I guess the first question I should answer is why “Talk To Me Johnnie”?
As many of you may or may not know there was a time when I did not use a computer for more than paying some bills and looking at cars and motorcycles. I had no desire to read forums, personal websites, no Facebook or Twitter. I had played in the NFL for the a decade and the internet was full of cyber cowboys and armchair quarterbacks that from the comfort of their office or home would love to tear into what me and my teammates did every Sunday.
Once the off-season started it was training, traveling and relaxing. No time to get on the internet or start a website when their were weights to lift, yards to run and fun to be had.
The CrossFit Football method has roots going back to when I was a freshman in high school. I was fortunate to have started lifting weights with a guy named George Zangas in 1990. George was the US Powerlifting coach and had a company named Marathon Nutrition. George had created squat suits and knee wraps and if you powerlifted in the 80’s and 90’s you knew about George’s Super Suits. As a young kid I was fortunate to train with George through my senior year of high school and my good friend Taso Papadakis. Taso was a year old than me in school and taught me as much as anyone ever has about training. He also was one of the strongest people I had ever met. Taso’s younger bro, Petros, is a sports commentator and has a radio show called “The Petros and Money Show” on Fox Sports.
I left high school and went on to college on a football scholarship. I attended the University of California at Berkeley in the fall of 1994. My first strength coach was a guy named Eric Hohn. Coach Hohn had been a strength coach at University of Washington in their glory days, he was a former Olympic lifter and powerlifter and an excellent coach. In 1996 after a regime change, Todd Rice was brought in as the new strength coach. Todd brought in a whole new system surrounding the snatch, clean & jerk and mid-line stability. Long gone were the days of safety bar squats and powerlifting and mat drills. It was replaced with platforms, Eleiko bars, bumpers and sprint mechanics. We worked the Olympic movements, front squats, sprinting and metabolic conditioning. We did things like “on the minutes” and workouts to build work capacity. I had never felt better and at that point had never been stronger.
I was drafted with the 2 pick in the 4th round to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL draft in 1999. When I showed up I was introduced to two excellent coaches coaching in an impossible environment, Mike Wolf and Tom Kanavy. The weight room at Veterans Stadium would make any local YMCA look like the OTC. But we made due and lifted some heavy weights. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter where you train or what equipment you have it is about the effort and desire of the participants. We used trap bars, dumbbells, fat bars and grit to get strong. I probably made some of my best gains in the worse training environment you could imagine. But I was living in Philadelphia and if you are going to get strong in the City of Brotherly Love, you got to train like Rocky and Clubber Lange. On Friday afternoons during the season, we would crank Slip Knot, Metallica, Motorhead or Slayer while we worked up to 1 RMs on bench, fat bar curls and DB incline. To this day when I hear “Ace of Spades” I can hear Hugh Douglas screaming and acting crazy. Also at that time I had also been introduced to Dr. Mauro Di Pasquale by my friend Bob Sapp, and had started working him on my diet. This was my first encounter with the Anabolic Diet and Metabolic Diet.
After my second year I had grown tired of the cold and moved to Tampa, Florida for the off-season and met a guy just slightly older than me, Raphael Ruiz. I ended up living in Tampa for 6 years just to train with Raphael and get better under his watchful eye. Raphael is one of the best strength coaches in the world and is an intricate part of CrossFit Football program. Raphael’s training was a mixture of Todd Rice’s metabolic conditioning, Olympic and functional movements mixed with the tough edginess that I had grown to love in Philly with Wolfie and the Colonel.
In 2004, I was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs and I decided to return to Southern California and my family. I had been gone for almost 10 years and I bought a house near my brothers and decided to set up shop. The only place I could find that would fit my needs was in Carson, CA at Athletes’ Performance with Mark Verstegen. I ended working with another two very good coaches in Vaso Chronis and Anthony Slater. These guys were excellent and brought balance back into my training. I never did agree with the Vertamax as a substitute for Olympic lifting and core stability could be a substitute for banging heavy iron but their training was on the mark.
A few years later I parted ways with Athletes’ Performance and I was left up to my own devices, so I started training at a local gym with an ex-football player and body builder. My training was going well but I felt something was missing. I was missing the grittiness of Philly, the metabolic conditioning of college, the dynamic and explosive nature of Raphael, the speed and balance of Athletes’ Performance and the dusty garage that I had started in all those years ago. So I decided to create my own training center. In searching for my own gym I attended a certification in Santa Cruz. Shortly there after, I started training at a CrossFit gym in Newport Beach and everything came full circle. I was back in a garage style gym with platforms, lifting heavy weights, building work capacity through metabolic conditioning and sprinting and training with my two brothers and friends.
The evolution of years of training have led to the CrossFit Football program or what we refer to as the Power Athlete. On the Football site you will see the term “Power Athlete” used, this term lends claim to this style of training working to create powerful athletes. Hence, the Forging Powerful Athletes tag line.
Talk To Me Johnnie is the just the explanation and dialogue portion of the program.