Mangled

Big John!

In celebration of Canada's 99th Grey Cup taking place this Sunday between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the BC Lions, I thought you could comment on TTMJ about the punishment and abuse that linemen's bodies take day in and day out on the football field and in the gym - and their stellar commitment to "get the job done" - No matter what.

I was reading this article about linemen mangling their hands after years of "just doing business" as they say- it is a true reflection of just how selfless linemen are - they are truly willing to do whatever it takes to lead their team to success - this article totally reminded me of you! I hope you enjoy the read!

Thanks for the great programming and the inspiring TTMJ articles!

Paul Alexander

MANGLED #1Paul,

Thanks for the heads up on the Grey Cup. I have been living in a fog as of late with the two additions to my family.

I enjoyed the article on mangled hands, as it put a positive spin on a not so positive result of playing professional football.

“Angus Reid can no longer tie his own tie. He also cannot do up his top button, or, for that matter, put shaving cream on his face. That, for the 11-year veteran centre of the B.C. Lions, is simply the cost of doing business, and he won’t complain.”

Most players end their careers with a long list of cumulative injuries that result in serious life long physical limitations.

Sadly, fingers are a relatively minor injury to have to live with. I rather take a bad few fingers than a back, hip or knee. You can still run and chase your kids with a bad finger, but a bad back…that will ruin the next few decades.

“What linemen don’t want the fans to do, however, is feel sorry for them.”

I am in full agreement with CFL players; never feel sorry for the athletes that play the game.

However, there has to be a responsibility by the professional leagues and unions to take care of their battered and beaten.

I think the NFL has for too long tried to sweep the many destroyed souls and bodies of past players under the rug. There is an attitude perpetuated by the teams, coaches, and even players that once you are done playing you don’t exist.

One of the most real moments in my NFL career came in 2007 with 3 games left in the season. My long time friend and teammate, Kyle Turley, had been battling a back injury for a few years and had started having problems with numbness in his right foot. No matter what he did he could not get feeling in his foot. When he couldn’t go anymore they put him on injured reserve and exercised the split in his contract. A split is a term referring to a clause in a player’s contracts where if they are put no injured reserve they are only paid a percentage of their total pay. Usually, only rookies and older veterans are made to sign split contracts.

After they informed him he was going on IR and he came to clean out his locker. I walked him out to his car and saw him drive away just as it started snowing.

Kyle was the #6 overall pick to the New Orleans Saints in the 1998 NFL Draft. Kyle was a rock star in the NFL and is most famous for tattoos, long hair, playing his own brand of hard nose football and chucking a helmet. Fuck, the guy turned down playing the Pro Bowl to be the Grand Marshall of the 2002 Mardi Gras Endymion parade.

Two words. Rock star.

MANGLED #2

For all the hoopla, expectation and excitement that accompanied his entrance in the NFL, his exit came 10 years later driving away on a gray Wednesday afternoon in the snow with one friend waving goodbye. Kyle was one of the best to play the game and injuries robbed him of his best years.

As I was reading the mangled fingers article, I got an email asking me to comment on a NY Times piece about NFL lineman, Kris Jenkins, duly named, Kris Jenkin’s View of Life in the N.F.L. Trenches.

And I just so happened to have a picture of me dishing out some of the punishment Kris talks about in the article. I played against Kris on more than a few occasions and he is a big strong man who played the game hard. I was on the field when he injured his shoulder against the Chiefs...the beginning of the end.

“NFL fans, people outside, they have no clue what goes on. This isn’t like playing Madden. This isn’t like being the popular kid in high school. When you do those things in the real world, and it don’t work out, you still have your health. The thing about football is you’re directly playing with your life, the quality of it and the longevity of it. The stakes are up there.”

MANGLED#3

“We consider football a gladiator sport because we understand you’re going to get hurt. You’re putting your life on the line. You might not die now, like in an old Roman arena, but 5, 10 years down the road, you could. You know that.”

Kris’ perception of the NFL is accurate. The sport of football leaves scores of damaged and battered players in its wake.

The demands of the game command it.

But this is where we go back to the first article; never feel sorry for the athletes.

But understand when a player’s holds out for a new contract or asks to be traded to a new team in hopes of more money. The only bargaining power a football player has is in the prime. I liken it to the 18-year-old hot chick that everyone wants to date. If she is smart she flies to Vegas on private jets and marries a nice guy with a fat wallet. That same girls waits till she is in her late 30’s and 40’s she will have fewer options.

My favorite quote in the article, “I get tired of seeing all these polished idiots. Chad Ochocinco. Terrell Owens. Go on Twitter and brag about how pretty your stomach muscles look. What happened to football?”

I couldn’t agree more. What the fuck happened?

“I want to get into public speaking, maybe put together a camp, for big guys, linemen in particular. Nobody prepares linemen for what will happen. Someone should.”

Kris is right. Players need to start training smarter, eating better and having any and all resources at their finger tips to aid in recovery.

Someone should be prepping football players for the demands of the game...CrossFit Football sounds like a good idea.

Maybe one day we will have a special site for just linemen.

John

John Welbourn is CEO of Power Athlete and creator of Johnnie WOD. He is a 9 year starter in the National Football League and NFL veteran. John was drafted with the 97th pick in 1999 NFL Draft and went on to be a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2003, appearing in 3 NFC Championship games, and for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2004-2007. In 2008, he played with the New England Patriots until an injury ended his season early and retiring in 2009. Over the course of his career, John has started over 100 games and has 10 play-off appearances. He was a four year lettermen while playing football at the University of California at Berkeley. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Rhetoric in 1998. John has worked with the MLB, NFL, NHL and other professional and Olympic athletes. He travels the world lecturing on performance and nutrition for Power Athlete and the CrossFit Speciality Seminar: Sports Specific Application. You can catch up with John as his personal blog on training, food and life, Talk To Me Johnnie or at Power Athlete.

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Posted in CrossFit Football, Football, Lifting Weights, Power Athlete, Talk to Me Johnnie | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

6 Responses to Mangled

  1. Nathan Greaves

    “Nobody prepares linemen for what will happen. Someone should.”

    Physical preparation means jack shit if youre not mentally prepared!
    Inspiring article and some real interesting viewpoints. Its the same in many sports (except soccer of course. Fuckin’ panzies!) Once you stop making the big corporations or “teams” big bucks, youre considered worthless. I cant see it changing for the better any time soon, not in these dark economic days.
    Much respect to Kyle and all the warriors like him!

  2. Dingo

    Great article John. As a former lineman myself I felt every word you typed.

  3. Hacksaw

    “I want to get into public speaking, maybe put together a camp, for big guys, linemen in particular. Nobody prepares linemen for what will happen. Someone should.”

    Kris is right. Players need to start training smarter, eating better and having any and all resources at their finger tips to aid in recovery.

    ~~~~~~

    Have you heard of the LeCharles Bentley O-Line Academy? He trains O-linemen from high school through pro’s and trains athletes in all facets of the game, both on the field and off the field, during career and in preparation of after football. After being a pro bowler and prized free agent, he tore his patella tendon on the first snap of training camp just after he signed with his hometown Browns, ending his career. It seems like he might be one of the perfect guys to lead such an academy. Here’s an article on his relationship at the academy with Alex Boone, now a tackle for the 49ers.

    http://www.cleveland.com/browns/index.ssf/2011/10/with_help_from_a_fellow_buckey.html

  4. Big Josh

    Speaking of the CFL, this is awesome. Still a lot of fight (literally) left in these guys.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/video/player/news/Sports_Minute/27373530#news/Sports_Minute/27373530

  5. Good stuff… I’ve been playing flag fb for the past couple years and play o-line… like Kris says in his article, extremely pussy in comparison to the real game (which i played through college) but its still fun as hell to play. Blocking is full contact so I gotta say its pretty violent on the line without pads. In my corporate days, my Monday mornings were like a scene out of fight club, crooked nose, split lip, black eye. Can only begin to appreciate the beating 60+ snaps in the NFL lays on a lineman.

    I’m suprised at the professional level coaches are overlooking recovery… Wow…

  6. Nathan Greaves

    @Big Josh
    Haha! I just saw that vid on the news. So much for Mangled!

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