The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY SPORTS

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

This post is sponsored by USAA, Official Salute to Service Partner of the NFL.

For many of us, the NFL has been a part of our lives as long as we can remember. Even for people who don’t watch or follow football, the Super Bowl is an annual event that brings the country together. Others will remember their father or some other loved one wearing their favorite team’s gear throughout their childhood. 

At the very least, there are celebrities, trendsetters and fashion fads that made certain NFL shirts, hats, jackets and other merchandise so popular, it became entrenched in our collective memory. 

Here are 10 legendary pieces of NFL merchandise: 

1. The 1990s Starter jacket 

In the mid-1990s, it seemed as if everyone in the world had a windbreaker-style pullover Starter jacket, emblazoned with the logo of the Dallas Cowboys or Oakland Raiders. Even people who never followed a football game or team in their lives rocked one at some point. There were so many of these jackets in America, many became hand-me-downs, worn for years after their popularity waned.

2. Late 1980s Snapback Raiders hat

On the surface, there’s not much special about the hat. There was no logo, only had two colors and there was a version for every team in every sport. But Dr. Dre of the rap group NWA wore it, and its popularity across the country skyrocketed. The Raiders’ name, team colors and – later – logo became more of a symbol of a lifestyle than about just the sport or team itself. 

3. Mike Ditka’s sweater vest

Arguably one of the most memorable NFL coaches ever, “Da Bears” coach Mike Ditka had a presence about him that you could feel through the television screen. The consummate professional head coach, Ditka could often be seen sporting a crisp white collared shirt, a tie, and sometimes a jacket – and also a blue and orange sweater vest with BEARS emblazoned across the front. 

When Ditka sported a similar vest featuring the colors and name of Chicago’s rival Green Bay Packers in a 2015 McDonald’s commercial, many Bears fans believed the team was cursed. 

4. The Starter hat

If it seems like a lot of the most memorable NFL swag came from the Starter brand, you aren’t crazy. While Starter didn’t have a corner on the sports merchandise market, its marketing team turned the MTV generation into Starter fanatics – even if they weren’t into sports. Hip-hop legend DJ Jazzy Jeff even had a series of commercials instructing people on how to properly personalize and wear their Starter hats.

5. San Diego Chargers’ powder blue jersey

The American flag being featured at a NFL game
(U.S. Navy Photo)

The Chargers were never the most popular NFL franchise in America. They weren’t even the most popular NFL franchise in San Diego. But the uniform that became a throwback jersey, hearkening back to the Chargers earliest seasons in Los Angeles, caught on across the country as the franchise revived the look for the league’s 1994 75th Anniversary Season. 

6. Bill Belichick’s hooded sweatshirt

If Bill Belichick showed up to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom wearing a sleeveless hoodie, no one would bat an eye. The five-star general of the National Football League is also the most successful person ever to be associated with the NFL. 

Belichick has more Super Bowl rings than the Pittsburgh Steelers and is likely (and deservedly) the highest-paid coach in the league. So he can afford to wear more than a hoodie with the sleeves cut off, but is so badass that no one will ever question him when he doesn’t. Not even the President. 

7. The Cheesehead

Fans in NFL merchandise, cheering on the Green Bay Packers
(Wikimedia Commons)

While many teams have tried to recreate the Green Bay Packers’ success with giant foam versions of their own logo or mascot, no one has had more cultural success with foam than Green Bay – especially considering their name is based in the meatpacking industry.

But if there’s anything Wisconsin is known for, it’s known for cheese (and its citizens colloquially called “cheeseheads”). After a Brewers fan showed up to a Milwaukee game in 1987 sporting an ironic homemade hunk of cheese on his head, the look caught fire and spread to other sports around the state. 

8. The Terrible Towel

Every Steelers fan worth their salt has one, and it doesn’t matter if they’ve been to a game at Three Rivers Stadium or Heinz Field. When the Steelers need their fans to jump in and help them win the game, you can count on seeing thousands of these yellow hand towels being waved around the stadium, whether Pittsburgh is the home team or not. 

9.  Don Schula’s polo shirts

The polo shirt has been in American fashion for around 100 years now, but slapping an NFL logo on them and calling it a professional look came into full effect when the league’s winningest coach ever wore them to lead the Miami Dolphins to a string of successful seasons, including the league’s only perfect one. An Ohio National Guard veteran who died at age 90 in 2020, Schula’s legacy endures to this day.

10. Walter Payton’s headband

There’s no doubt that the nine-time Pro Bowler is one of the greatest players to ever take the field. If the legendary running back known as “Sweetness” was immortalized in a photo, he was usually seen sporting a distinctive white headband that stood out against the deep blue of his Chicago Bears jersey. 

Though Payton died in 1999, his legacy as a humanitarian lives on the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, given every year to the player who does extraordinary volunteer or charity work.

This post is sponsored by USAA, Official Salute to Service Partner of the NFL.

MIGHTY SPORTS

7 fat-burning workouts that aren’t boring

For some guys, the structure and routine of hitting the gym is exactly what they need to keep their fitness on track. For others, it’s a slog. The space is dark, the treadmills relentless, and the music mind-numbing. You’d rather be outside, shooting hoops with your boys. Which, actually, you should be, since a pick-up game of basketball burns more calories and builds more muscles than any 30-minute session on the elliptical ever could.

If sports excite you more than spin class, and the idea of scoring points matters more than how much you can bench press, consider these activities that emphasize team spirit and gamesmanship while getting you, incidentally, super fit.


The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

(Photo by Christopher Burns)

1. Tennis

At 600 calories an hour, you’ll definitely be feeling the burn as you channel your inner Nadal. What’s more, the lateral movements — something your body is not used to — strengthens your glutes, quads, calves, and core, while mastering your stroke is excellent for developing ripped shoulder and arm muscles.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

(Photo by Edoardo Busti)

2. Soccer

A sneaky way to disguise a running workout, you’ll benefit from exercising with your buddies on soft turf. Few activities tax the lungs and heart the way running does, so you’ll reap the benefits of a monster aerobic workout while still honing your coordination and motor skills. The sport burns about 300 calories for every 30 minutes of field time.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

(Photo by Tamarcus Brown)

3. Basketball

The quintessential pickup basketball game is so popular because it is both exceptionally simple (you just need a ball and hoop), and also enticingly precise (the satisfaction of hitting a three-pointer is hard to beat). The calorie burn is on par with tennis (roughly 600 an hour), but the rhythmic agility and closer physical contact of b-ball means you work a little more on balance and flexibility.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

(Photo by Elizeu Dias)

4. Volleyball

There are indoor leagues where you can play in a gymnasium in the winter, but nothing beats beach volleyball for that emotional, summer-is-finally-here high. (You don’t have to live at the beach either, New York City has large courts in the middle of Central Park.) You’ll burn around 400 calories an hour in this spirited game, developing shoulder and arm muscles, eye-hand coordination, and explosive power from your jump shots, all the while protecting your bones by landing on soft sand.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

(Photo by Jose Francisco Morales)

5. Baseball and Softball

Team camaraderie rules this sport, so if socializing is an important carrot for getting you to exercise, consider spending an hour or two, a few nights a week, in the dugout with your buds, swapping jokes and de-stressing while building a solid fitness base. The on-off nature of the sport means you burn fewer calories (around 350 per hour), but you’ll get moderate cardio from running the bases, and reasonable upper-body strength from working on your swing.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

(Photo by Josh Rocklage)

6. Ultimate Frisbee

No longer the pastime of overgrown collegiates, ultimate frisbee is a legit sport recognized by the International Olympic Committee. More importantly, it is a game on nonstop running, leaping, reaching, and throwing. This full-body workout burns about 500 calories an hour, while developing reflexes, hand-eye coordination, and some serious tumbling skills.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

(Photo by Riley McCullough)

7. Football

Strength, explosiveness, mental toughness and a desire to be pummeled by large men are at the core of this sport. In rec leagues, the physical contact is often moderated (see: flag football), so if you’re looking for the adrenalin rush minus the bruising, know which rules you’re playing by before you sign up. While calorie burn varies significantly depending on the position your play, you’ll definitely benefit from an increase in strength, flexibility, and range of motion through warm-up drills and stretches.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Auburn superstar is expected to be a Top 10 NFL Draft pick. He’s also an Army brat.

While the NFL Draft this year might look a little different courtesy of the pandemic, the level of talent, anticipation and excitement we’ve come to expect remains the same, even if it will be done from the basement of current NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell. (But first, let’s raise a quick toast to this moment of gratitude we’re all experiencing just from having something sports-related to talk about again). And in this year’s NFL Virtual Draft, there’s no one we’re more excited to watch than Army brat Derrick Brown.


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Sure, this is the first (and hopefully only) time the NFL is hosting a virtual draft but we’ve played in enough fantasy football leagues to know that at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter where you pick your team from (in this case it might be in a coach’s family room or kitchen). It’s all about who ends up on your roster before that first kick off.

There is so much talent in this year’s pool. Of course you’ve got Heisman Trophy winner and LSU standout Joe Burrow, who passed for over 5,600 yards with 60 touchdowns – the most TDs in a single season in NCAA history. No one will be a bit surprised if he goes first to the Bengals — really, the bigger shock would be if he wasn’t the number one pick. Ohio State juniors Chase Young and Jeff Okudah are two of the best defensive prospects this year. In fact, you’ve got a lot of great juniors this year: Tua Tagovailoa out of Alabama, Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons, Tristan Wirfs from Iowa. All excellent picks.

All things considered — talent, integrity, character and commitment — Auburn’s Derrick Brown is our top pick to watch. At 6’5″ and 317 pounds, he looks like a Marvel superhero, and on the field he definitely acts like one. His football credentials stand on their own: U.S. Army All-American Bowl Defensive Player of the Year. Georgia Sports Writers Association Player of the Year as a high school senior with 106 tackles, 42 for loss, and 12 sacks at Lanier High. Played in all 13 games as a true freshman (11 tackles, 1.5 for loss) and then became a full-time starter for the Tigers in 2017 (56 tackles, nine tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, two forced fumbles in 14 games). SEC coaches voted him second-team all-conference in 2018, when he started all 13 games, compiling 48 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and two pass breakups from the middle of Auburn’s defense. First-team Associated Press All-American, first-team All-SEC honors and finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award and Outland Trophy after posting 55 tackles, tying for the team lead with 12.5 tackles for loss, collecting four sacks and four pass breakups and causing two fumbles.

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Brown with the SEC’s Student Leadership Council.

Derrick Brown – Twitter

Simply put: Brown is a beast.

But there’s so much more to him than just football. Brown is also a servant leader, being selected to the SEC’s Student Leadership Council in 2017. Most impressively, Brown won the 2019 Lott IMPACT Trophy, which goes to the defensive player who has the biggest IMPACT (Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity).

Sure, Brown honed those skills on the field, but it started at home. Brown’s father served in the Army as a paratrooper before becoming a Law Enforcement Officer.

See the impact his father’s service had on him here in a video produced by USAA:

Log in on Vimeo

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Good luck, Derrick! Military families everywhere are cheering for you.

MIGHTY SPORTS

This veteran-backed NASCAR team is heading to Daytona

It’s shake and bake, veteran style. NASCAR is well known for being military friendly. When the green flag waves at Daytona this weekend, it will usher in the new NASCAR season with a really special story. The crown jewel event is the Daytona 500. On Saturday, the day before the 500, there is a race called the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 which ushers in the Xfinity Series season. One of the cars racing to win the 300 should be the favorite of all military supporters around the country.


The Our America Dream Team car won’t have the familiar sponsors you see on all the other race cars. Instead, they will feature veteran-owned businesses as the car trades rubber with all the cars on the track.

How is this possible? The team crowdfunded to raise money so they could race. In return for donations, veteran-owned businesses will be featured on the car racing around one of the world’s most famous race tracks during one of racings marquee weekends.

The car will be driven by Colin Garrett. Garrett said, “I’m so grateful for the support from everyone who’s backed the team. We’re excited that fans and military-owned small businesses will be able to see the car on the track and feel proud, knowing they had a hand in us racing. When I started racing, my dad said he wanted me to find a way to use it to make a difference, so I could look back on it and know I helped someone. I wasn’t quite 15 at the time and didn’t really get it, but now I do. Working with the military community is the perfect fit, and it’s cool that it ties in with my brothers’ Army careers.”

Team owner Sam Hunt added, “It feels good to know we’re racing for something bigger than ourselves. We love racing, but the National Awareness Campaign makes it mean so much more.”

Lisa Kipps-Brown, the marketing strategist behind the team who took time to answer questions about the team.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

WATM: Where did the idea of “Our American Dream Team” come from?

Kipps-Brown: Two ideas converged to create “Our American Dream Team:”

  • The belief that hard work, talent, and ingenuity could compete at the professional levels of NASCAR was fostered by the families of driver Colin Garrett and team owner Sam Hunt.
  • At the same time, the Garrett family had been running a National Awareness Campaign throughout the 2019 NASCAR season to promote the free services offered by Racing For Heroes, a nonprofit founded by Army Special Forces CW3 Mike Evock (ret.). Their holistic services include mental physical health treatments, job placement, and motorsports therapy. Since over 25% of active-duty military are NASCAR fans and about 18% of NASCAR fans are Veterans, it’s the perfect platform to reach the military community.

We realized that the American Dream that we believe in and are chasing is often hard for those in the military community to achieve. Since we wanted to expand our National Awareness Campaign for 2020, helping those who have given so much achieve their own American Dream was the perfect fit to complement what we were already doing with Racing For Heroes. We decided to take a leap of faith and commit to crowdfunding the team to replace as much corporate sponsorship money as possible, which would free us up to promote issues important to the military community and companies owned by Veterans and military spouses.

WATM: Tell us a little about the team owner?

Kipps-Brown: 26-year-old Sam Hunt dreamed of starting a NASCAR team after racing throughout his childhood. After he graduated from college, the late J.D. Gibbs, whom Sam knew through his family, gave Sam his first two cars to help him get started. Sam started his team in 2018, living in his van behind the shop and couch surfing with friends to be able to afford the business. He and driver Colin Garrett started racing together that year in the KN Pro Series, and realized they had something special working together.

WATM: Tell us about your driver?

Kipps-Brown: Unlike most NASCAR drivers, 19-year-old Colin Garrett didn’t grow up racing karts or in a racing family. Yet, in just his third season of racing, he was historic South Boston (VA) Speedway’s 2017 Limited Sportsman Division Champion and broke the track’s qualifying speed record twice. In 2018 he started racing with team owner Sam Hunt in the KN Pro Series and continued racing Super Late Model. What started out as a 3-race deal with Sam turned into a great fit, and they raced KN together the rest of the 2018 season and all of 2019. In the fall of 2019, they decided they wanted to make the leap to the Xfinity Series.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

WATM: Do you have any connections to the military? Why did they partake in this endeavor?

Kipps-Brown: Both of Colin’s brothers are Active Duty Army, one currently deployed to Korea. One of Sam’s best friends is a Navy SEAL. I am a milspouse whose husband is retired Navy with 26 years of service, 3 of which were in the Vietnam War. Combating Veteran suicide and helping service members transition back to civilian life is an issue that’s personally important to them. Colin knows it could be his brothers who need help, and I have experienced how difficult the transition can be for Veterans and military families.

WATM: How hard was it to raise money?

Kipps-Brown: We knew it was a long shot, but we also had faith that we could do it. We believed in the loyalty of grassroots NASCAR fans and the power of large numbers of people who could give any amount. Nothing was too small. Our friends, family, and existing fans kicked it off for us, backing the team because they believed in us and our dream. We ended up raising enough to not only race in Daytona, but also pay for stem cell treatments for a Veteran through Racing For Heroes. Crowdfunding needs a crowd, though, and we’re really just now tapping into the power of the military community.

WATM: What were the biggest obstacles?

Kipps-Brown: Connecting with the crowd was by far our biggest obstacle. People are jaded, and for good reason. They’ve seen too many people use Veterans’ issues to further their own cause without giving anything back to the community. The most important connection so far has been when Stephanie Brown, founder of The Rosie Network, introduced us to Marine veteran Greg Boudah, founder of Jewelry Republic. Jewelry Republic, where Veterans buy jewelry, became a sponsor on the car for Daytona, and Greg has been instrumental in getting the grassroots movement going. He’s activated his network of vetrepreneurs like Chris (Smurf) McPhee (retired Green Beret – Green Beret Media) and Michael Whitlow (Marine veteran – Vetbuilder) to help us get the word out. Once people get to know us, they realize we’re part of the military family, that we’re not just asking for money, and we really do want to make a difference. When we get over that hurdle, everyone responds with excitement.

WATM: How many veteran businesses donated?

Kipps-Brown: We have about 50 Veteran Business Advocates so far. When a vet- or milspouse-owned business gives and provides their logo, we promote them on our website, tell their story on our Facebook page, and provide a Veteran Business Advocate badge for their website. It’s an opportunity for them to participate in a national NASCAR marketing campaign, something that would normally never be available to small businesses. There’s never been anything like this done before, and we have plans in the works for other ways of helping grow military-owned businesses. Stay tuned 🙂

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

WATM: How did you get involved with this? What other outside help did they get.

Kipps-Brown: It’s really been me, Colin’s dad, and the staff of my web marketing strategy company, Glerin Business Resources. I started working with Colin and his dad in November of 2018. A couple of months after that Racing For Heroes happened to contact me, wanting to hire me to develop a National Awareness Campaign for them.

When I visited them at Virginia International Raceway and saw all they do, I was literally in tears. I couldn’t believe the extent of their free services, and the fact that they were holistic was even better. I remembered how hard it was for my husband when he retired, losing that sense of mission and knowing he was part of something that made a difference. I just couldn’t bear the thought of taking money away from their programs. I called Colin’s dad, Ryan, as soon as I left, and he readily agreed to roll Racing For Heroes into the work I was doing with them.

Just after that, he and I began working with Steve Sims, author of Bluefishing: The Art of Making Things Happen, as our business coach. Steve’s encouragement, input, and challenging us to think differently were instrumental in the evolution of the team.

I think the fact that this whole campaign started with a call from Racing For Heroes is so cool; it’s really an organic effort that was constantly changing throughout the season. We’re proud that a movement that started in a small, rural town in Virginia has gone national and is becoming a disrupter in the racing industry.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

WATM: Tell us about the race the car will be in?

Kipps-Brown: The NASCAR Racing Experience 300 is the most prestigious NASCAR Xfinity Series of the year. The 300-mile race is held at Daytona International Speedway the day before the Daytona 500, and is broadcast live on TV and radio.

WATM: Are there future plans for any other races?

Kipps-Brown: We intend to race as many Xfinity races on the national stage this year as we can fund, and we plan to be prepared to run the full 2021 season. Colin will also be running NASCAR Super Late Model and Late Model at the grassroots level, like his home track South Boston Speedway. The smaller tracks actually give him a better opportunity to interact directly with fans, which is great for helping communicate the free services available.

The NASCAR Racing Experience 300 rolls out at 2:30 p.m. EST this Saturday, February 15th. Tune in and cheer on the Our America Dream Team!

More information on the team and its cause can be found here.

Featured

From Annapolis to Miami: Navy midshipman drafted by the Dolphins

Last night, the Miami Dolphins drafted one of the most dynamic players to ever take the field for the United States Naval Academy. If you have seen Malcolm Perry play, it should be no surprise that he is being given a chance to play in the NFL.


From Annapolis to Miami! Malcolm Perry selected by the @MiamiDolphins. #NavyFB | #BuiltDifferentpic.twitter.com/pkrOIOUwD2

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From Annapolis to Miami! Malcolm Perry selected by the Miami Dolphins!

The Navy quarterback is being drafted as a wide receiver as Dolphin scouts were deeply impressed with Perry’s athleticism which was on full display at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine. Perry was only the second midshipman to be ever invited to the Combine and showed off his versatility as both a passer and receiver. Listed at 5’9″ and weighing 186 pounds, Perry ran a 4.63 in the 40-yard dash.

As Navy football fans probably know, Perry switched back and forth from quarterback and slot back while at the Naval Academy. The Dolphins hope that he will be able to develop into a route runner and be used in the slot. His senior year, he set numerous Naval Academy records as he led Navy’s triple option offense to an 11-2 record and another win over Army. Perry rushed for over 2,000 yards and scored 21 rushing touchdowns while also throwing for seven.

Malcolm Perry 2019 Navy Highlights

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Malcolm Perry 2019 Navy Highlights

For those of you wondering about his service commitment, the rules are different than what they used to be. Defense Secretary Donald Esper announced in November 2019 that service academy cadets and midshipmen could either defer their military service or pay pack the cost of tuition if they were drafted in a professional sports draft.

Perry comes from a military family. Both his parents served in the 101st Airborne division and are Gulf War veterans. Perry grew up an Army brat and always thought about enlisting but never gave thought to going to a service academy, especially the one in Annapolis.

“Growing up, I thought being in the military was the coolest thing,” he said. “I just always figured I would enlist, though I didn’t know much about the academies themselves.” But Perry’s athleticism in high school bought him the attention of both the Navy and Air Force Academies and he ended up going Navy.

ESPN had cameras in Perry’s house (as with most notable draft prospects) because of the virtual nature of the 2020 NFL Draft due to the coronavirus outbreak. It is awesome they did because, we can see Perry and his family’s reaction to him being taken. Those Army parents look really nice in Navy gear, don’t they?

Here it is! Congrats #malcolmperry and family – and @MiamiDolphins!!pic.twitter.com/QzKRYssuUp

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MIGHTY SPORTS

3 reasons Washington’s football team should be called the Redtails

The Washington Redskins are no more, and this Marine thinks it’s time for the Washington Redtails.


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Earlier this week, it was announced that the Washington Redskins will be getting a new name, in a decision that has proven a bit controversial in the political arena. From my vantage point, gleefully removed from the politics of it all and without a real stake in Washington’s football franchise, I welcome this change with open arms for a few important reasons.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

Recognizing the heroism of the brave Black Americans the “Redtails” name comes from

If you’re not already familiar with the story of the real Redtails (also sometimes called the Red Tails), it really is one worth honoring in the most American of sports. Back in World War II, the United States military was still segregated. Black Americans, while expected to serve, were not allowed in many combat roles.

You may not have heard the name “Redtails” before, but you’ve almost certainly heard of the Tuskegee Airmen. These brave pilots were the U.S. Army Air Corps’ (the predecessor to the Air Force) first Black aviators, earning the Tuskegee name from the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama that they trained on.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

(U.S. Air Force photo by Delanie Stafford)

Many white bomber pilots didn’t know that the legendary Redtails were indeed Black pilots at the time, but thanks to their fighting prowess, it soon didn’t matter. Prejudice be damned, the Redtails were often requested for particularly daring missions, as they’d gained a reputation for their courage and technical skill. In all, the Redtails flew more than 15,000 individual sorties over Europe and North Africa during the war, and more than 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses were awarded to the Tuskegee Airmen.

Here at Sandboxx News, one of our contributors is actually the grandson of one of those Tuskegee Airmen. Harry Alford writes about entrepreneurship in the military sphere, and is the co-founder of Humble Ventures.

“I’m a lifelong Washingtonian and I’ve never felt comfortable supporting a team with such a disparaging, racial and offensive name for a mascot. I am very supportive of the name change,” Alford explains.
The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

Members of the first graduating class. Left to right: Captain Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., second lieutenants Lemuel R. Custis, George Spencer Roberts , Charles H. DeBow, Mac Ross

“In particular, I’m especially excited at the potential of the new name, Redtails. As the grandson of one of the original five Tuskegee Airman, Charles DeBow, this would mean the world to me. The name change signifies a new path forward while honoring the past as well as those who currently serve our country today.”

In a very real way, the Tuskegee Airmen of the 332nd Fighter Group, flying planes with bright red painted tails (hence the name Redtails), not only proved to be some of the most heroic aviators of the war, they also helped bring about an end to military segregation. If you ask me, that’s a pretty cool namesake for a football team playing out of America’s capital city.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

Maj. Shawna R. Kimbrell, 555th Fighter Squadron (USAF)

Paying respect to the military community

In America today, the fact that the Redtails were pioneering Black aviators really matters, but these brave pilots fall into another important socio-economic category that the former Washington Redskins can honor: military service personnel.

America’s Armed Forces truly do represent a vibrant cross sections of American cultures and backgrounds, but it has become increasingly apparent in recent studies that America’s military is largely made up of people from what you might call a “warrior class” of Americans. About 80% of those who choose to volunteer to serve in America’s military have a direct family member who served as well. In other words, for most of us, serving in the military could be seen as getting into the “family business.” I’m no exception–my father served in Vietnam as an Army medic and my grandfather was a Marine who fought in the Pacific theater of World War II.

By acknowledging a heroic World War II unit by naming the football franchise that plays in our nation’s capital the Redtails, the former Washington Redskins could send a message to America’s Black communities and service members of any color: We honor the service and sacrifice of our sons and daughters in service, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or heritage.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

(Piqsels)

It could attract new Americans to a great sport

In today’s social media-charged climate, everything is seen as a political statement; whether its watching football on a Sunday, buying beans at your local grocery store, or watching a musical on Disney+. As a guy that’s spent my entire adult life analyzing foreign policy and media manipulation, I find our love affair with waging war on one another troubling, so I try not to participate.

You may have political reasons you choose to skip football. You may have political reasons you choose to watch football. I just love football and prefer to leave the politics on Twitter.

I grew up in a fairly poor family, and we didn’t have the opportunity to do much of anything just because it was fun. Football, however, was always the exception. My dad and older brother both played football before me, and when it was my time to suit up, I reveled in the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself. I loved playing football, complete with the broken bones and concussions I ended up with, for many of the same reasons I loved the Marine Corps. To me, my team was more important than I was, and playing well for my team was my chance at doing something that really mattered in my little slice of the world.

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I continued playing football all the way into the Marine Corps. (Sandboxx)

Yup, football is a violent sport and you can get hurt (Lord knows I did), but you also get to experience the grueling exhaustion of overtime, the thrill of a hard-fought victory and the stinging pain of failure. Football forced me to engage with and appreciate complex emotions at a young age, and made me a better man, and Marine, for it. Today, watching football spurs that part of my brain that remembers padding up to play ball from the peewee leagues to my back-to-back championship run in the Marine Corps… and I’m grateful for it.

For young Americans growing up in an increasingly chaotic world, a positive change like honoring the Tuskegee Airmen could be just the push they need to throw the game on one Sunday. For some small percentage of folks, that experience may mature into a love for the game that I hold so dear.

A new name that pays respect to a downtrodden American community, that honors military service and sacrifice, and can entice non-football watching Americans to give the sport I love a try? The Washington Redtails (or Red Tails) seems like a no-brainer to me.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Watch the best intro to the Army-Navy Game ever made

On Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, CBS will once again present the Army-Navy Game, live, at noon EST. Army and Navy already released the uniforms they’re sporting this year, troops around the world are uploading their spirit videos to join in on the smack talk, and, hopefully, CBS Sports will have another outstanding introduction to the game like the one they made in 2017.


This 2018 matchup is the 119th time Army and Navy will take the field in what many call “The Greatest Rivalry In Sports.” Each side will have its students, alums, and military fans cheering on — both in the stadium in Philadelphia and wherever the U.S. Military operates. But as remarkable as the storied game is, the day is truly all about the cadets and midshipmen who are on the field and in the stands that day. Few things can accurately describe the all-encompassing magnitude of a young person choosing life in a service academy quite like the energy of the Army-Navy Game.

Attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point or the Naval Academy at Annapolis doesn’t just affect the person who wants to go, who competes with so many others for a coveted spot. It affects everyone in their lives, as it has for generations.

And CBS Sports did an amazing job of describing the power of such a decision.

The entry requirements for both of these service academies are rigid — they won’t take just anyone. A candidate must be between 17 and 23 years old and must not be pregnant or have any dependents. The candidate can’t be married and must be a United States citizen. Beyond that, a candidate must be nominated by an official of the U.S. government, which is a sitting Representative, Senator, or Vice President of the United States.

Beyond an excellent high school record and standardized test scores, the candidate must also be in above average physical condition and must successfully complete a Candidate Fitness Assessment for their desired service academy. Needless to say, candidates aren’t just your average American college-age student before they get in.

And before you start thinking this intro video is a little dramatic, consider the ranks academy graduates will be joining.

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(U.S. Army)

The cadets of West Point and the midshipmen of Annapolis share a lineage with a “who’s who” of American Military History. West Point has graduated names like William Tecumseh Sherman, Ulysses S. Grant, John J. Pershing, George S. Patton, Douglas MacArthur, H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and even current Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

Other notable alums include Mike Krzyzewski, current head coach of the Duke Men’s Basketball Team, who has led the Blue Devils to five national championships and even coached the U.S. Men’s Basketball Team in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Summer Olympics.

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(U.S. Navy)

Midshipmen have their own stunning heritage. Former President Jimmy Carter is a USNA alum who helped pioneer the development of nuclear submarines. Former Arizona Senator John McCain is an alum, along with football great Roger Staubach, Basketball legend David Robinson, billionaire tycoon H. Ross Perot, and the first American in space, Astronaut Alan Shepard.

Along with its distinguished alumni come 21 ambassadors, 24 members of Congress, two Nobel Prize winners, 73 Medal of Honor Recipients, 54 astronauts, and countless scholars.

MIGHTY SPORTS

7 barbell moves you need to get strong

You’ve seen those dedicated men at the gym, twisting and manipulating that long tube of steel like cheerleaders with their batons. They can perform countless moves with endless permutations and seem to be practicing at all hours. There’s not a dad bod among them. Likely, this is not you. And that’s totally fine, because in reality, despite the variations and combinations of moves one can do with a barbell, there are really just 7 that you need to know for the kind of functional strength you need. You might not walk away with big arms or six-pack abs, but you will be fit and spry — which is all you really need.


1. Barbell curls

Hold the barbell with both hands, palms facing forward, spaced about shoulder-width apart, arms straight. Exhale, bend elbows, and raise the bar to your chest. Inhale and release. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

Pro tip: For maximum biceps engagement, keep your wrists still and elbows tucked at your sides while performing the curl.

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(Photo by Victor Freitas)

2. Barbell row

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your legs and back straight, bend forward and grab the barbell with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart. Raise your chest slightly to lift barbell an inch off the floor (arms still straight). From this starting position, squeeze your shoulder blades together, bend elbows, and raise the barbell to your chest. Release. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

Pro tip: Initiate the movement by pulling your shoulders back, keeping the motion smooth. If you have to use a “bouncing” motion to raise the bar, it means the weight is too heavy; go down 10 pounds.

3. Barbell squat

Using a squat rack, place the barbell at chest height. Step under it, feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly turned out. Center the bar on your shoulders and grasp it with both hands shoulder-width apart. Straighten your legs to lift the bar out of its hold and take a small step back. Driving your heels into the floor, bend your knees, and imagine that you are sitting back in a chair. Counteract the backward movement of your hips with a slight hinge forward with your chest, keeping your back straight. Squat until thighs are parallel to the floor. Squeeze glutes and engage your hamstrings to return to standing. Do 2 sets of 10.

Pro tip: Always maintain control of the movement; only lower to a comfortable position. Be sure to place the safety catch at knee height before you begin, in case you need it!

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(Photo by Brad Neathery)

4. Barbell upright row

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms straight, barbell grasped in front of you with both hands shoulder-width apart. Engaging your core to keep your back straight, bend elbows and raise the bar to high-chest height. (Your elbows will bend out to the side and upward.) Release. Do 3 sets of 10.

Pro tip: To avoid excess neck strain, focus on keeping your neck long and relaxed as you raise the bar.

5. Barbell hip thrust

Lie on your back on a bench, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Place the barbell across your lap, directly over your hips. Inhale deeply, and as you exhale, squeeze your glutes and thrust your hips skyward, lifting the bar as you do (place your hands lightly on the bar to hold it in place). Inhale and release. Do 2 sets, 8 reps.

Pro tip: If you have a slim build, wrap hand towels (or a padded barbell collar) around the bar at the spot where it comes in contact with your hipbones.

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(Photo by Alora Griffiths)

6. Barbell deadlift

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart in front of the barbell. Hinge forward at the waist, keeping your back straight, and grasp the barbell with hands shoulder-width apart. Softly bend knees, then straighten in one definitive motion, raising your torso up along with the bar, keeping arms straight, until you return to an upright position. Lower the bar back to the floor, keeping your back straight. Do 3 sets and 10 reps.

Pro tip: Keep your head facing forward and gaze slightly higher than eye level for the duration of the exercise to ensure proper alignment.

7. Barbell shrugs

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, barbell grasped in front of you with both hands in an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Keeping your arms straight, scrunch your shoulders up toward your ears as high as they will go. Hold for a second, then release. Do 3 sets of 10.

Pro tip: To give your pectorals and deltoids a proper workout, avoid bending your arms and engaging your biceps to raise the bar.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

New study shows frightening connection between weight gain and brain health

It is pretty easy to gain weight as you grow older. Metabolisms slow, hormones shift, and people become generally less physically active more sedentary as they age. But inevitability doesn’t mean getting fatter doesn’t come with serious risks. Besides the increased likelihood of heart disease (the number one killer of men and women in America) gaining weight can do some serious damage to another arguably more essential organ — your brain. As bodies get bigger, a new study finds, brains actually shrink.


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Cortical thinning, the phenomenon named in the study, refers to atrophy of the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain where almost all information processing occurs. The thinner the cortex, the greater the risk of Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases. Scientists have understood that there is a link between healthy body weight and optimal brain health, but few studies have looked at the direct role weight might play. Based on what is already known about the cerebral cortex, study author and neurologist Dr. Tatjana Rundek believed that obesity could be connected to cortical thinning and overall brain atrophy.

Also read: Gain (or regain) warrior status in just 8 weeks with this fitness plan

To test this, Rundek and her team recruited 1,289 people to compare their bodies and brains over time. At the start of the study, their BMI and waist circumference were measured and six years later, the participants’ brains were scanned using an MRI, in order to measure the thickness of the cortex and brain volume. Out of everyone, 571 people had BMIs in the 25 to 30 range, which is considered overweight, and 371 people were considered obese with BMIs 30 and higher. The higher the BMI, the thinner the cortex, results revealed. Even after Rundek controlled for variables that could change the cortex such as high blood pressure, alcohol use and smoking, every unit increase in BMI was linked with a 0.098 millimeter thinner cortex for overweight individuals and a 0.207 mm thinner cortex for obese ones.

“These associations were especially strong in those who were younger than 65, which adds weight to the theory that having poor health indicators in mid-life may increase the risk for brain aging and problems with memory and thinking skills in later life,” she warned. Having a larger waist was similarly associated with a thinner cortex, strengthening the link. To put it in perspective, in normal aging adults the overall thinning rate of the cortical mantle is between 0.01 and 0.10 mm per decade, but these findings indicate that being overweight or obese might speed up this process by another 10 years at least.

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It is worth noting that the study demonstrates a correlation between weight and cortical thinning, but scientists are not at the point where they can confidently say putting on pounds causes brain thinning directly, or Alzheimer’s for that matter. The study also focused primarily on older participants with an average age of 64, but the data does give the younger man another reason to start and maintain healthy habits early on. It’s not just about looking good, it’s about having a big beautiful brain too.

“These results are exciting because they raise the possibility that by losing weight, people may be able to stave off aging of their brains and potentially the memory and thinking problems that can come along with brain aging,” Rundek said. “However, with the rising number of people globally who are overweight or obese and the difficulty many experiences with losing weight, obviously this is a concern for public health in the future as these people age.”

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

John Stewart kicks off the 2019 Warrior Games

The opening ceremony of the 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games began with the traditional procession of service-member athletes representing their countries. The national anthem for each country was played marking the international participation of the games, but when U.S. Army Maj. Luis Avila, a wounded warrior, sang the Star-Spangled Banner, you had a sense these games were going to be special.

Jon Stewart, a comedian, was once again the master of ceremonies to officially open the games. He mixed humor with a compassion and seriousness about wounded warriors that seems to resonate with service members and families.

“Thank you very much for coming out to the Warrior Games,” Stewart said. “We have had a tremendous day or two of competition. The athletes are finding out what it is like to be in a city that was built inside of a humidifier.”


“We are here to celebrate these unbelievable athletes from all of the branches (of military service),” Stewart continued. “These are men and women that refuse to allow themselves to be defined by their worst day, but define themselves by their reaction to that day and the resilience, and the perseverance, and the dedication, and the camaraderie, and the family you are going to witness this week.”

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Jon Stewart at the opening ceremony of the Department of Defense Warrior Games.

(DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

Stewart stated the athletes have gone through a lot to get to the games, but no one gets there by themselves.

“The families and the caregivers so often work as hard as the athletes to get them prepared and to get them going and to be there,” Stewart said.

Kenneth Fisher, chairman and chief executive officer of the Fisher House, plays a huge role in helping the families. Fisher acknowledged the work with wounded warriors that Jon Stewart continues to do as an advocate for service members in and out of uniform, and focused on family support.

“I have had the great honor of meeting so many of this nation’s wounded people and never a day goes by when I am not inspired by you; amazed by what you have accomplished and humbled by the unconditional support given to you by your families, your friends, your spouses, your children; by all those who love you the most.”

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Approximately 300 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans will participate in 13 athletic competitions over 10 days as U.S. Special Operations Command hosts the 2019 DoD Warrior Games.

(DoD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. James K. McCann)

Former President George W. Bush and U.S. Senator Rick Scott, Florida, sent videotaped messages to the athletes, wishing them well during the competition. Congresswoman Kathy Castor noted the fantastic job U.S Special Operations Command has done hosting this year’s Warrior Games.

Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist had an opportunity to watch the U.S. Army wheelchair basketball team practice earlier in the day.

“Coach Rodney Williams has those three-time defending champions looking pretty good,” Norquist noted. “They got (retired) Spc. Brent Garlic who was part of last year’s team, and (retired) Staff Sgt. Ross Alewine, who is the defending Warrior Games Ultimate Champion.”

Norquist welcomed and thanked all the international participants at this year’s competition, and alluded to the qualification to participate in the games.

“To compete in the Warrior Games, it is not enough to be strong; it is not enough to be fast. In the Warrior Games, there is a level of resolve; a unique ability to embrace and overcome adversity and that is the price of admission. Just to get to this event, it requires unbelievable grit and resilience.”

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Air Force athletes enter the arena for the opening ceremony of the Department of Defense Warrior Games in Tampa, Fla., June 22, 2019.

(DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

Tim Kane, father of Army Sgt. Tanner Kane, said, once his son got involved with adaptive reconditioning sports, he found a purpose to get up and out in the mornings.

“Tanner didn’t speak for two years and then he connected with other Soldiers, it all changed. Tanner realized his former state was wasting away at his spirit and this program was here to help and aid other Soldiers on their progress to healing.”

Tiffany Weasner, wife of retired Army Sgt. Johnathan Weasner said, “I know what this program has done for my husband Jonathan and our family. To look around this arena and see the joy on other families faces, I can only imagine what adaptive reconditioning has done for other families; it’s a blessing.”

This article originally appeared on United States Air Force. Follow @USAF on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

The ‘crazy Swede’ was a paratrooper who rode his bike to summit Everest

Leave it to military veterans to make one of Earth’s last tests of human endurance that much more difficult. It’s a 6,000-mile bike ride from the town of Jonkoping, Sweden, to the base camp of Mount Everest. Former Swedish paratrooper Goran Kropp knew how far it was as he packed up his bicycle with 200-plus pounds of gear and departed on that trip in 1995.


His first summit of a major mountain came when he climbed the highest peak in Scandinavia with his dad – at just six years old. Although he indulged a rebellious streak as a young man, the experience of that first climb never left him, and he soon found himself in thin air once more.

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Kropp grew up as a hard-partying punk rocker but soon joined the Swedish paratroopers. This was the event that would shape Kropp for the rest of his life. He met his climbing partner while in the army and moved from an apartment to a tent pitched in a gravel pit that was close to his barracks. While still in the Swedish military, he would test himself through different climbing endurance challenges. The two paratroopers even made a list of progressively higher mountains.

Until it was time to go climb them.

He soon earned the nickname “The Crazy Swede” and became known for his insane feats. The first major peak he summited was Tajikistan’s Lenin Peak, far below the 8,000-meter “Death Zone” of mountaineering, but still a great place to start. What made his summit of Lenin Peak special is that he set the record for it at the time.

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The hits just kept coming. Kropp was the fourth climber ever to conquer Pakistan’s Muztagh Tower in 1990. He was the first Swede to summit K2, a much deadlier mountain to climb than Everest. One of every ten people who climb Everest will die there. On K2, the fatality rate is more than twice that. Climbers of K2 regularly face life-threatening situations that end their trip before it begins.

On Kropp’s first attempt at a K2 summit in 1993, he stopped to help rescue Slovenian climbers stranded at a high altitude. His ascent on K2 would happen a week after this aborted attempt, but danger didn’t always stop Kropp. That’s why it took him three attempts to summit Everest.

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Kropp leaving Sweden for Nepal in 1995.

Kropp left Sweden on his 8,000-mile journey to Nepal in October 1995 and arrived at base camp in April 1996. He wanted to make the ascent without the use of oxygen tanks or assistance ropes. His first attempt saw him struggle to make it to the south summit in waist-deep snow, but his slow pace meant he would be descending in the dark, a risk he was not willing to take. So, he turned around to climb another day.

As Kropp recovered at base camp, a blizzard killed eight trekkers making a descent from the summit, in what became known as the 1996 Mount Everest Disaster. It was the deadliest climbing season on Everest to date. Kropp joined the relief efforts as he recovered, but it was during this deadly season that Kropp summited the mountain, without oxygen and without sherpas.

Then, he rode his bike 8,000 miles home to Sweden.

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From Paratrooper to Adventurer.

He climbed five of the world’s fourteen 8,000-plus meter mountains and was the only Swede to summit Everest twice.

In later years, Kropp and his wife skied across the North Pole ice sheet, attempting to reach the North Pole. He had to back out, however, due to a frostbitten thumb. It was on that trek that the press turned against him, claiming he was a poacher for shooting a Polar Bear that was stalking him and his wife during the expedition. As a result, Kropp left Sweden for Seattle.

It was in Washington State that 35-year-old Kropp died an ironic death. After making so many miraculous summits and life-threatening firsts, he died climbing a routine 70-foot rock wall near his home after two safety rigging failures.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Try these 10 quad exercises for strong, muscular legs

The quad workout should be a staple workout for men — up there with abs, biceps, triceps, and pecs. From a functional perspective, they are the main thing standing between you and a knee or hip injury. The stronger your quads, the better they will absorb the load from any kind of impact activity, like running or a pickup game of hoops. From a performance standpoint, the stronger your quad muscles are, the more power and speed you will have when you bike, run, or do any kind of plyometric move like box jumps. They also provide the necessary support when you do overhead presses, Olympic lifts, and give your kid a piggyback ride. And then there is the aesthetic factor. A ripped upper body with scrawny legs looks unbalanced, to say the least.


The best quad workouts hit four individual muscles: the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius. Each one plays a unique role in bending and flexing your knee and hip joints, but they also all work together to power you through your day.

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(Photo by Scott Webb)

There’s no hard and fast rule about when to do a legs workout. Some like to add it to arms day; others prefer to stagger the two. If you play any rec sports, you’re probably giving your legs some kind of workout every time you hit the field or court. The most important thing is that your legs feel rested before you hit the weights so be sure to take a recovery day between workouts. Follow this 10-move, 20-minute program to be sure you’re giving your legs the love they deserve.

1. Barbell squat

Using a weight suitable for 8-10 reps, unrack the barbell and place it behind your neck on your shoulders, holding it with an overhand grip (palms forward). Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly turned out. Allow your chest to lean forward slightly, back flat, as you bend your knees, aiming to get knees over toes. Straighten back to standing. Do 8-10 reps, 2 sets.

2. Weighted lunges

Holding a medium-weight dumbbell in each hand, stand with feet parallel, arms by your sides. Take a big step forward with your right leg, landing with a bent knee. Bend your right knee until your leg forms a right angle, knee over toes, and back left knee hovers just above the ground. Push off right foot and return to standing. Do 10 lunges on the right side, then 10 lunges on the left side. 2 sets total.

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(Photo by Sergio Pedemonte)

3. Leg lifts

Lie on your back, legs straight out in front of you. Place a 10-15 pound weighted ankle cuff on your right leg. Keeping your back flat and legs straight, lift your right leg about a foot off the floor. Lower back down but don’t let it touch the ground. Immediately lift again. Do 15 reps on your right legs, then switch the weight to left side and do 15 reps on the left side. Repeat on both sides.

4. Bavarian split squat

Stand with your back to a bench, about a foot away. Holding a medium-weight dumbbell in each hand, lift your right leg behind you, knee bent, and rest your right toes on the bench. Bend your left knee over your left toes, letting your right knee drop toward the floor. Straighten up again. Do 12 reps then switch sides. 2 sets.

5. Wall sit

Stand with your back to a wall, about a foot away. Bend knees and let your back sink against the wall, pressing into it with your spine as you lower yourself down into a “sitting” position. (Your legs should form a right angle with your knees over your toes.) Hold for 90 seconds to 2 minutes. Release.

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(Photo by Jelmer Assink)

6. Step-ups

Face a bench with a medium-weight dumbbell in each hand. Step up onto the bench with your right leg, allowing your left leg to swing through until it is raised in front of you, knee bent. Step back down with your left leg first. Perform 10 step-ups on the right side, then 10 on the left. 2 sets.

7. Single-leg squat-sits

Stand with your back to a bench, about a foot away. Holding a medium-weight dumbbell in each hand, lift your left leg in front of you. Bend your right knee and sink back and down to the bench until your butt just touches the seat. Immediately engage your quad and return to standing, without letting your left leg touch the floor. 8 reps on the right, switch sides and repeat. 2 sets.

8. Box jump

Stand facing a bench or box about two feet off the floor. Bend your knees and let your arms drift behind you. Explosively push through the floor, jump, and tuck your knees as you spring up onto the box, landing on both feet. Step back down. 15 jumps.

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(Photo by Meghan Holmes)

9. Kettlebell lateral lunges

Holding a heavy kettlebell by the handle with both hands, stand with your feet together, legs straight. Take a wide step to the right, landing with a bent right knee and straight left leg. Bend deep to the ground, then push through your right foot and return to standing. Repeat on left side for one full rep. 10 reps, 2 sets.

10. Stair sprint

Find yourself a set of stairs, and race to the top, jog to the bottom, for 60 seconds, lifting knees as high as you can and moving your feet as fast as they will go.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

New report reveals the US military’s fattest service branch

About one in five Navy sailors are obese, making it the US military’s fattest service branch, a new Pentagon report found.

The obesity rate for the Navy was 22% — higher than the average for the four main service branches — the “Medical Surveillance Monthly Report” said, adding that obesity is a “growing health concern among Sailors.”

The report stressed that obesity affected Navy readiness — but this branch of the military wasn’t the only one facing higher obesity rates. The Army came in at 17.4%, the Department of Defense average, while the Air Force had a slightly higher rate, at 18.1%. The Marines were by far the leanest, with an obesity rate of only 8.3%.


These calculations were based on body mass index, “calculated utilizing the latest height and weight record in a given year,” the report said. “BMI measurements less than 12 and greater than 45 were considered erroneous and excluded.”

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(U.S. Navy photo by Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Nelson Doromal)

The report did explain some limits to using BMI: that “Service members with higher lean body mass may be misclassified as obese based on their BMI,” that “not all Service members had a height or weight measurement available in the Vitals data each year,” and that “BMI measures should be interpreted with caution, as some of them can be based on self-reported height and weight.”

Among the services, the report found, obesity rates were higher among men than women, as well as among people 35 and over as opposed to those in their 20s.

“The overall prevalence of obesity has increased steadily since 2014,” it said.

Obesity is on the rise across the services, The New York Times reported. It said the Navy’s obesity rate had increased sixfold since 2011, while the rates for the other services had more than doubled.

This trend appears linked to one in civilian society — 39.8 percent of adult Americans were considered obese in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tim D. Godbee)

Roughly 30% of Americans between the 17 and 24 are ineligible for Army recruitment, and about a third of prospective recruits are disqualified based on their weight, Army Times reported in October 2019.

“Out of all the reasons that we have future soldiers disqualify, the largest — 31 percent — is obesity,” Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, the head of the Army Recruiting Command, told Army Times.

The Army’s 2018 “Health of the Force” report said that “the high prevalence of obesity in the U.S. poses a serious challenge to recruiting and retaining healthy Soldiers.”

The new Pentagon report further explained that “obesity negatively impacts physical performance and military readiness and is associated with long-term health problems such as hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, and risk for all-cause mortality.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

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