant free amino acids in the human body found in high concentrations in the muscle, brain, heart, retina and blood cells.
- Caffeine, a well-known stimulant that has been shown to significantly improve reaction speed and general attentiveness.