A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY SPORTS

A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

When Max McGee showed up for work on Jan. 15, 1967, he was badly hungover, having spent the previous night bar hopping with the company of two local women in Los Angeles. Everyone has shown up to work hungover — that’s nothing new, especially for an Air Force veteran. The only problem was that Max McGee wasn’t in the Air Force anymore. He was a Green Bay Packer, and he was supposed to play the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl that day.


You really can’t blame McGee. He hadn’t played well that season, and he wasn’t even a starter. He didn’t expect to play at all that day. He even left his helmet at the hotel. He tried to avoid eye contact with legendary Packers quarterback Bart Starr when he finally came home, desperate to get a few hours of sleep before the game.

But, like the champion he was soon to be, he showed up for work and did his job – in a legendary way.

A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever
The face you make when you really just want people to be quiet while you drink coffee in the dark. (Screen capture from YouTube)

McGee had been in the NFL since 1954 and was in his mid-thirties when he made his appearance in the first-ever NFL championship. But he was still a young buck between the 1955 and 1956 seasons, and he served as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force at that time. He returned to the NFL after his discharge and became the Packers’ leading receiver for four of the next six years. It was in 1959 that Vince Lombardi took the reins of the Packers organization, directing their stellar success during the mid- to late- years of McGee’s career.

The 1967 season was good for the Packers but not for the aging McGee. He had only caught four passes the whole season and was looking forward to retiring. The chances of him playing in the Super Bowl were slim. So despite a curfew for the team, he took two flight attendants from his flight to Los Angeles out on the town, returning to the hotel at 6:30 in the morning. When he got to the game that day, he told fellow wide receiver Boyd Dowler that he was in pretty bad shape and that he hoped Dowler would be able to play the whole game.

Dowler was injured on the second drive of the game.

Coach Lombardi called for McGee to get into the game. Having forgotten his helmet, he borrowed someone’s and took the field. That’s how history began. Just a few plays later Starr passes the ball to McGee, who makes an amazing one-handed catch and runs the ball 37 yards into the end zone, scoring the first touchdown in Super Bowl history.

Not only would McGee score the first Super Bowl touchdown – the first touchdown of that game – he would score two touchdowns that day, for a total of seven passes for 138 yards. His hangover play is one of the top Super Bowl performances by a wide receiver ever, even in the days when running the ball was more prevalent than airing it out.

Even though QB Bart Starr was named MVP that day, the title probably should have gone to McGee, all things considered.

Feature image: screen capture from YouTube

MIGHTY SPORTS

David Robinson’s meteoric rise from the Naval Academy to the NBA

If you had told David Robinson when he entered the Naval Academy that he would become one of the all-time greats in professional basketball, he probably would have rolled his eyes at you and laughed. But, by the time Robinson’s NBA career was over, that’s exactly what happened. With his dominant 7’1 stature and unprecedented agility for a center, Robinson earned a sure-fire ticket to the Hall of Fame.


Robinson became a two-time NBA champion, NBA MVP, 10-time All-Star, and led the league in scoring, rebounds and blocks several times. He also was a three-time Olympian, winning the gold medal twice, most famously as a member of the 1992 USA Basketball team. The team would go down as the best basketball team of all time, forever remembered as the Dream Team.

A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

live.staticflickr.com

But the future NBA legend didn’t start playing basketball until his senior year of high school. Born to a career Navy man, Robinson spent his childhood moving around until his father’s retirement. Finally, the family settled in Virginia. By this time, Robinson was a great athlete and pretty tall for his age. He excelled at many sports, but when he tried basketball in junior high, it didn’t go well despite his 5’9 frame at such a young age. By the time he was a senior in high school, he had blossomed to 6’6 and decided to try again.

It turned out he was pretty decent. He was the star player on the team and was named an all-district player. But that wasn’t enough to get much attention from college scouts, so while he was a late bloomer in basketball, it looked like it wouldn’t lead anywhere.

Robinson likely didn’t mind and had his sights set on a better prize. He had worked really hard on his academics and wanted to fulfill his dream of being a Naval Officer. He applied and was accepted into the United States Naval Academy in 1983 with hopes he would become a career officer. Robinson was recruited to play basketball there by Coach Paul Evans. Evans had seen Robinson and figured he would be a great back up to the team he had steadily built over the years.

After his acceptance, however, Robinson had a small growth spurt. He grew to 6’7 and that put him over the maximum height for the Academy. But the Navy quickly granted a waiver as he wasn’t even the biggest player on the team and figured he wouldn’t grow anymore.

They were wrong.

His freshman year, Robinson played as a backup but then had the mother of all growth spurts between his first and second year, taking him from 6’7 to 7’0. While growing, he kept his lithe athleticism, which turned him from a backup winger to a very versatile center. His sophomore year, he became one of the most dominant centers in college basketball and a true national star.

At the same time, he was drawing attention from the media and NBA scouts, and questions started to arise as to whether or not an NBA team would draft him in two years. He was a Midshipman and had a five-year commitment to the Navy after graduating. Robinson wanted to honor that commitment and had said he had no problem serving out his commitment as that is what he knowingly signed up for.

A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

But it turned out that awesome growth spurt that gave birth to his basketball superstardom also was about to limit his Naval Career.

Robinson already had a waiver to get into the Navy at 6’7, but now being a seven-footer, he was not allowed to be an unrestricted line officer. He would never command a ship and would be relegated to shore duty because of his height.

In the meantime, the Academy was getting significant media attention and scouts were trying to get as much information about Robinson as possible. He would be eligible for the draft in two years, but would a team have to wait five more years to see him play? Would any team want to draft a player in 1987 and have the only uniform he would wear until 1992 be a military uniform?

The Navy itself looked at Robinson’s situation as well and realized the predicament. Yes, he signed up for a five-year commitment, but at the time, he was still eligible to be an unrestricted line officer. But now that that plan was scrapped, they also realized that Robinson could have another growth spurt and be disqualified from the Navy in general. Could they really benefit by having a Naval Academy Midshipman not be a first-round draft pick?

At the time this was happening, the Navy had some great PR. They had another graduate, Napoleon McCallum, who was drafted by a USFL team and would spend his weekend playing for the Raiders and then the Rams. They were also about to benefit from a movie that was about to come out about Naval Aviators that featured a young star named Tom Cruise, awesome action sequences and an amazing soundtrack.

Being in his sophomore year, Robinson could have selected to leave the Academy, transfer to another school, sit out a year and play a final year putting him in the league in 1988. Would he really wait until 1992? Would he want to pursue the Navy that would restrict him from advancing in rank while missing out on millions of dollars?

The Navy didn’t want to lose Robinson and decided to take steps to keep him at the Academy and have him serve while still protecting his future basketball career.

The discussion went all the way up to Secretary of the Navy John Lehman, who figured in the best interest of the Navy, Robinson would serve as a Naval Reserve Officer. After graduating, he would serve two years on active duty and then be allowed to go play basketball. During those two years, however, Robinson would be allowed to play in international competitions. (The Navy wanted Robinson on the 1988 Olympic team.)

Robinson agreed and played the next two years at the Academy, taking the Midshipmen to the Elite 8 one year. He became the dominant center in basketball his senior year and was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs. Robinson spent two years stationed at Naval Submarine Base, Kings Bay, in Georgia. He worked as an engineering officer, worked out relentlessly to keep his basketball skills honed and ended up making that Olympic team. (In an ironic twist, that U.S. team lost which partly spurned officials to create an Olympic team with NBA stars in 1992. This would become the legendary Dream Team Robinson was a part of). Robinson was also the de facto poster boy for Navy recruitment as they took the opportunity to plaster his image on every promotional asset they could.

A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

Robinson joined the Spurs in 1989 and never looked back. He was a legend at center, won gold in Barcelona with the Dream Team and won two NBA titles. He also was a devoted philanthropist and man of faith; so much so that in 2003 the NBA gave recipients of its Community Assist award the David Robinson plaque.

Robinson started the Carver Academy in 2001, which helps inner-city kids reach new heights in education. In 2012, it became a public charter school with Robinson doing the lion share of donating and fundraising while taking an active day-to-day role in the school’s operations.

It’s amazing to think how a growth spurt could change someone’s life so much and impact millions of others as well.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Women’s Soccer — Boise State at Air Force (Friday, 10/12, 8:00PM EST)

The Air Force Academy women’s soccer team returns home to play the first of its final two home matches of the 2018 season when it plays host to Boise State, Friday, Oct. 12. The Falcons had their third straight 0-1-1 weekend, as they dropped another 0-1 match, this time to Colorado State. They followed that up with a 1-1 draw at Wyoming.

They’re looking to turn their luck around this Friday.


MIGHTY SPORTS

Why the NFL Red Zone is the best thing to ever happen to football

Around 2009, there was a huge cultural shift in the world of NFL football that changed the way many of us watch the games on Sunday. Sure, fantasy football gave us a reason to care about games and players that don’t affect our beloved team each week, but if you wanted to catch all the best action on a given day, you’d be hard-pressed.

Then, the NFL Network gave us the best gift yet.


As most NFL fans in the military already know, it’s going to be hard to watch your favorite team. If you didn’t buy into DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket and you still wanted to watch say, the Cincinnati Bengals, but you were stationed in Charleston, S.C., you probably had to go to a bar every Sunday — or just deal with whatever game they played on the local station.

A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

“If I have to sit around and watch the 2009 Bengals, I’m going to need a lot more of these beers…”

Unless you’re a Patriots fan, it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to be able to watch your favorite team every week. And even going to watch the games at a bar or restaurant gets costly week after week — after all, sitting there for three hours and not ordering anything is a trash move.

Chances are good there’s more than one football orphan in any given unit who has to wander around trying to catch a glimpse of his favorite team. For example, Chargers fans, Jaguars fans, and Bills fans don’t often get their teams on national airtime— or on Sunday, Monday, or Thursday Night Football.

A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

Unless they play You-Know-Who.

To please everyone week in and week out would be nearly impossible, not to mention all those poor bastards who have to work every Sunday — unlike the rest of us nonners — and don’t get to step away from the flightline or CQ desk.

Watching a football game featuring a team you hate or don’t care about can be excruciating. No one wants to watch Eli Manning struggle for another three hours every week but there he is, Manningface and all, because New York City has a lot of people in it and Arizona doesn’t have nearly as many.

A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

Not that I don’t enjoy how much Josh Rosen looks like the Cardinals logo.

And then there’s the fantasy football experience. Fantasy football has been around since 1962 but now, since people have computers that aren’t the size of entire buildings and they don’t have to do the math themselves, it has ballooned into an industry. Some 33 million people play fantasy football and many, many of them don’t have a team to root for.

They only care about the big plays and scoring drives. Now, that’s all they have to see. Everyone gets to catch the big moments every Sunday in the fall. By clipping between games to only show you the most important plays, Red Zone makes it all possible.

From the bottom of the hearts of all the short-attention-span-having, small-market-team-loving, don’t-want-to-buy-five-beers-every-Sunday fans out there: thank you, Red Zone.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Week one at Tokyo Olympics: Update on 19 service members and more

The greatest athletes in the world had to wait an extra year to display their abilities on the world stage, but the Tokyo Olympics have finally come. The one-year delay due to the pandemic was worth the added anguish for many athletes who have already competed in the six days since the opening ceremonies on July 23rd. Many events are already wrapped up, but there is plenty more action to come through August 8th.

The United States has represented itself well, currently with a commanding lead in the total medal count at 37 (13 gold, 14 silver and 10 bronze), with China, Russia, Japan and Australia rounding out the top five. The U.S. currently trails Japan (15) and China (14) in gold medals earned, but there is plenty of time left to overtake them. 

19 service members are in Tokyo representing the United States, of which 17 are Soldiers. Nine of them are competitive shooters. Most notable among them thus far is 1st Lt. Amber English, who was outstanding when the lights were shining brightest. The 31-year-old Army Reserve logistics officer set an Olympic record in skeet shooting, hitting 56 of 60 targets to edge Italy’s Diana Bacosi by only one target, and take home the gold.

Most shooting events have been wrapped up, but track and field, boxing, the modern pentathlon, sailing and wrestling are all still to be decided and will have service members among them. Lt. Nikole Barnes (sailing) is the first active-duty Coast Guard officer, male or female, to represent the United States at the Olympics. The medal rounds for sailing begin Saturday, July 31st. SSgt John Stefanowicz, the only Marine at the Games, joins Spc. Alejandro Sancho and Sgt. Ildar Hafizov on the U.S. Wrestling Team. Their action won’t begin until Sunday, August 1st.

Notable non-service members who have earned gold along with 1st Lt. English include the Men’s 4×100 Relay Swimming Team, the Women’s 3×3 Basketball Team (the inaugural year for the event), Anastasija Zolotic (57 kg Women’s Tae Kwon Do), and Katie Ledecky (Women’s 1500m Freestyle). It was Ledecky’s sixth career Olympic Gold. She also took silver in the Women’s 400m Freestyle.

A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

Of course, with the elation and glory of triumph comes the pain and disappointment of defeat, and there have been a couple of notable ones already. Simone Biles, considered the hands-down best gymnast in the world, shocked everyone and withdrew from competition during the Women’s team final on Tuesday. It appeared she had left the floor after her first vault attempt due to injury, but it was later revealed that she pulled herself from the competition for mental health concerns, saying she wasn’t in the right headspace and didn’t want to risk the team a medal. 

“I didn’t want to go into any of the other events second-guessing myself,” Biles said in the press conference later. “So, I thought it would be better if I took a step back and let these girls go out there and do their job.”

Biles’ contributions were sorely missed, as Russia took the gold. The U.S. Women’s team was able to hold on for silver. Biles has also withdrawn from all of the individual gymnastics events that begin Thursday, She had qualified for all four.

The U.S. Men’s Basketball Team, lead by Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard, also continued to struggle. After surprising losses to Nigeria and Australia in exhibition play before heading to Tokyo, most assumed that the Americans would get back on track before the games counted — they were wrong. Holding a 74-67 lead over Team France with 3:41 left to play, Team U.S.A. imploded. The French finished on a 16-2 run that felt like a microcosm of everything wrong with American basketball today. The U.S. played soft defense, missed free throws, and were unimaginative on offense down the stretch, just jacking up three-pointer after three-pointer. The offense dried up and France took advantage. 

Team France has five NBA players of their own, including All-Star Rudy Gobert, but nothing anywhere near the level of talent on the American side. It is hard to see the loss as anything but a massive underachievement. Team U.S.A. recovered to annihilate Iran 120-66 yesterday. In all likelihood, they will easily dispatch the Czech Republic in their last game of pool play on Saturday, allowing them to begin play in the eight-team knockout tournament next week. While the loss to France is concerning to say the least, and Iran is hardly a measuring stick for basketball success, the U.S. may have righted the ship in time for a gold medal.

This article by Tory Rich was originally published by Sandboxx News. Follow Sandboxx News on Facebook.

Feature image: Brittany Nelson/ IMCOM Public Affairs

MIGHTY SPORTS

Workout group gets veteran amputees moving again

In the gym at VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System, Joe Curran encourages R.J. Garcia with the intensity of a football coach. “C’mon, you’ve got this!” Curran barks as Garcia struggles to finish his last rep on the leg press machine. Garcia pushes through gritted teeth as he lowers the weight, balancing it between his good leg and his prosthetic. “There you go!” says Curran.

The two Army veterans are members of the Ass Kickers, an amputee exercise and support group that meets every Friday.

“They took on the name because they are known for making a lot of noise,” says Jessica Blackwell, a VA kinesiotherapist who founded the group in 2017 as a way for amputee veterans to stay active and meet others in the same situation. “They’re a great group of guys, but we mean business. They’ve come to work hard, and that’s how they got the name.”


Kinesiotherapy is therapeutic exercise to help rehabilitate people with functional limitations, including amputations.

“Joe is our ringleader,” Blackwell says. “He’s our loudest one, but he takes care of the other guys, making sure that they have the resources they need. He’s actually helping himself in the process.”

A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

Veteran R.J. Garcia and kinesiotherapist Jessica Blackwell at the gym.

Pushing veterans “out of respect”

Curran relishes his role. “What I do is put a little fire under their butts. These guys in wheelchairs, they won’t get out unless I start pushing them. And I only do it to motivate them, out of respect.”

The motivation works, says Blackwell. “I’ve really seen a great turnaround with my guys since we started this group. Their health, their psyche, their mood—I’ve seen a lot of improvements.”

One reason Curran is so successful is that he literally walks the walk. After he lost both legs to complications he attributes to Agent Orange exposure, VA specialists helped him get going again. “First they taught me how to walk on one foot with a walker, how to hobble along. Now I can just walk with a cane. I try to stay out of the chair as much as possible.”

Curran’s grit is contagious. The group has expanded from two veterans at the start to more than 25. Besides their Friday gym session, they often meet for bowling, golf and other events.

A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

Joe Curran lights a fire under his fellow Veterans.

A sense of community

“Before this was created, our guys didn’t really have a reason to put their leg on and go outside,” says Blackwell. “They told me that they would stay at home and sit in their wheelchairs. This has really given them motivation and a sense of community.”

“I’ve got a theory,” Curran adds. “The average American veteran in a wheelchair is 200 pounds overweight. They’re homebound and often depressed. They’ll live longer if I can get them out of that chair. So that’s my plan: get the veteran off his butt and move!”

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

This swoll soldier will compete at the CrossFit Games

After placing fifth at the Rogue Invitational in Columbus, Ohio, an armor officer and member of the Army Warrior Fitness Team has stamped his ticket to the CrossFit Games starting Thursday in Madison, Wisconsin.

During the four-day competition, Capt. Chandler Smith said he looks forward to sharing his Army story at one of the largest fitness contests in the world.

“My goals at the CrossFit Games are reflective of my Army career goals as a whole,” Smith said. “My efforts there could potentially [bring in] a Soldier that will help educate my [future] son or daughter when they decide to join the Army.


A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

Capt. Chandler Smith stamped his ticket to the CrossFit Games Aug. 1-4, 2019, in Madison, Wisc., after placing fifth at the Rogue Invitational in Columbus, Ohio. Smith, an armor officer and member of the Army Warrior Fitness Team looks forward to sharing his Army story at one of the largest fitness contests in the world.

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army Recruiting Command)

“I want to do something at the games that [helps] the Army, and the world, become a better place,” he added. “If someone sees my positivity and chooses to reflect that in their daily life — that is a win.”

Smith was born in Gainesville, Florida. His father, Cedric, was a former NFL fullback and currently works as a strength and conditioning coach in the league. As an aspiring young athlete, Smith had ample opportunity to interact with many players and coaches, which taught him to remain humble, he said.

During high school, Smith decided to get into wrestling. His coach, Nage Damas, was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, and a three-year letter winner on its wrestling team. Through their interaction, Smith decided to enroll in the academy.

“I am the person who is big on discipline,” Smith said. “West Point presented the hardest road … and presented the biggest challenge in comparison to the other academies.”

At the time the Army was highly involved in Iraq and Afghanistan. Smith believed the Army provided the best opportunity for applied leadership.

“Those were conflicts I saw myself in. As an aspiring leader, you want to place yourself at points of friction,” he said.

As both a cadet and wrestler, Smith worked hard to exceed West Point’s academic, physical and military performance standards, he said. He strived to be a positive example for all of his teammates and peers.

“I have been given some gifts in the physical realm,” Smith said. “It is something that the Army has helped me foster by putting me around similarly-minded [people].

“I’m big on putting a focused effort toward whatever it is that I am in charge of doing,” he added. “Anything less than my best would be to sacrifice my gift — that’s how I see it.”

A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

The Army goes to great lengths to support competitive athletes. Here, Capt. Brian Harris completes the half Murph on the Assault AirRunner during the U.S. Army Warrior Fitness Team Tryouts.

(U.S. Army image by Lara Poirrier)

A NEW PATH

Smith’s respect for CrossFit started long before his time at West Point, he said.

“I wanted to do all the cool guy stuff that you see on TV. [CrossFit] helped me out with wrestling during high school and college,” he said.

After Smith graduated in 2015, CrossFit presented the most natural transition to help “stoke that competitive fire,” he added. In between his duties as a new lieutenant, Smith would spend hours in the gym. He was determined to make the CrossFit Games by 2020.

However, Smith’s fitness career almost derailed in February 2016. During an Army exercise, Smith sustained an injury, which broke his left ring finger in two places and sliced off the tip.

The injury happened a day before the CrossFit Open, the first qualifying stage for the CrossFit Games. The year prior, Smith placed 174th overall out of 273,000 total participants, according to CrossFit officials.

Smith took some time to recover and had to learn to operate with his new hand. He took a step back and started to reevaluate his ability to compete.

I didn’t realize that grip strength is a weakness of mine until I had something that affected my ability to grip. I began to specialize in the type of fitness my musculature can naturally support,” he said. “It ended up being a case of traumatic growth as this setback led to greater results.”

Through it all, Smith continued to move up in the ranks. He placed 128th overall in 2018 in the CrossFit standings. Coming into this year’s CrossFit Games, he is ranked 40th overall, according to program officials.

“I’ve gotten a chance to work out with [Smith],” said Master Sgt. Glenn Grabs, the first sergeant of the Army Recruiting Command’s outreach and recruiting company. “He speeds up as the workout gets longer, which makes him such a great competitor. Even though he’s maybe suffering inside, he’s just so positive and never backs down.”

As an overall athlete, Smith is relentless and the true embodiment of the warrior spirit, Grabs added.

“Captain Chandler Smith is not only a great Soldier, but he is a great person,” he said. “When I see him interact with people at competitions or in public, he goes the extra step to connect with people. That’s just who he is as a person and what makes him so remarkable.”

A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

Army Strong: Capt. Kasandra “Kaci” Clark completing the half Murch on the Assault AirRunner during the U.S. Army Warrior Fitness Team Tryouts.

(U.S. Army image by Lara Poirrier)

ALL IN

As a Soldier, Smith looks forward to more milestones he hopes to accomplish in his career. He was recently selected to lead an infantry platoon as an armor officer, which ended up being one of his crowning achievements thus far, he said.

“That’s not something that happens too often. We went over to Bulgaria for nine months as part of the Operation Atlantic Resolve,” he said. “Knowing that my command trusted me enough to take on a role that I wasn’t necessarily trained for — it empowered me a lot.”

For the most part, Smith has not experienced a lot of difficulties while balancing his fitness goals and Army career, he said. However, anything that falls outside those two priorities is sometimes pushed aside.

“I think I am overly focused on doing my nine to five at work. I also take my fitness hobby very seriously. It doesn’t leave much time for anything else,” he said. “I haven’t done too much vacationing or maybe spent as much time with my family as I would have liked to.”

These sacrifices were necessary to keep him relevant in the Army and fitness community, he said.

“[Making the CrossFit Games] is a goal that I’ve had in mind since 2012, and I’ve been in the Army the whole time,” he said. “So figuring out a way to do this all while balancing my Army requirements was going to be a challenge, but I wouldn’t have it in any other way.

“I’m super happy that it has paid off with a trip to the games this year.”

MIGHTY SPORTS

ROTC cadet sets burpee world record

An Army cadet from Michigan State University recently set a Guinness World Record for the most chest-to-ground burpees completed in 12 hours, an effort that helped him raise more than $7,800 for his nonprofit group for wounded veterans.

4,689. That’s the number of burpees Bryan Abell, a 23-year-old ROTC cadet, accomplished July 7, 2019, in his hometown of Milford, Michigan. His original goal was 4,500, the minimum number required by Guinness to set the record, but Abell kept going when there was time to spare.

Abell’s drive to push forward is rooted in the Army’s core values, he said. Before becoming an ROTC cadet his sophomore year, Abell originally enlisted as a National Guard infantryman in 2015, assigned to the 126th Infantry Regiment for the Michigan National Guard.


“If I wasn’t in the military, I wouldn’t have broken the record,” he said. The Army has taught me “to be proud of what you’re doing and to keep moving forward. I wanted to prove to myself I could do it.”

Abell not only proved it to himself, he proved it to the world.

A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

Cadet Bryan Abell, Michigan State University ROTC, rests during a work out Aug. 16, 2019, at Fort Knox, Ky.

(Photo by Reagan Zimmerman)

Guinness officially certified his record shortly before he started Cadet Summer Training-Advanced Camp at Fort Knox, Kentucky, last month. CST is a must-pass field training program for cadets and a stepping stone in becoming an officer in the Army.

Training for a world record

No stranger to physical activity, Abell is a veteran of multiple ultra-marathons, often running more than 50 miles through the winding wooded trails of Michigan’s countryside.

At first, Abell planned to vie for the record of “most burpees in an hour,” but after seeing nobody had accomplished the 12-hour record, he changed his mind.

After planning his record setting goal, Abell started a training regimen in his parents’ backyard. He initiated training by doing more than 500 burpees a day and over time he increased his daily total to more than 1,500. During the six weeks he trained, Abell did nearly 33,000 total burpees.

A dirt hole, where Abell trained, formed in the grass of his parents’ backyard. As the hole became deeper, it served as a testament to his will to set the world record. Although Abell was stronger with each passing day, his dad “wasn’t very happy with the hole,” he joked.

Today, the yard is back in the pristine condition his dad generally maintains it at, and the once deep, dirt hole has become a faded memory.

Burpees for a purpose

Milford, a Detroit suburb with a population of more than 6,000, was handpicked by Abell as the location for the world record attempt. The reason was simple — Abell said “it was home,” and he “just wanted to see it in the record books.”

That said, the clerical tasks of setting a world record weren’t as simple. Breaking a record can be a tedious job, he admitted, “It became pretty stressful. I didn’t realize how much time would go into (filling out paperwork).”

In addition, with CST on the horizon, Abell needed to speed up the application and training process. Luckily, Guinness offered two options: 12-week review or a priority, five-day application review. Abell opted for the quicker option.

“I chose the priority option because I didn’t have much time,” Abell said. “I wanted to (attempt the record) before I came to advanced camp. The application came back within five days and basically from there, I had to set a date.”

After establishing the application process, the next step was his favorite part: gunning for the record books.

A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

Cadet Bryan Abell, Michigan State University ROTC, shows off his Guinness World Record plaque at his home in Milford, Michigan.

“I just wanted to do the burpees,” Abell joked.

With hometown pride, the day finally came. From 7:05 a.m. to 7:05 p.m., and only resting periodically, Abell averaged at least six to seven chest-to-ground burpees a minute.

“I could only rest for 20-30 seconds,” said Abell, who also took short restroom breaks during the timed event.

In lieu of a witness from Guinness, Abell took a different route to provide proof of his record. He set up multiple cameras from different angles to watch his proper form, and he had six individuals working two-person, four-hour shifts while he contended for the world record at the Carls Family YMCA.

At least one of the witnesses, at any given time, was required to have a fitness-related certification.

The event was live streamed on social media from his nonprofit organization’s page, Stronger Warrior Foundation, where he also received donations.

A good cause

Stronger Warrior Foundation, officially incorporated in January, is a nonprofit Abell founded with his sister, Katelyn, during his sophomore year in college.

The siblings started “from the ground up”, he said, and their main purpose is to help servicemembers and veterans who have been wounded or have suffered disabilities from combat-related service.

The live streamed, half-day challenge raised more than id=”listicle-2639958942″,300, with more donations generated after he set the world record.

Abell doesn’t plan to give up his record anytime soon.

When asked what he’d do if someone does 5,000 chest-to-ground burpees and breaks it, he laughed and said, “Then I’d have to do 5,001.”

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY FIT

Try this killer treadmill workout – especially if you’ve got bad knees

Go backward for a better burn

Have you ever seen someone go backwards on a treadmill? I’m sure you have, and you may have thought to yourself, “What is that idiot doing?!” Well, according to researchers from South Africa, they are not idiots after all. In fact, you may consider doing some backwards cardio from time to time — especially if you’re getting over a knee problem.

The researchers had 39 subjects with various knee injuries follow a rehabilitation program that involved either forward- or backward-pedaling on the treadmill and elliptical machines. They reported at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine that the group going backwards increased their aerobic capacity by 10% more than the forward group. The backward group also increased their quad and hamstring strength more than the forward group.


A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

(Flickr photo by OIST)

Jim’s take-home point

If you have a knee injury or are getting over a knee injury you should definitely consider going backwards on the treadmill and elliptical from time to time. But even if you have no knee injuries you still might consider going backwards, not just to mix it up but the boost your leg strength more and even your aerobic capacity. The elliptical is the easiest to do this on. For the treadmill, be sure to start slow until you get the hang of it and gradually increase your speed. You can also go backwards on the track or anywhere outdoors, just be careful about what’s behind you.

Source: Terblanche, E., et al. Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, 2011.

Go manual for more muscle

One thing that I preach is doing shorter — but more frequent — bouts of cardio throughout the day.

This will actually help you burn off more fat than just doing one long cardio session. If you have followed my advice here, you may have looked into purchasing a treadmill for your home so that you can get in your cardio workouts at any time of day. But maybe you were daunted by the price tag. After all, many quality, motorized treadmills can cost you more than id=”listicle-2627551358″,000.

I have some good news for you — the best treadmill that you can buy may be closer to just 0

This kind of treadmill is known as a manual treadmill. Yes, the kind that you have to keep going with your own leg power. It’s no frills and no thrills, but the two studies below show why manual or non-motorized treadmills are better than their motorized counterparts.

First, University of Wisconsin (Milwaukee) researchers compared the calories burned and heart rate during walking at similar speeds on a motorized treadmill versus a non-motorized treadmill. They reported that the non-motorized treadmill lead to a 20% higher increase in heart rate and a 40% greater calorie burn! So forget about running on the motorized treadmill, using a non-motorized one will give you more a workout for faster fat loss.

A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

(Flickr photo by David Ohmer)

Researchers from Carroll University, in Waukesha, Wisconsin, measured muscle activity of the vastus lateralis — one of the four quadriceps muscles — the hamstrings and gastrocnemius (calf muscles) when subjects walked on a standard, motorized treadmill and on a non-motorized treadmill. They discovered that the non-motorized treadmill increased muscle activity of the quads by over 50% more and muscle activity of the calves and hamstrings by 100% more than the motorized treadmill. This means that using a non-motorized treadmill to do your cardio on can also help you to bring up your quads, hams and calves development.

Jim’s take-home point

A harder workout, bigger leg muscles, more calories burned, and the cost can be as low as 0—why wouldn’t you get a manual treadmill?! Try doing a few 10-minute bouts of sprinting HIIT workouts on one of these bad boys and you will feel it in your legs for sure and see it on, er off your waist.

Source: Snyder, A. C., et al. Energy expenditure while walking on a non-motorized treadmill. Annual Meeting of the National Strength and Conditioning Association, 2010.

Source: Edilbeck, B. P., et al. Comparison of muscle electromyography during walking on a motorized and non-motorized treadmill. Annual Meeting of the National Strength and Conditioning Association, 2011.

This article originally appeared on G.I. Jobs. Follow @GIJobsMagazine on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Here’s why you might be gaining weight during summer months

Does your beach body seem to disappear as the summer progresses — covered in beer, braut, and sedentary fat? You’re not alone. While weight gain is seen as a winter sport, summer weight gain is much more common than people think. And like a thunderstorm on a sunny day at the beach, it sneaks up on parents and kids alike.

Two recent studies suggest that children lose weight during the school year, and gain weight in the summer due to increased consumption of sugary drinks and decrease structure when it comes to meals, activity, and sleep. It’s possible similar variables cause summer weight gain in adults. There’s evidence that people generally sleep less during the summer, due to increased daylight exposure and just being too hot to sleep comfortably, and sleep deprivation increases the production of cortisol — a stress hormone that drives sugar cravings, swelling, and overall weight gain. Making matters worse, adults tend to diet in preparation for the summer, which really prepares them to pack on the pounds.


“Summer weight gain is often simply the biological response to pre-summer attempts at weight loss,” health coach and fitness specialist Ragen Chastain explains. “That lose-gain cycle can be compressed with more extreme dieting. So that crash diet they sold you to get your summer body will actually be likely to give you your summer weight gain.”

A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

(Photo by i yunmai)

The lose-gain cycle Chastain is referring to is often seen in crash or yo-yo diets, or regimens designed for rapid weight loss that are rarely sustainable and often backfire. When people try to lose weight a month before vacation instead of gradually throughout the year, it depletes their metabolism in several ways. Calorie deprivation slows thermogenesis, the amount of energy the body spends digesting food, while increasing overall fatigue, which discourages exercise. Extreme dieting also leads to muscle breakdown, which means fewer calories burned both during physical activity and while resting. Likewise, depriving the body of nutrients further disrupts sleep, which takes a toll on a person’s metabolic rate, studies show. Once summer starts and these diets end, or just get cheated on a lot, an uptick of parties, barbecues, and vacations, and the all the high-calorie indulgences that come with them create a perfect storm for a summer belly. That’s why summer is surprisingly the perfect time to get fat.

A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

(Photo by Nik MacMillan)

While warm temperatures encourage physical activities, really hot ones have the opposite effect, and people opt for sedentary summer days blasting the AC. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends canceling outdoor exercise when the heat index is above 90 degrees, for anyone who works out regularly. For those who are not as fit, the ACSM suggests tapping out closer to 86 degrees and calling off any sport competitions or forms of extended activity at 82 degrees. That means in places with the highest heat indexes — which accounts for humidity as well as temperature — like Texas, Louisiana, and Florida, outdoor physical activity may not be a safe option for most of the season. Regardless of where they live, people are more likely to put off exercising outside in the summer than in the winter due to the weather, according to one study. Consumer trends data confirms that many people fill this time with more beer, ice cream, and hot dogs, only making matters worse.

That’s not to say that winter weight gain isn’t real. Research shows that people tend to pack on the pounds between October and January because of the holiday season, as well as the cold weather, which tends to decrease physical activity increase the urge to indulge. However, exposure to cold weather helps activate brown fat to heat the body, which in turn, burns other fat, and shivering burns calories further, so it’s not all bad.

A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

(Photo by Jakob Owens)

Still, if people are prone to gaining weight in the summer and winter, is everyone just getting fatter year-round? Not so. Spring, it turns out, is more conducive to healthy eating, exercise, and weight loss than any other season. Research shows that people are more likely to think about weight loss during winter and summer months, but the spring months are when they actually can do it. On average, people consume 86 fewer calories per day in the spring compared to the fall, are more likely to exercise outside, and engage in physical activity for longer periods of time. The best thing parents who don’t want to pack on the summer pounds can do is treat it like spring. Think of it as summer with a little more structure, sleep, and healthy food.

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

MIGHTY FIT

Why you should be training, not exercising

Though the distinction between training and exercising might seem unimportant — it isn’t. How you label your physical activity says more about you, your mindset, and your probable rate of success than any PFT score ever could.

I first saw this difference at The Basic School in Quantico. Some of my peers were former college athletes, and a few were training in our off-time for an upcoming marathon. These peers had goals and a plan to achieve them. The rest of us were just doing what I now call “exercising,” random workouts on random days, inconsistently.


A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

I’m on the far left, standing and squinting.

(Photo by Michael Gregory)

The Marines who were actually training were the only ones I knew who could keep a solid schedule and maintain their fitness levels during The Basic School. The rest of us got by on an ever-dwindling fitness reservoir that was nearly empty by the time I finally finished the school.

I finally started applying this training mentality to fitness during the Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructor Course. The course itself was a constant physical beat-down, but in the few classroom lectures, we were taught how to set up a MCMAP and combat conditioning plan for our units. It was then that I realized I could design a plan to become progressively more difficult as fitness levels increase, the same way a pre-deployment workup gets more complicated as the deployment date nears.

A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

A classic case of the slay fest.

(Photo by Cpl. Brooke C. Woods USMC Recruit Depot San Diego)

How I loathed unit PT…

I used to think I hated PT just because I disliked being told what to do.

I have come to realize I actually hated unit PT because it is exercise and not training.

Most units plan solid workups to prepare each member of the unit to the max extent possible with all the skills and proficiencies needed for when they are actually ‘in country.’ This is training, a clear plan that progressively increases in difficulty and complexity with an end state in mind.

I have rarely seen physical fitness approached in the same logical way in unit PT.

Most units approach PT in one of two ways: as a slay fest or a joke.

  1. A Slay Fest: (n) from the ancient Greek Slayus Festivus, meaning make as many people puke or stroke out as possible in an effort to assert physical dominance and make less-fit service members feel inadequate.
  2. A Joke: just going through the motions and checking the quarterly unit PT requirement box.

Neither one of these has the intention of making better the members of the unit. In fact, slay fests often lead to injuries which have the opposite effect on unit readiness, while potentially initiating a hazing investigation because a junior NCO decided to play drill instructor.

A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

Is this a training session or exercise? …Seriously though, what is this?

(Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash)

The difference between training and exercising

In the Marine Corps, I saw what could be accomplished when a proper training plan is followed to the most minute detail. I also saw what type of chaos or indifference towards fitness can result from no plan and/or unchecked egos.

This is why you should be training. The most successful athletes are those that have a plan in place that works them towards a goal. I’m a firm believer that everyone is an athlete no matter what your job or current station in life.

Marines are constantly reminded that it doesn’t matter what your MOS is, you could find yourself in combat and you better be prepared for it. Even though some roll their eyes at the idea of a finance technician lobbing grenades in a firefight, they still have an underlying feeling of pride that this is a potentiality.

A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

Promotion on Iwo Jima. I swore to not waste anyone’s time with exercise on that day.

(Photo by Jeremy Graves)

I carry that with me to this day. Constantly thinking about what I would do if a fight breaks out — or if ‘patient zero’ of the zombie apocalypse strolls into my part of town — doesn’t keep me awake at night in dread. It keeps me awake at night in giddy anticipation because I’m training for that sh*t every. Damn. Day.

Of course, your reason for training doesn’t need to be so heavy, violent, or world-altering. Simply wanting to be able to throw a perfect spiral with your future son is a perfect reason to be training. If you need a more immediate time frame, choose a challenge: sign up for an adventure race, a marathon, an adult sports league, or a powerlifting meet (I just took second in my first meet and got a free t-shirt #winning #tigerblood). Train for the on-season or the event day.

As a member of the military community, it’s in your blood to conduct work-ups. Now it’s your turn to determine where and when that “deployment” is and how you train for it. Exercise is a word for people who throw out their back trying to get the gallon of Arizona Iced Tea off the bottom shelf and into their grocery cart. They need exercise; you need to be training.

A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever
MIGHTY CULTURE

Recalled from the Mekong Delta to set a world record in the Olympics

Melvin Pender was a 25-year-old soldier headed to the 82nd Airborne Division when he first tied on some running shoes to race, but it quickly became clear that he would become a legend in the sport. He was fast. So fast, in fact, that the Army would twice recall him from active duty to train for the Olympics.


A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

A helicopter deposits troops in the Mekong River Delta of Vietnam.

(U.S. Air Force)

The first recall came in 1964 for the Tokyo Olympics, where Pender placed sixth. After the games, he went to officer’s candidate school. A few years later, Pender was sent to the Mekong Delta of Vietnam as a platoon leader.

The fighting was fierce, with rounds tearing through the underbrush to crash into the bodies of American soldiers. One day was particularly bad for Pender and his men.

“You couldn’t see the enemy; they were shooting at us from the jungles,” Pender told his friend Keith Sims during an interview. “And, uh, I had one of my kids killed. This young man died in my arms.”
A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

U.S. Army soldiers take a break during a patrol in Vietnam.

(Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr. Collection, Texas Tech University)

Later that same day, Pender was told that he had to go home. The Army needed him to run in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, this time as part of a four-man relay team. Pender tried to stay, but was told it wasn’t optional.

“And I told my men, I says, ‘I’m going back for you. I’m going to win this gold medal for you guys,'” Pender told Sims.

But the 1968 Olympics were roiling with the same racial tensions that were consuming America as black athletes protested racial violence in the states.

When we got to Mexico, we start getting threats from the president of the Olympic Committee, saying if we demonstrated in the Olympics, ‘I’m going to send all you boys home.’

How are you, how are you going to call someone ‘boy’? I mean, here I just got out of combat, seeing people die defending my country, and you’re going to call me a boy? They don’t make boys like me.

www.youtube.com

While Pender opposed the restrictions that were being placed on black athletes at the games, he acceded to orders from a colonel to not take part in any protests.

He focused on the games and the promise he had made to his men to win a gold medal for them.

“To be on the relay team, it was my time to shine,” he said. “I ran my heart out. We ended up winning the race at a world record time of 38.2 seconds.

The world record in the event has been beat numerous times since, but only by fractions of a second each time. Pender’s team’s 38.2 second run is still less than two seconds from the current world record of 36.84 set by a Jamaican team (You can see the race on YouTube here).

www.youtube.com

Despite Pender keeping his head down at the games, he did end up tangentially connected to protests. His roommate was John Carlos, one of the athletes who famously gave the Black Power salute on the podium during the U.S. Anthem, something that the athletes and Pender maintain was about asserting black humanity, not disrespecting the anthem. Pender told Sims:

You know, when Carlos came back to the room, I could see the hurt in his eyes and he just said, ‘I did what I had to do, Mel.’ And that’s when I told him, I said, ‘I’m so proud of you.’

They was not trying to disgrace the national anthem of America. What was happening was wrong. They were trying to show the world. ‘Hey, we are human beings. We are human.’ That changed my life.

Carlos and another demonstrator were stripped of their medals. Pender, meanwhile, went back to Vietnam after the games and received a Bronze Medal for his service. He rose to the rank of captain and served as the first black track and field coach at West Point before retiring with 21 years of service in the military.

Pender lives in the Atlanta area with his wife and recently told the Atlanta Journal Constitution the he still believes America “is the greatest country in the world,” a sentiment he shares with during motivational talks at high schools and other venues.

Most of the quotes in this article came from a recent StoryCorps interview between Keith Sims and Dr. Melvin Pender. A two-minute excerpt from that interview is available here.

MIGHTY GAMING

Here’s how you can play in the new Call of Duty esports league

Everyone’s favorite gaming franchise, Call of Duty, launched its esports league Jan. 24 to the excitement of fans across the globe. Owned by Activision Blizzard, the Call of Duty franchise continues to be their most popular brand and the company is hoping to capitalize on that success with this new league.


That’s right: thousands of people are gathering in stadiums to watch other people play video games. Just like toddlers like to watch toy unboxing videos, middle-aged women like to watch other people buying houses, gamers came out in droves to watch some of the best in the world go head to head playing Call of Duty.

The league makes sense: one of the Call of Duty titles has been the best-selling game in the U.S. for nine of the past 11 years, according to market analysis firm the NPD Group.

According to ESPN’s Jacob Wolf, Call of Duty League franchise owners paid million or more to secure their place in the Call of Duty League, which boasts 12 professional teams, representing 11 markets across North America and Europe. The teams are:

A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

Call of Duty Esports League Teams

Here is the rundown of the Official Call of Duty League Rules:

  • Pro teams compete in 5-vs-5 Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare multiplayer matches, on PlayStation®4.
  • Call of Duty League matches will be played around the globe in the home market of each team in the league.
  • The league features the best Call of Duty esports players from around the globe.
  • Players are paid; starting salaries range around k.
  • At the end of the regular season, the top 8 ranked teams, including four wild card spots will advance to the playoffs.
  • During the Call of Duty League Championship Weekend, the final six Playoffs teams will face off in double-elimination competition until the final two pro teams go head to head in the Call of Duty League Championship.
  • Teams will be battling to take home the glory of being the best in the world and reportedly over million in prizes. Yes, we said million.

Want to get in on this? There are plenty of ways for fans to get involved, according to the Call of Duty League website:

Launching later this season (2020), fans may sign up as duos to compete in Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare “Gunfight” matches for a chance to win prizing and to compete at a Call of Duty League event. More details about the City Circuit will be announced in the coming months.

Additionally, throughout the season the Call of Duty League will unlock new opportunities for spectators and amateur players to participate online and at league events to be announced in the future.

Here are the results from opening weekend.

A hungover Air Force vet scored the first Super Bowl touchdown ever

Call of Duty League Standings


Fans can vote for their favorite players on the website as well as see league standings. Get ready to buy all the merch.

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