NFL Picks – 2013, Week 6

This is the fifth week of our season long pick ’em contest. Angela and I had five picks that differed last week and Angela managed to take the lead by winning one more than I. Here’s our records from last week:

  • Angela: 8-8
  • Nick: 7-9

And our overall records:

  • Angela: 34-29
  • Nick: 33-30

We’re also picking the Monday night score and whoever gets closer gets one tiebreaker point. Angela won last week so our current tiebreaker record is:

  • Angela: 3-1
  • Nick: 1-3

Here’s our picks for Week 6:

N.Y. Giants at Chicago Bears
Angela: Bears
Nick: Bears
Green Bay Packers at Baltimore Ravens
Angela: Packers
Nick: Packers
Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Angela: Buccaneers
Nick: Eagles
Pittsburgh Steelers at N.Y. Jets
Angela: Jets
Nick: Jets
Carolina Panthers at Minnesota Vikings
Angela: Panthers
Nick: Vikings
Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs
Angela: Chiefs
Nick: Chiefs
St. Louis Rams at Houston Texans
Angela: Texans
Nick: Rams
Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills
Angela: Bengals
Nick: Bengals
Detroit Lions at Cleveland Browns
Angela: Lions
Nick: Lions
Tennessee Titans at Seattle Seahawks
Angela: Seahawks
Nick: Seahawks
Jacksonville Jaguars at Denver Broncos
Angela: Broncos
Nick: Broncos
New Orleans Saints at New England Patriots
Angela: Saints
Nick: Saints
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers
Angela: 49ers
Nick: 49ers
Washington Indigenous Persons at Dallas Cowboys
Angela: Cowboys
Nick: Cowboys
Indianapolis Colts at San Diego Chargers
Angela: Colts
Nick: Colts
Monday Night Score
Angela: 45
Nick: 56

What Football Means to Me

Recently, my Aunt Susan linked to a documentary regarding the NFL’s denial of a link between football and head trauma and the ongoing scandal that has resulted from the actions (and inaction) of the league. She asked what my brother and I thought about it which led me to think about what football has meant to me in general.

Let me lead by saying that I think it is unfortunate that the NFL has gone to the lengths it has to deny that football can have a negative impact on the brain health of players. Anyone with a lick of common sense can look at the recent research and see that repeated concussions are bad and that small head traumas add up over time. I think the NFL could act as a leader in more meaningful ways than they currently are:

  • Mandate safer helmets which have been determined to provide better protection against head trauma
  • Suspend players for violent hits rather than just fining them (unlike college, I believe these suspensions should be issued post-game rather than in-game)
  • Require that player helmets fit appropriately – a helmet coming off should cause a player to miss the remainder of the half
  • Reduce the number of total games played over a season (or increase the active roster size substantially)

I think this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what could be done. Major changes like revisions to the nature of helmet construction (padded foam rubber instead of hard plastic shells) and removing kickoffs from the game could be viable options down the line. Of course, I would be negligent if I didn’t mention the things that the league is doing already to protect players:

  • Hits to the head are punished (although it seems to be somewhat inconsistent)
  • Concussion testing is now mandatory for players showing symptoms
  • The NFL is promoting the Heads Up Football program in a big way (which is a huge deal, in all honesty)

All this being said, none of the recent research affects the way I feel about football, either as a player or a spectator. Here’s what I said on Facebook:

I know I’ve had concussions while playing and it may have affected me for the rest of my life. Also, the position I played is particularly susceptible to repeated small impacts, which some research has shown is actually worse than single big hits.

All that being said, I wouldn’t trade my playing experience for anything. I learned the value of camaraderie and being part of a team. I had experiences that I’ll remember the rest of my life and a lot of my physical fitness can be attributed directly to football. I think there are ways to make the game safer and I’m hoping they’re implemented, but I’ll never feel bad about enjoying the sport.

I love football. I loved playing and I love watching it. It is a chess game played by large, athletic men (and some women) who need to work together in a very precise way to achieve a shared outcome.

As a player, I experienced the whole gamut of human emotions almost every time I stepped on the field. From pure elation to the deepest despair. Sadness, joy, loneliness, and togetherness – all of these could be felt in a single game. I learned about myself as a man and as a leader. I pushed myself to the limits and the only thing I regret is not playing longer than I did.

As a spectator, I enjoy the technical aspect of the game. While most people who watch football follow the ball and watch the skill position players, I more often than not am watching the intricate stunts and blitz pickups by the defensive and offensive lines. I’m watching the techniques of the linebackers as they read their keys and either drop into coverage or attack. I yell at the TV and boo the refs like everyone else (if not, what’s the point of being a fan) but my enjoyment goes to a deeper level than the play on the screen.

If Angela and I are blessed with a male child in the coming years, I’ll probably encourage him to give football a try when he reaches adolescence and I think Angela will, too. I believe strongly that the benefits of a structured football program outweigh the risks.

NFL Picks – 2013, Week 5

This is the fourth week of our season long pick ’em contest. Angela and I only had one pick that differed last week, but she won it so we’re all tied up. Here’s our record from last week:

  • Angela: 9-7
  • Nick: 8-8

And our overall records:

  • Angela: 26-21
  • Nick: 26-21

We’re also picking the Monday night score and whoever gets closer gets one tiebreaker point. Angela won last week so our current tiebreaker record is:

  • Angela: 2-1
  • Nick: 1-2

Here’s our picks for Week 5:

Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns
Angela: Bills
Nick: Browns
New England Patriots at Cincinnati Bengals
Angela: Patriots
Nick: Patriots
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
Angela: Packers
Nick: Packers
Seattle Seahawks at Indianapolis Colts
Angela: Seahawks
Nick: Seahawks
Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins
Angela: Ravens
Nick: Dolphins
New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears
Angela: Saints
Nick: Bears
Philadelphia Eagles at N.Y. Giants
Angela: Eagles
Nick: Eagles
Jacksonville Jaguars at St. Louis Rams
Angela: Rams
Nick: Rams
Kansas City Chiefs at Tennessee Titans
Angela: Chiefs
Nick: Chiefs
Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals
Angela: Panthers
Nick: Cardinals
Denver Broncos at Dallas Cowboys
Angela: Broncos
Nick: Broncos
Houston Texans at San Francisco 49ers
Angela: 49ers
Nick: Texans
San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders
Angela: Chargers
Nick: Chargers
N.Y. Jets at Atlanta Falcons
Angela: Falcons
Nick: Falcons
Monday Night Score
Angela: 37
Nick: 31

My “Back on Track” Workout

I took about 6 weeks off of lifting weights in the months of July and August. I started lifting again at the beginning of September and it took a few weeks to get my body used to the stresses again. Last week, I finally felt like I used to and decided to ramp up my workouts a little bit. This past week has been a bit of a challenge, but I’m happy with the way things worked out and will be reusing this workout for at least the next 3 weeks.

There’s a few important things to note about my workout:

  • It is a hybrid split-body workout – most days get their own body part
  • I do intense cardio every day but Thursday
  • I don’t lift weights on the weekends
  • I decided on the weights I would use ahead of time so I wasn’t thinking during the workout

I felt like this week went really well. I feel stronger than I did at the beginning of the week and I feel accomplished because of what I did. I think the plan I followed could be used by pretty much anyone (with modifications to the weight based on your strength levels, obviously). Here’s what I did for cardio and on each day:

Cardio

Every day except Thurdsay, I do 15 rounds of jump rope. Each round is 60 seconds of work followed by a 45 second rest period. I jump as fast as I can and try to mix it up by jumping on one foot, jogging while jumping rope, jumping in a staggered stance, etc.

Monday – Shoulders

  • Barbell Overhead Press: 95×8, 115×8, 135×8, 155×8
  • Barbell Upright Row: 95×8, 95×8, 95×8
  • Dumbbell Lateral Raise: 20×12, 20×12, 30×8
  • Barbell Front Raise: 45×12, 45×12, 65×8
  • Shrug: 135×12, 135×12, 185×8

Tuesday – Legs

  • Back Squat: 135×8, 185×8, 225×8, 275×8
  • Front Squat: 95×8, 115×8, 135×8
  • Overhead Squat: 95×8, 95×8, 95×8
  • Romanian Deadlift: 145×8, 145×8, 145×8
  • Good Mornings: 135×8, 135×8, 135×8

Wednesday – Chest and Back

  • Barbell Bench Press: 135×8, 185×8, 205×8, 225×8
  • Dumbbell Chest Flyes: 30×12, 30×12, 30×12
  • Pull Up (strict form): 4 sets to failure (between 8 and 15, usually)
  • Bent Over Barbell Row: 95×12, 95×12, 135×8

Thursday – Olympic-esque

  • Kettlebell Swings: 53×20, 53×20, 53×20, 53×20
  • Hang Clean: 135×8, 135×8, 135×8
  • Hang Snatch: 95×8, 95×8, 95×8
  • Deadlift: 225×8, 225×8, 225×8
  • Lateral Bench Jumps: 20, 20, 20

Friday – Arms

  • Dumbbell Curl: 20×12, 20×12, 30×8
  • Barbell Curl: 95×8, 95×8, 95×8
  • Dumbbell Lying Tricep Extension (Skull Crushers): 30×8, 30×8, 30×8
  • Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks: 20×8, 20×8, 20×8