Falcons become first team to embrace MMA offseason training
Over the last few years, an increasing number of NFL players have turned to Mixed Martial Arts in an effort not only to stay in shape during the offseason but also, in the case of some players, to get tough. Most of them have been working directly with FOX's Jay Glazer.
Last year, for example, said he wanted to transform Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart from a "pretty boy" into a "killer."
Glazer's MMAthletics, a company he founded with UFC star Randy Couture, has been hired to provide an MMA program to the Atlanta Falcons, according to Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com, who has written arguably the first article in the history of American journalism commencing with the sentence, "He wanted to puke."
Already a dozen players have volunteered to participate in the MMA training as a supplement to the traditional lifting-and-running offseason regimen. Per Marvez, another four-to-eight players plan to join.
Apart from enhancing conditioning, the goal is to provide players with a stronger desire to win the physical battles they constantly encounter on the field.
"If you hit me once, I'm gonna hit you back five times," Glazer told Marvez. "When the cage door shuts, your job is to break the will of the man across from you. It's the same with football. When the game starts, essentially that cage door shuts. It's your responsibility not to lose. We find what a player's breaking point is and re-establish it every few days. By the end, football has become easy."
Falcons coach Mike Smith decided to add the training to the offseason workouts after meeting with Glazer and Couture at the February Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
"There's a lot of carry-over to football with some of the disciplines they were talking about -- wrestling, leverage [drills] and martial arts with the kicks to open up hip flexibility," Smith told Marvez. "That sparked my interest. I felt if guys were going to go out and do this on their own, why not bring this service into our team and make it available for the guys?"
As more players acquire the MMA mentality, things could get even more intense on the field.
"When you're in that cage and you break someone's will, you can actually hear it," Couture said. "It sounds like a twig breaking."
Hopefully, the parabolic microphones will pick up some of that audio.
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