Auburn superstar is expected to be a Top 10 NFL Draft pick. He's also an Army brat. - We Are The Mighty
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

vimeo.com

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

MIGHTY SPORTS

How one of the NFL’s greats honors fellow Cardinal Pat Tillman

It was a big weekend for the Arizona Cardinals. The team has been struggling this season and they were looking to roll into Green Bay and hand the vaunted Packers their first loss at home. It was a special game for a number of reasons, but for Larry Fitzgerald, it allowed him to participate in the NFL’s “My Cause, My Cleats” campaign.

The star wideout is one of the greatest players in the NFL today, and his cleats bore the name and likeness of one of the NFL’s legends – Pat Tillman.


NFL uniform wear is incredibly strict, and the league is known to hand down steep fines to players who step onto the field out of regs. But during the “My Cause, My Cleats” weekend, 800 select players get to sport customized cleats that raise awareness and funds for their personal causes, from fighting colon cancer to ending sex trafficking. Larry Fitzgerald wanted to honor the men and women who serve in the U.S. military.

As an Arizona Cardinal, that meant honoring the legacy of Pat Tillman.

Fitzgerald’s cleats were custom-made by Miami, Florida-based Marcus Rivero of Soles by Sir. He incorporated an image of Pat Tillman himself, as well as the name of former Arizona Senator, John McCain, who died earlier in 2018. The designer also added the name of Fitzgerald’s grandfather, who served in the Korean War.

Beyond simply making and wearing the custom cleats, the Cardinals wide receiver gave a special experience to two U.S. Army veterans and Pat Tillman scholars, Joseph Wheaton and Jameson Lopez. Wheaton is a native of northern Maine who joined the military after the attacks of September 11, 2001. Lopez is member of the Quechan Tribe from Arizona’s Colorado River Valley.

The Cardinals wide receiver gave the two scholars a tour of the Cardinals facility, a chance to meet the trainers and staff, and presented them each with a Pat Tillman Cardinals jersey.

Fitzgerald’s custom “My Cause, My Cleats” wear, honoring Pat Tillman, Arizona Sen. John McCain, and his own grandfather, a Korean War veteran.

The mission of the Tillman Foundation is to empower military veterans and military spouses to become the next generation of great American leaders. More than 580 Tillman Scholars around the country are tackling the widespread issues surrounding national security, healthcare, technology, civil rights, and education.

“I’ve always just had so much respect for everything the organization and foundation has done,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald and the Cardinals improved to 3-9 with a win over Green Bay at home as Fitzgerald caught three passes for 48 yards wearing his custom Pat Tillman-inspired cleats.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Why 20 percent of Army generals couldn’t deploy in 2016

It’s no secret that that U.S. military has a troubling problem, one that prompted Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to create the Pentagon’s “Deploy or Get Out” Policy. It turns out there are many American troops who just aren’t fit to fight — and that includes the military’s top brass.


Information obtained by USA Today found that one in five generals in the U.S. Army could not deploy in 2016 due to medical reasons. The generals were put off by the overdue medical and dental exams necessary to ensure their deployability.

Army spokesperson Brig. Gen. Omar Jones ensured USA Today that the proportion of generals who are able to deploy has since risen to around 85 percent. That number gets higher if the top brass takes care of their necessary blood work and dental examinations.

U.S. Army Generals go through an executive health program to improve their deployability.

(U.S. Army photo by Tracy McClung)

“The Army’s top priority is readiness and soldiers are expected to be world-wide deployable to ensure our Army is ready to fight today and in the future,” Jones told the paper. “The data from 2016 does not reflect recent improvements in medical readiness for the Army as a whole and for the general officer corps specifically.”

USA Today picked up the information using a Freedom of Information Act request. A panel created by then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was assigned to investigate the ethical misdeeds of high ranking officers in 2014. The panel was incredibly effective, finding more than 500 instances of failures in leadership. Part of that report included deployability information for general officers.

First Lt. Dowayne Anderson, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, cranks out fifteen push-ups during a “Battle PT” workout Sept. 4 at Forward Operating Base Ramrod. The unique physical training was designed for team building, cohesion, endurance and to develop Soldier skills.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Justin Weaver)

As of 2016, only 83 percent of the Army’s soldiers were deployable, the lowest of the four branches. Marines led deployability at 90.2 percent, followed by the Navy at 90.1 and the Air Force at 88.8 percent. Since the bulk of the officers needed only simple medical and dental exams, the problem was easily addressed. Since then, Army general readiness is much higher.

As of October 2018, over 93 percent of the total Army ― soldiers of all ranks ― are deployable, while over 97 percent of Army general officers are deployable,” Col. Kathleen Turner, an Army spokeswoman, told Army Times.
MIGHTY FIT

The deadlift will give you the most bang for your buck — if you do it right

Deadlifts are a power movement. This simple yet satisfying act involves loading a bar with heavy plates, chalking up your palms, and pulling it off the ground from a dead stop. It’s the essence of strength: you pick it up and then put it down. No fancy footwork or complex movements required — just a strong back and calloused hands.

The deadlift is an effective way to strengthen the entire posterior chain, and it offers benefits to anyone and everyone, regardless of athletic ability. But many people fear it for a variety of reasons.


In the 1960s, half the population had a physically demanding job. In 2011, that number shrank to just 20 percent. Technology has made our work less labor intensive, causing a decline in our overall health. We sit more than we stand, and we type more than we lift.

There are fewer labor-intensive jobs in the 21st century — and that’s not necessarily good for our health.

(Photo from the University of Northern Iowa’s Fortepan Iowa Archive)

Today, low back pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal conditions and is typically reported as one of the top three workplace injuries. That shouldn’t deter you from practicing deadlifts though — it should encourage you.

A study conducted in 2015 monitored patients using deadlifts as a part of the treatment plan for back pain. Seventy-two percent of participants reported a decrease in pain and an increase in overall quality of life.

Whether you’re picking up a laundry basket, a child, or a package in the mail — everyone deadlifts. The act of picking something up is a daily occurrence. The more we train our bodies with lifts that mimic life or our job, the more they will resist injury in our life. And if you’re in the U.S. Army, you don’t have a choice: the deadlift is slated to become a mandatory event in the new Army Combat Fitness Test in 2020.

1st Lt. Jake Matty, a Soldier from 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division (Gimlets) begins the 3-repetition strength deadlift during a field-testing of the Army Combat Fitness Test.

(Photo by SPC Geoff Cooper/U.S. Army)

However, people are intimidated because the lift can cause major problems when performed incorrectly. The most common mistakes associated with the deadlift are easily correctable:

Rounding the back: When you lose a neutral spine position, the risk of disc herniation is increased. To combat this is, ensure you have tension applied prior to lifting the weight. Activate the latissimus dorsi muscles (lats) by imagining you have an orange in your armpit that you need to squeeze.

Neck misalignment: Ensure your neck is in line with your back. As you lift the bar, your neck should rise at the same rate as your back.

Improper setup: The bar should rest no more than 1 to 2 inches in front of your shins, and your knees should remain vertical to the ankles. If the knees are pushed forward, the barbell is forced to move around them, putting stress on the low back.

The anatomy of a deadlift.

(Photo courtesy of Calispine)

If you’re ready to get started, head down to your local gym — you’ll need a barbell and plates for weight. I recommend trying these three deadlift variations, which offer simplicity and massive benefits. And don’t be afraid to ask a trainer or experienced lifter to take a look at your form!

1. Landmine Deadlift

The term “landmine” indicates that the barbell is anchored into a holder or a corner to angle it. This lift is generally safe because the body remains mostly upright and encourages a flat back.

How To Do Landmine Deadlift

www.youtube.com

2. Trap Bar Deadlift

The trap bar deadlift engages the same muscle groups as a traditional deadlift but puts additional stress on the quadriceps, glute muscles, and hamstrings. The trap bar was designed for the lifter to grip the bar at the sides rather than in front and, in turn, puts less stress on the back.

How to do Trap Bar Deadlifts Correctly

www.youtube.com

3. Romanian Deadlift

This variation is beneficial for lifters who want to increase the positional strength of the lower back, hips, and hamstrings. It also serves as an accessory movement to increase traditional deadlifting numbers. The weight you’re able to lift will be less during this variation but will increase when you convert to a traditional style.

Movement Demo – The Romanian Deadlift

www.youtube.com

As with anything in life, when something is done incorrectly, there is a chance of negative consequences — in this case, possible injury. But with proper execution, the benefits of the deadlift can be lifelong.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Here’s the best part of using a personal trainer

Tony Schy is a 48-year-old dad of a college-bound son and a daughter who is about to start sophomore year of high school. About a year and a half ago, Tony, who works as an executive coach, decided to go to the gym and get a personal trainer. He had never worked out with much consistency and wanted to make a different effort. What happened next changed his life. Here, Tony talks about the mental benefits of being able to have someone make all your fitness decisions for you, and why working out has helped him bond with his kids in new ways.

I’ve been working out with a personal trainer since the beginning of 2018. Part of the reason I started to work out was that I wasn’t the kind of person that exercised on any regular basis, so it was a good way to get started. There’s a very big difference between doing an exercise correctly and incorrectly. It’s the difference between getting hurt and not getting hurt. So being with a personal trainer helped me learn correct form and build a little bit of confidence.


I would say that I’m the typical middle-aged dad where you just slowly gain a little bit of weight every year. Most people don’t wake up and say “I’m 70 pounds overweight! How did that happen?” But you know, you gain one to two pounds a year over a decade, and all the sudden you’re overweight pretty fast. My weight just kept creeping up and creeping up and basically, I had just had enough. And it was the right timing. My wife went back to the gym. So I said, I have to do something here.

The first six weeks, I’d go to the gym, my heart rate would get up, and I’d leave the gym after the workout I’d have to go horizontal for a few minutes when I got home. My heart rate would still be really high by the time I got home 20 minutes later.

But once I got past that, I really started to enjoy it. So I’d say it was about six weeks before that started to subside a little bit — and that’s when I could tell I was starting to feel better overall, and I began to actually enjoy my exercise and crave it a little bit, especially after taking a few days off at the gym.

Then something started to dawn on me. About six months into it, I realized that the trainer would ask me if I wanted to do this workout or that workout, and I started to realize that I didn’t care what workout I did. I just want to come in there and have him tell me what to do.

I almost always work out in the late afternoon or early evening. As an executive coach, at that point, I’ve had a full day of coaching people and making decisions. I’m mentally spent, so to speak. So to me, it’s a huge benefit for me just to walk into the gym and not be the one running the show, like I typically do with my work. So, I can just come in and do what I’m told. I lift heavy things.

(Photo by Arthur Edelman)

I do the reps my personal trainer tells me to do; I do the type of exercise my personal trainer tells me to do. I do not question it. I’ve come up with this theory that this appeals to people like me that are accustomed to making lots of decisions during the day. I can effectively get ‘decision fatigue.’ I don’t know if there’s any science behind this, but I know that there are a certain number of decisions that you can make in a day.

Once you use them all up, you don’t have any more left. Anyway, that’s my theory, and that’s why I love going to a personal trainer.

Beyond the mental benefits, obviously there have been physical changes as well. This time last year, I decided that I would change the way I eat. When I did that, the weight came off. Since then, I’ve lost 80 pounds. Now, I’m down to the size that I was when I was a junior in high school, and I was probably in better shape now than I was then. I’ve completely turned my life around from a physical point of view.

That really comes out in just doing the simple things. My kids like to do high ropes courses and zip lines. Those things are no problem anymore. I can keep up with them, and sometimes I’m faster than them! It’s broadened the level of things I feel comfortable doing, whether it’s rock climbing or hiking with my kids. It’s broadened the range of things that I do. That makes me feel really good.

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

MIGHTY SPORTS

7 great stretches for lower back pain

There’s nothing more debilitating than lower back pain. The grimaces, groans, and feeble feelings one gets from back pain happen because the area is full of nerve endings that react violently to any injury inflicted on them (like a twist while carrying a particularly squirmy kid). If you’ve strained a muscle, there is no real shortcut to healing: You have to rest, ice, and wait it out as your body repairs the microtears. But often, back pain is caused not by tears but by tightness or spasms, and these issues can be addressed through stretching.

These 7 moves are designed to target your lower back. In each case, the stretch should be no deeper than a position you can comfortably hold for at least 30 seconds, and should never be so intense as to cause pain. Slowly ease into each position, and when you reach a point of manageable intensity, focus on breathing in and out deeply for 30 seconds to one minute.


(Photo by Katee Lue)

1. Child’s pose

Funny, isn’t it, that a likely source of your back pain is also the name of the exercise to ease it? To perform this yoga-inspired move, start on all fours. Slowly sink your hips back toward your feet, until your butt touches your heels and your chest is pressed against your quads. Extend your arms in front of you and feel the gentle stretch along your back.

2. Cradle pose

Turn over onto your back and bend your knees, feet flat on the floor. Raise your feet and bring your knees toward your chest. Wrap your arms over your shins as if you are giving them a big hug. Gently pull your knees in closer to your spine, raising your head so that your back is rounded.

3. Figure 4

Start facing a chair back, table, or sturdy towel rack. Cross your right foot over your left knee, bending your right knee out to the side so that your legs form the shape of the number “4.” Holding the support in front of you, bend your left knee, stick your butt out, and sink into the stretch, rounding your spine and pulling away from the support to deepen the stretch in your lower back. Repeat on the opposite side.

4. Cat pose

Another yoga classic, start this move on all fours. Drop your head toward the floor and round your back, imagining the center of your spine being lift by a string toward the ceiling.

5. Floor twist

Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Spread arms out to either side for support. Gently let your knees drop to the right side while you rotate your head and torso to the left. Return to center, repeat the stretch on the opposite side.

(Photo by Jakari Ward)

6. Chair stretch

Sitting in a chair, cross your right leg over your left. Place your left hand at the outside of your right knee. Gently press against your right knee as you twist your head and torso to the right, letting your legs turn slightly to the left. Return to neutral. Repeat on the opposite side.

7. Runner’s stretch

Sometimes, a tight lower back is exacerbated by even tighter hamstrings. For this stretch, start sitting on the floor, both legs straight in front of you. Turn your right leg out and bend your right knee, sliding your right foot up so it touches the instep of your left knee. Lean forward and grab your left toes with both hands (grasp your left calf if you don’t have the flexibility to reach that far) feeling the stretch down your back. Repeat on the opposite side.

(Photo by Alexander Mils)

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

MIGHTY SPORTS

How this soldier pushed himself to the max to make fitness team

Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Zayas wiped the sweat off his brow as he glared at the box on the floor in front of him. Listening to the loud music that echoed throughout the gym, Zayas took a deep breath as he anticipated his next set of exercises.

During a typical high-intensity workout, Zayas would be surrounded by other fitness enthusiasts, but not today. Alone at the Army Warrior Fitness Center, Zayas had one thing motivating him — the clock.

“Training by yourself is OK — you need it sometimes,” he said. “However, you always want somebody right next to you to try to beat you in a workout and give you that extra push.”


With a loud beep, the gym’s timer went off launching the former detentions noncommissioned officer into a fury of movements. For the next 20 to 25 minutes, Zayas would complete a series of box jumps, pushups, rows, wall-ball shots, and kipping pullups.

This was his first of three workouts that day.

High-intensity training started as a way to get back into shape and later evolved into a means to compete, he said. As a member of the Army Warrior Fitness Team, Zayas is determined to represent himself and the Army at high-level competitions, all while encouraging others to join the service he admires.

Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Zayas is determined to represent himself and the Army at high-level competitions, all while encouraging others to join the service he admires.

(Photo by Zachary Welch)

Finding his path

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Zayas was the first in his family to join the military. During the early years of his career, Zayas served as an 88H cargo specialist, but later re-classed to become a 31E internment/resettlement specialist.

Zayas married shortly after joining the military and his family grew, he said. At the same time, the family lifestyle took over. Zayas started to put on excess weight through poor eating habits and an ineffective fitness routine.

“I was back and forth between being in and out of shape,” he said. “I was on the border of getting kicked out of the Army.”

In 2011, Zayas deployed to Afghanistan and saw this as an opportunity to reset. He quickly locked down his diet, engaged in a rigorous fitness routine, and got back into shape.

Zayas returned home to Fort Bliss, Texas, with a healthier mindset and desire to help others. Upon his arrival, Zayas’ wife announced that she was pregnant with the couple’s second child. With a newborn on the way, he did what was necessary to balance his work, family, and fitness schedules.

Shortly after the birth of his second daughter, Zayas and his wife joined a CrossFit gym to help her get back into shape, he said. This was his first introduction to CrossFit.

“I was hooked,” he said. “But, the workout wasn’t much. I would go for one hour like everybody, and then I would work out again [later on].”

Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Zayas is determined to represent himself and the Army at high-level competitions, all while encouraging others to join the service he admires.

(Photo by Zachary Welch)

Competition

Zayas continued to dedicate much of his free time to his fitness routine, all while helping other soldiers with their PT performance, he said. The family eventually moved on to their next assignment at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Zayas was quick to find a local CrossFit gym.

“I met two guys over there that were really competitive,” he said. “I started training with them. That’s what got me into the [competitive scene]. It gave me a purpose.”

Determined to break into the competitive-fitness circuit, Zayas allocated what little free time he had toward his diet and workouts. As a detentions NCO, Zayas was responsible for many of the inmates at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks on Leavenworth.

The USDB is a maximum-security facility for male service members convicted of crimes under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

“I would work eight- to 12-hour shifts, to include physical training, and NCO [tasks],” he said. “It was stressful. You have to deal with different personalities and expected the worst.”

Fitness quickly became an outlet for Zayas to relieve stress, he said. During the worst of days, he would return home, change his clothes, and immediately go into his garage gym to unwind.

“I don’t like lifting angry,” he said. “Once I started training, I forgot what I was mad about.”

All of the long days and nights paid off, making him a better soldier, NCO, and competitive athlete.

For instance, Zayas put on three ranks in five years, and continuously was recognized for his exemplary PT performance. He served as the post-partum PT coordinator for his unit and helped soldiers get back into shape after childbirth. Lastly, Zayas went on to compete in several individual and team competitions throughout Kansas and Missouri.

More importantly, Zayas was selected to join the Army Warrior Fitness Program and PCS to Fort Knox, he added.

Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Zayas and other members of the U.S. Army Warrior Fitness Team attended the 2019 CrossFit Games to support their teammates, Capt. Chandler Smith and Lt. Col. Anthony Kurz, participating in the event. During their visit, the team engaged with the fitness community to share the Army’s story. In the photo, from left to right: Capt. Deanna Clegg, Capt. Kaci Clark, Capt. Allison Brager, 1st Sgt. Glenn Grabs, Capt. Ashley Shepard, Command Sgt. Major. Jan Vermeulen, Capt. Rachel Schreiber, Staff Sgt. Neil French, Spc. Jacob Pfaff, Staff Sgt. Gabriele Burgholzer.

(Photo by Devon L. Suits)

Army Warrior Fitness Program

The Army Warrior Fitness Program is an Army Recruiting Command engagement and outreach initiative. Through this initiative, the Army has an opportunity to connect the soldier community to the “fittest people in the American population,” said Master Sgt. Glenn Grabs, first sergeant of the Outreach and Recruiting Company.

“The Warrior Fitness Team started in the fall of 2018,” Grabs said. “The decision was made to organize a competitive team that could display the strength of the American soldier to the public.”

In February 2019, Zayas and 14 others were selected for the program. The team is a combination of strongman and woman competitors and functional fitness athletes who can participate in a wide range of competitions.

In general, functional fitness focuses on the body’s ability to do basic fundamental movements, such as squatting, bending, moving, jumping, and lifting, Grabs said.

“That’s the great thing about functional fitness,” he said. “These soldiers have the skills to compete at a high level. They can use some [fitness] components to pursue powerlifting, obstacle course races, and other competitions.”

Thus far, the feedback the team has received has been “overwhelmingly positive,” Grabs said.

During many of the competitions, former and current soldiers have asked how they can support the program. Several athletes have also commented on the team’s professional demeanor and overall humble attitude.

Moving forward, Zayas is determined to make the CrossFit Games, a national-level competition showcasing the most elite functional-fitness athletes from around the world, he said. Capt. Chandler Smith and Lt. Col. Anthony Kurz, members of the Warrior Fitness Team, recently represented the Army at the 2019 CrossFit Games.

“I think every athlete would like to get there,” Zayas said. “We are looking to go to the CrossFit Games as a team. I think we have a pretty good shot.

“I am grateful for the opportunity,” Zayas said about joining the functional fitness team. “I never saw it coming. I am grateful to my leadership, which allowed me to participate. We are building something new in the Army [and] it’s going to be here for a long time.”

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

MIGHTY SPORTS

10 ways to get a last-second ‘beach body’

If you want to look good without a shirt on, you need to sweat, eat clean, and lift weights over a long period of time. That’s sort of a no-brainer. If you want to look the way Dax Shepard, Ryan Hansen, and The Rock do on Instagram, though, you will also need a few tricks straight out of the movies. You see, celebrities and Instagram stars don’t actually look that good all the time. They prep their bodies for upcoming projects the way you prep your house before company comes over. (It’s not really that neat all the time, right?) So with a week to go before you and the family hit sand and surf, it’s time to change up your food, hydration, and exercise regimen to put the final touches on your look. Plus, a little baby oil can’t help to make the muscle you do have stand out. Here’s what you need to do to look good this coming weekend.


1. Drink up

It’s a myth that drinking too much liquid will make you look bloated. Actually, when your body sense dehydration, it responds by storing whatever water you do drink under the skin surface, creating a puffy look. Drink 8 to 10 glasses of H2O a day, and avoid caffeinated soda and coffee, which do cause fluid retention and increase the odds of bloating.

(Photo by Joey Nicotra)

2. Get lubed

Baby oil will work. So will olive oil. Both nourish dry skin while adding an all-important sheen to your look. This is key because a shiny surface accentuates the ripples and bulges you’ve been building at the gym, while generously glossing over less-than-perfect areas.

3. Flex first

In the minutes after you do a weights workout, your biceps and pecs are filled with blood, pumping them up to size XL. If big is what you’re going for, hit the gym right before you hit the beach.

(Photo by Arthur Edelman)

4. Wax your back

Yeah, it sounds sketchy. But a bear rug on your backside isn’t just unbecoming, it also disrupts your body’s symmetry and smooth lines, making you look shorter and wider than you really are. True, you could shave it off, but waxing looks better and lasts longer.

5. Hit the steam room

Did you know that the average race car driver sweats out 8 to 10 pounds during a race? While chronic dehydration can cause your body to store water in ways that make you look bloated (see above) a quick trip to the steam room or sauna will help you whittle your way down a size if you’re looking for an 11th-hour Hail Mary. Fifteen minutes is fine — too much steaming will make you feel dizzy and fatigued.

6. Hit those vanity muscles

With just seven days, now is not the time to focus on muscle-specific exercises. You want compound movements — workouts that load up several major muscle groups at once — to get the most mileage out of your sweat sessions. Five that get the job done (do three sets of 10 reps each, once a day): Burpees, lunges, pushups, pullups, and planks (skip the reps for planks and do three 60-second holds).

(Photo by Meghan Holmes)

7. Eat protein, not carbs

In the long haul, skimping on carbs is stupid: They’re the primary source for workout energy and exactly what your body needs for a 3 PM pick-me-up. But in the short term, when you deplete your body’s store of carbs, you force it to burn fat for fuel, temporarily helping you lose more weight. Meanwhile, lean protein helps build lean muscle, so throw another T-bone on the grill.

8. Stand up

Your mama always told you to quit slouching, and evidence suggests when it comes to beach bodies, she was onto something. The straighter you stand, the taller you look, and the slimmer you appear. Focus on pulling your shoulder blades together as you walk.

(Photo by Christopher Campbell)

9. Borrow some bronzer

You didn’t hear this from us, but using bronzing powder down the sides of your abs and along that V-shaped area from your hips to your privates, can give the illusion of sculpting where there is none. Just be sure to blend it with the surrounding skin so it doesn’t look like you’re headed to a Halloween costume party.

10. Skip the salt

Nothing makes your body hang onto excess water like too much sodium. While a little salt is good (it’s an electrolyte that helps regulate important organ functions), most of us eat way more than we should. This week, be extra-conscious of not adding salt to your breakfast eggs and dinner veggies.

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

MIGHTY SPORTS

Raise your fitness game with this 10-move HIIT workout plan

With HIIT, otherwise known as high-intensity interval training, you can bang out impactful, serious workouts out in almost no time. This, plus the fact that they work is a big part of their rising popularity in the past few years. Research shows that when you target heart rate through HIIT, not only do you burn more fat during the workout, you continue to burn fat for 24 hours after you finish. That means a 20-minute sweat session will raise your fitness game far more than a 6-minute run ever could.

HIIT workouts are often divided into categories like strength, core, and cardio. But say you have 20 minutes at the gym and want to cover all your bases. Possible? You bet! Follow this plan of 10 moves. Do each for 30 seconds, followed by 10 seconds rest. Because precise timing is an important part of maximizing HIIT workouts, consider getting a stopwatch or countdown clock to make sure you are sticking with the schedule.


Do the circuit 3 times to complete this total-body routine.

1. Pull-ups

Use an overhand grip to work your triceps and deltoids, cross your ankles, and keep your focus high on the wall. If necessary, use the gym’s assisted pull-up machine. There is absolutely no shame in getting support, and you will build muscle faster doing several pull-ups with weight assistance than struggling to do one unassisted.

2. Push-ups

Aim for one pushup per second. Barring that, one for every 1.5 seconds. Focus on keeping your back flat and your elbow trailing directly back (as opposed to out to the sides).

3. Split squat/barbell press

This combo of a split squat and barbell press will make your quads and biceps burn. Place one end of the barbell in a corner or bar box (someplace it won’t slip out of). Hold the other end in your left hand (elbow bent, hand at chest) adding enough weight to make 10 reps challenging. Stand with right leg about a foot in front of the left. Bend knees and lower into a lunge, keeping your left knee from touching the floor. In one explosive movement, straighten knees to standing and raise left arm straight above your head. Lower arm and repeat. Next time through the circuit, do this exercise on the opposite side. The final time through, do 7 squat/press on each side.

4. Jump lunge

Like jumping jacks, except your legs go front and back rather than out to the sides, this move works your quads, glutes, and core. Start in a deep lunge, both knees bent, right foot in front. Push through the floor and your jump in the air and scissor your feet so that the left foot lands in front.

(Photo by Gesina Kunkel)

5. Kettlebell squat jumps

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold kettlebell handle with both hands. Bend knees until your quads are parallel to the floor, allowing kettlebell to drift back between your legs. Push through the ground as you leap straight up in the air, extending your arms in front of you. Land back in a squat position.

6. Overhead press

Lie back on an incline bench at about 45 degrees. Grab two dumbbells heavy enough to make 15 reps challenging. Bend elbows and hold the weights at your chest. Breathe in, then exhale forcefully as you straighten your arms and raise both dumbbells directly overhead. Inhale as you bend elbows and lower weights. Aim for 15 reps in 30 seconds.

7. Plank jacks

Lower yourself down into an extended plank position (arms straight). Focus on maintaining a straight line from your head to your feet. Jump your legs out to the sides, then back together again. Form trumps speed, but nevertheless aim for about 15 plank jacks in 30 seconds.

8. Standing cable row

Stand facing the cable machine, about two feet away. Position the cable at chest height. Grab cable handle with your right hand. Bend your left knee and raise your left leg in front of you. Bend right elbow and pull your hand to the side of your chest. Straight arm again, keeping left foot in the air. Reverse side on next set.

9. Weighted single leg dead lifts

Grab a light barbell in both hands and stand with your weight over your right leg, arms straight in front of you. Hinge forward at the waist, raising your left leg behind you while lowering the barbell to the floor. In one strong motion, return to standing (focus on keeping your back straight). Switch legs and repeat.

10. V-hold

Sit on the floor, legs straight in front of you, arms at your sides. Shift your weight back as you raise both legs off the floor, contracting your abs until your body form the shape of a V. Stretch arms out in front of you. Hold for 30 seconds.

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

MIGHTY SPORTS

The US Air Force is cracking down on fitness requirements

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein has a message for commanders on their physical condition: Get on a fitness program or your job is at risk.

Addressing a standing room-only ballroom of officers and airmen at the Air Force Association’s 2019 Air, Space & Cyber Conference on Sept. 17, 2019, Goldfein said he will launch an initiative Sept. 21, 2019, requiring officers in command billets to be in shape.

“If you are a commander in the United States Air Force, you are fit. There is no other discussion,” he said.

According to recently published Defense Department data, the Air Force has the second-highest percentage of obese troops, following the Navy. Some 18% of all airmen are obese, according to the most recent Health of the DoD Force report.


Goldfein didn’t provide specifics on his plan, but the initiative is part of an ongoing overhaul of Air Force fitness, designed to ensure that service members are fit without the current emphasis on the physical fitness assessment.

Air Force Maj. Michael Bliss, 703d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Wes Wright)

He will underline his expectations by running the Air Force Half-Marathon at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, on Saturday, a race for which Goldfein said he’s spent three months training and plans to complete. But “you can clock me … with a calendar,” he quipped.

“The point is … I don’t know when I am going to task [commanders] to deploy to Djibouti or Estonia or somewhere in the Pacific and expect you to perform the functions of an expeditionary commander in 120-degree heat or 30 below zero. I just know this: [That] is not the time to start your fitness program,” Goldfein said.

Squadron commanders, he added, will have an additional requirement: Unit fitness will be among the elements they will be graded on as part of a successful command tour.

“There are five elements of a command tour. It’s mission, culture, fitness, family and fun, and fitness is key. … We are going to do this from the top down,” Goldfein said.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Trujillo)

The Air Force is reviewing its physical fitness program with an aim to ensure that airmen sustain fitness throughout the year, instead of simply focusing their efforts on the semi-annual physical fitness assessment.

Among the ideas being considered are randomized testing, a longer time between tests for the superfit, and measures to reduce anxiety around test time.

Speaking alongside Goldfein, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright said the goal is to promote a culture of fitness across the force — a standard he said will improve readiness across-the-board.

“I wish all of us as the Air Force would spend more time throughout the year talking about health, fitness, nutrition and sleep than the time we spend on the test,” he said.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Fantasy Football After Action Report: Week 3

Welcome to the Fantasy Football After Action Report: Week 3, where we separated the overreactions from the underestimations. So pull up a seat and grab a pad and a pen, because this after action report will help you see through the settling dust and give your lineup hope in week 4.


The NFL leader in yards per route run (3.26), air yards (291) and target share (38%) is also one the best separators in the game. Keenan Allen is on his way to a career year, boys.pic.twitter.com/kev2Wqflnk

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Blue chip medal

Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers- Ladies and gentlemen, the number one receiver in fantasy football. It’s not close. He has 87.7 fantasy points, and the next closest, Julio Jones, has 69.5. What more does Keenan Allen have to do to prove to fantasy owners that he’s a sure thing? He’s got an accurate quarterback who loves him. He’s insanely consistent. He can run routes, he can catch, he’s a red-zone target. He’s arguably the most reliable player in all of fantasy football and could very well win you your league.

Russel Wilson, QB, Seahawks- This preseason Bill Simmons went on the record saying this could “be the year that Russel Wilson ends up on the waiver wire come week 8.” Well, it’s week four, and Russel Wilson is the fourth-highest scoring fantasy QB. He still uses his legs to make plays. His team is playing from behind, so he’s forced to throw the ball constantly, jacking his usability numbers way up. He’s a plug and play.

Terry McLaurin, WR, Redskins- Congratulations to Terry McLaurin for becoming We Are the Mighty’s first-ever Promotion Watch turned Blue Chip Medal winner. He is the fourth-highest scoring receiver in fantasy football. He is 110% bonafide the real deal.

Mark Ingram II, RB, Ravens– Mark Ingram keeps proving himself. He did it on the Saints last year, and he’s doing it this year, too. Even against a stout Chiefs defense—he put up RB1 numbers. Lamar Jackson’s playmaking ability stretches defenses out and causes them to play deep and to the hash, leaving room for Ingram to gash teams for big-time gains. He’s an RB1 moving forward.
A touchdown was not scored by Baker Mayfield and the Browns on this playpic.twitter.com/qsOib4JL7e

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Loss of rank

Stefon Diggs, WR, Vikings- Well it’s week three and Diggs has six catches and 101 yards on the year. He is the 70th WR in fantasy football currently, and he couldn’t seem to make anything happen against an absolutely terrible Oakland secondary. Sound the alarm on Stefon Diggs. If you can trade him for 50 cents on the dollar—go buy yourself a couple of gumballs.

Sony Michel, RB, Patriots- How many more opportunities do you give Sony Michel to prove that he is worthy of a RB2/Flex start? He has played against some of the worst competition in the NFL. Last week, after James White’s absence, he was the only solid weapon in the backfield—and he still put up meager numbers. As of now, he is running back 43 in fantasy scoring. The Pats offense is electric, but Michel doesn’t have the spark this year.

Baker Mayfield, QB, Browns- Baker Mayfield is perhaps the least worrisome of the Loss of Rank winners (losers?) this week. He can still make plays with his legs, he is surrounded by weapons, and he doesn’t have a difficult schedule. However, there are five big problems, and they’re all supposed to be blocking for him. Cleveland’s offensive line is so atrocious that Baker gets jumpy within a half-second of getting the snap. He’s moving out of the pocket prematurely (been there, buddy) and making short-armed throws. His fantasy value was grossly overestimated moving into the season.

OJ Howard, TE, Buccaneers- OJ Howard finally racked up a couple of catches. Then he fumbled. He has had an abysmal start. He has little to no red zone targets (which is what his supporters cite when continuing to start him). He was even called out by head coach Bruce Arians after week one. They say insanity is repeating the same action expecting a different result. So if you have OJ Howard and start him, yet again, in week 4— look forward to 13 more weeks of padded white walls, dixie cup meds, and goose eggs from your tight end.

DAWSON KNOX IS ABOUT THAT ACTION (via @BuffaloBills)pic.twitter.com/Stkmy0AtPd

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Promotion watch

Daniel Jones, QB, Giants- Giants fans rejoice—the Eli Manning era has finally reached its end. And boy oh boy was it a coming-out party for Daniel Jones. In a poetic display of how much younger he is than Manning, Jones picked up 28 yards and 2 TDs on the ground. He was lethal in the air too, finishing with 336 passing yards and two more touchdowns. He is surely worth a waiver wire look, even with Saquon Barkley’s injury.

Philip Lindsay, RB, Broncos- Well if you were anything like us, Philip Lindsay brought his A-game to your bench this week. After a fortnight of slumber, Lindsay was a man possessed in week three. He has racked up 26 fantasy points and was clearly the red zone favorite over workhorse partner Royce Freeman. Keep a very close eye on Lindsay moving into week four.

Dawson Knox, TE, Bills- The Bills are surprising everyone this year. They are the Bills, though, and will find a way to mess up this success. One undeniable bright spot that can’t be buffed out is rookie tight end Dawson Knox. He finished with 67 yards (including one monster 49-yard catch and run that was a finalist for Badass hit of the week medal) and a TD. If you’re in a deep league or strapped for tight ends, give Knox a waiver nod.

Taylor Gabriel, WR, Bears- File Taylor Gabriel under the same “sleepy start” tab as Philip Lindsay. The ex-Falcons receiver had an insane Monday night finishing with three touchdowns. Trubisky looked a bit sharper, too, which bodes well for any Chicago pass catcher. This was against a shaky Redskins secondary, so this promotion watch should be met with cautious vigilance.

Here’s Jeff Heath’s hit on Allen Hurns. Looked bad, but Hurns was able to get up and walk off the field under his own power. #MIAvsDALpic.twitter.com/SWrPpnypJI

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Badass hit of the week

Jeff Heath

Well, our two-game streak of offensive lineman winning the Badass Hit of the Week Medal has come to a violent end. Jeff Heath’s hit on ex-cowboys-teammate Allen Hurns can only be described as attempted gridiron murder (although it does look like he was trying to play the ball and ended up decapitating Hurns unintentionally in the process). According to multiple sources, Heath actually texted Hurns after the game and said he “hated the outcome of the play” and was “thinking about him.” Damn. Us too, man.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Here’s why China and the NBA are coming to blows over a tweet

The NBA and China are locked in an escalating feud sparked by a tweet that voiced support for protests in Hong Kong.

For over 18 weeks, millions of people in Hong Kong have taken to the streets for increasingly violent protests. Initially, protests centered around a proposed bill that would have allowed for the extradition of Hong Kong residents to China to face trial. Now, demonstrations have ballooned into a fight against police brutality and Chinese encroachment on the semi-autonomous city.

Though the bill has since been withdrawn, protests continue and have recently seen a spike in violent clashes between police and protesters as China marked its 70th anniversary on Oct. 1, 2019. The topic of Hong Kong protests remains a sensitive issue for China, and China has been known to take harsh action against companies that so much as reference its domestic affairs or appear to threaten its authority.


As described by The New York Times, basketball is China’s most popular sport, with a market representing hundreds of millions of fans. According to CNBC, more than 640 million people in China watched the 2017-2018 NBA season.

On Oct. 11, 2019, Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, tweeted out an image which voiced support for protests in Hong Kong. In the days following, Chinese leagues, streaming services, sponsors, and partners, have cut ties with the Rockets and the NBA.

Here’s everything you need to know about the feud, from the initial tweet to the escalating backlash.

On Oct. 4, 2019, Morey tweeted out an image that voiced support for a protest group in Hong Kong.

In the since-deleted tweet, Morey posted the symbol of Stand With Hong Kong, an activist group that has been behind calls for foreign government intervention in Hong Kong.

The tweet immediately prompted backlash from Chinese social-media users, who targeted his account with angry messages and calls for his firing.

In response to the backlash, Tilman Fertitta, the owner of the Rockets, addressed the controversy on Oct. 5, 2019.

Seeking to do damage control, Fertitta distanced the team and its shareholders from Morey’s statement.

“Listen….@dmorey does NOT speak for the @HoustonRockets,” he wrote.

He later defended Morey on ESPN, saying that he had “best general manager in the league” but that Rockets had “no political position.”

On Oct. 6, 2019, the Chinese Basketball Association, which represents China in the International Basketball Federation, announced it was halting cooperation with the Rockets in response to the tweet.

The CBA’s president is Yao Ming, the former NBA All-Star who played for the Rockets from 2002 to 2011.

“The Chinese Basketball Association strongly disagrees with the improper remarks by Daryl Morey, and has decided to suspend exchanges and cooperation with the team,” the CBA said in a statement on its official account on Chinese microblogging platform Weibo.

Several of the Rocket’s sponsors and partners announced that they would no longer broadcast games.

State broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) and the livestreaming platform Tencent Sports, announced on Sunday that they would no longer broadcast Rockets games.

Tencent Holdings represents the NBA’s largest digital partner outside the US. It struck a deal in July to stream games and other league programming in China reported to be worth id=”listicle-2640934493″.5 billion.

The Chinese consulate in Houston said in a statement that it was “deeply shocked” by what it described as Morey’s “erroneous comments on Hong Kong.”

“We have lodged representations and expressed strong dissatisfaction with the Houston Rockets, and urged the latter to correct the error and take immediate concrete measures to eliminate the adverse impact,” the statement said.

On Sunday evening, the NBA responded and called the tweet “regrettable.”

Morey on Sunday responded to the firestorm on Twitter, saying his views did not necessarily reflect those of the NBA or the Rockets.

The NBA also issued a statement:

“While Daryl has made it clear that his tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA, the values of the league supports individuals educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them,” the statement read.

On Oct. 7, 2019, Democrat and Republican lawmakers hit back over the NBA’s ‘shameful’ response to Chinese backlash.

Some lawmakers came out in support of Morey and criticized the NBA for distancing themselves from the league manager.

“As a lifelong @HoustonRockets fan, I was proud to see @dmorey call out the Chinese Communist Party’s repressive treatment of protesters in Hong Kong,” Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said on Twitter on Monday.

“Now, in pursuit of $, the @NBA is shamefully retreating.”

Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey slammed the NBA for “apologizing” to China.

“And the #NBA, which (correctly) has no problem with players/employees criticizing our govt, is now apologizing for criticizing the Chinese gov’t,” Malinowski tweeted. “This is shameful and cannot stand.”

The NBA issued another statement on Oct. 8, 2019. This time, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the league would not “censor” players or team owners.

“The NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say,” Silver said in a statement. “We simply could not operate that way.”

“I do know there are consequences from freedom of speech; we will have to live with those consequences,” he added. “For those who question our motivation, this is about far more than growing our business.”

Following Morey’s statement, Chinese broadcasters said they would stop broadcasting NBA games.

“Any speech challenging a country’s national sovereignty and social stability is not within the scope of freedom of speech,” CCTV said in its announcement that it would be halting all broadcasts of NBA preseason games.

Silver responded by calling the move “unfortunate.”

Tencent Sports followed the measure and issued a statement saying that it would temporarily stop showing all NBA preseason games.

Fans have since weighed in on the controversy. On Tuesday, fans began showing up to games with T-shirts and signs voicing support for Hong Kong.

At the Philadelphia 76ers exhibition game against the Guangzhou Loong-Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday, two fans were escorted out of the arena after holding up signs and cheering in support of the protests.

The 76ers responded in a statement, saying the protesters caused a “disruption” and were at the center of “multiple complaints from guests.” Wells Fargo Center said the two were given “three separate warnings” for “disrupting the live event experience.”

On Wednesday, some NBA fans at the Washington Wizards vs. Guangzhou Loong-Lions game in Washington wore “Free Hong Kong” T-shirts and holding protest signs said their signs were confiscated.

On Oct. 9, 2019, all of the NBA’s official Chinese partners cut ties.

All of the companies on the NBA’s list of wholly-owned Chinese sponsors had suspended ties with the league as of Wednesday, according to CNN Business. Those businesses included CTrip, China’s biggest online travel website, and the Chinese fast-food chain Dicos.

On Wednesday, promotional material for a preseason game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers was removed from buildings across Shanghai.

Meet-and-greets and media events were also postponed, an NBA spokeswoman said, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The game went on as scheduled on Thursday.

On Oct. 10, 2019, a reporter for CNN was cut off from asking a question to NBA athletes about the conflict.

Christina Macfarlane, a sports correspondent for CNN, was shut down during a media event with Rockets players James Harden and Russell Westbrook.

She asked the players if they would “feel differently” about voicing their thoughts on political and social affairs in light of the controversy.

“Excuse me, we’re taking basketball questions only,” a team representative responded.

The NBA later issued an apology, saying that the representative “inappropriately interjected” and that the response was “inconsistent to how the NBA conducts media events.”

And Nike, a major partner of the NBA that provides the league with team apparel, pulled Houston Rockets gear from several stores in China.

Managers at five Nike stores in Shanghai and Beijing told Reuters on Thursday that they had been told in a company memo from management to pull all Rockets merchandise from shelves.

Three stores in Shenzhen, a Chinese city which borders Hong Kong, took down all Rockets merchandise along with NBA merchandise. Three stores in Chengdu, the capital of the Chinese province of Sichuan, also removed Rockets gear.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

16 facts you never knew about the American flag

It’s time to get out your stars and stripes – it’s Flag Day! June 14, 1777, is the date that Congress officially chose the design for our flag, and Americans have been pledging their allegiance to it ever since. While you’ll only get the day off work if you live in Pennsylvania, the state where the flag originated, the holiday’s history and meaning are important to know. Whether you’re reading this on Flag Day or any other day, these facts are fun enough to learn all year long.


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1. Betsy Ross may not be the flag’s real designer

Betsy Ross is often cited as the designer of the first American Flag, but we have little evidence to support that claim. Her grandson presented statements by his own family in 1870, but beyond that, there’s no proof. Some historians want to transfer the credit to Francis Hopkinson, who was named as the flag’s designer in journals from the Continental Congress.

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2. The celebration of the flag was invented by a teacher

In 1885, a 19-year-old teacher named Bernard J. CiGrand asked his class to write an essay on the symbolism of our flag. He spent the following half-century trying to make Flag Day a national holiday.

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3. There have been 27 official versions of the American flag

On the American flag, the stripes represent the 13 original colonies, while the stars represent each state. Since there weren’t always 50 states, there weren’t always 50 stars. Each flag was similar, but with a different number of stars. If you visit the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, you can see the remnants of the 15-star, 15-stripe flag that inspired the national anthem.

4. The colors of the flag have important meanings

Red, white and blue were chosen to represent, respectively, valor, liberty and purity. The colors also have specific names; “Old Glory Blue,” “Old Glory Red”, and white. Just plain white.

5. The current version of the flag was designed by a student

In 1949, 17-year-old Robert G. Heft created an updated flag for a class project, and the poor kid only got a B-. Luckily, that didn’t dissuade him. He submitted his idea to President Eisenhower when Alaska and Hawaii gained statehood. Our of over 1500 submissions, his design was chosen.

6. The flag has rules of its own. Lots of them.

According to the U.S. Flag Code:

– The flag shouldn’t be flown in bad weather.
– It should be raised and lowered slowly.
– No other flags should be placed above it.
– When flags from two or more nations are flown, they should rest on separate poles at the same height. They should also be about the same size.
– It must be flown at every school and during all school days.
– If flown at night, the flag should be illuminated.
– Flags can be burned if they become damaged and can no longer be flown.
– And many more.

7. You can’t sign your name on it

Despite what flag-signing politicians would have you believe, The Flag Code strictly prohibits adding any markings or drawings to the flag.

8. … or put it on a t-shirt

Every 4th of July, half the country is decked out in stars and stripes. As it turns out, we’re not really supposed to do that. The Flag Code actually specifies that the Stars and Stripes should never be used on clothing, bedding, or decorations. Considering how much Americans love our flag merch, that’s one rule we’ll probably keep breaking for a long, long time.

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9. Flying a flag upside down isn’t necessarily disrespectful

At least not in the way you’re thinking of. An upside-down flag isn’t usually a signal of protest, rather, it’s a signal of distress. On your next cruise, if you see someone frantically waving an upside-down flag on a nearby island, he’s probably not a rebel. He’s stranded.

10. Burning a flag isn’t technically illegal

Historically, unlike flying a flag upside down, burning the flag WAS done as an act of protest. The Flag Protection Act of 1968 made this illegal, but the act was revoked 20 years later. The Supreme Court ruled that the government couldn’t limit citizens’ First Amendment rights, making it legal to do whatever you want to a flag with no legal consequences.

11. Indestructible flags exist

Historically, enemies of the United States have burned or defaced our flag to make a statement. (That’s why messing with the flag is a really, really bad idea, even if it’s not illegal!) To protect defaced flags from being used as a propaganda tool by enemies, a Green Beret veteran has designed an all but indestructible flag. Made out of kevlar and Nomex, the new materials ensure the flag can’t be burned or torn while still allowing it to fly naturally. Here’s how to order your Firebrand Flag today (and the first 150 WATM readers to order get off and free shipping – a additional savings!)

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12. Using the American flag in burial ceremonies isn’t just for veterans

While draping the flag over the coffins of government officials and veterans is common practice, it’s not their exclusive right. Anyone can adopt this tradition if they like it!

13. Old Glory was the nickname of a specific American flag 

We now refer to any ol’ flag as Old Glory, but that wasn’t always the case. It started with a sea captain named William Driver, who nicknamed the flag on his ship “Old Glory” when he saw it flying on his ship’s mast back in 1831. It was such a good nickname that it stuck for good.

14. After 9/11 we held our flag a little closer

National tragedies are known for bringing our country together. According to Karen Burke of Walmart’s Corporate Communications, their stores sold 115,000 flags on September 11, 2001, compared to only 6,400 flags in 2000. In the following year, they sold a whopping 7.8 million US flags- around triple the sales of the previous year.

15. There are 6 American flags on the moon

…but only 5 are standing. Over the course of many moon expeditions, six US flags have been planted. The wind generated by the landing and takeoff of a shuttle, however, dislodged the original flag placed there by Neil Armstrong during the first-ever moon landing.

16. ‘Gilligan’s Island’ directors respected the flag.

During the opening sequence of the first season of the show, the American flag is filmed at half-staff. This was done to honor President Kennedy, who was assassinated the day the pilot episode was filmed.

You don’t have to walk to the moon to honor our flag. Kick off the Flag Day festivities by learning how to properly fold a flag, learn more about its history, or try one of these tasty, patriotic treats!

Which fact was your favorite? Let us know in the comments!