If you ever wondered why the University of Iowa football program turns out as many NFL-quality linemen as it does, all you need to do is watch a recent video of junior offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs in the Hawkeyes’ weight room.
It gives a vivid snapshot of how much enthusiasm there is for weight training in the Iowa program.
You may recall that a few years ago Iowa lineman Brandon Scherff did three repetitions of 443 pounds in the hang and clean, a weight training maneuver in which the lifter picks up the barbell and hoists it to his chest in one motion. It’s a lift that requires incredible strength in the hamstrings, calves, quadriceps, hips, back and shoulders.
The 6-foot-5, 320-pound Wirfs recently topped Scherff by doing 450 pounds four times.
Just as amazing as the raw power that Wirfs displays in the video is the atmosphere surrounding his attempt and the reaction of his teammates.
Everyone is standing around cheering and urging him on, and when Wirfs is finished, there is a celebration as exuberant and joyous as if he had just made a game-winning 50-yard field goal against Iowa State.
It’s pretty amazing. And pretty revealing.
It’s difficult to discern how Wirfs’ feat stacks up with others in the hang and clean. They don’t really keep records on these things.
There was one report a few years ago that Olympic weightlifting champion Behdad Salimi of Iran lifted 510 pounds. But he only did it once.
Wirfs did a slightly smaller amount four times in a span of about 14 seconds.
Major league baseball made a few potentially significant rules changes last week, including one that will eliminate the possibility of waiver trades taking place after the July trade deadline.
And it also made some other changes to shorten the length of games. These will be considerably less significant.
Commercial breaks between innings for local broadcasts have been shortened from 2 minutes, 5 seconds to an even 2 minutes. That’s going to take a whole minute-and-a-half off the length of games. For national broadcasts, the time will be reduced from 2:25 to 2:00, shaving seven minutes.
They also have reduced the maximum number of mounds visits per game from six to five.
The Chicago Bears did not get involved in the bidding for big-money free agents such as Le’Veon Bell or in attempting to trade for marquee players such as Odell Beckham.
But perhaps no one has done a better job of rifling through the bargain bin than Bears general manager Ryan Pace.
The Bears signed former Vikings, Raiders and Patriots return man Cordarrelle Patterson for $10 million over two years, giving coach Matt Nagy one more toy to integrate into his devious offense and remedying a big problem for the Bears. They were last in the NFL in kickoff returns last season.
Then on Thursday they signed former Packers safety Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix to a one-year contract for $3.5 million. This came a few days after the Packers signed Bears safety Adrian Amos to a four-year, $37 million deal.
Amos was a decent safety for the Bears but was hardly a star. Clinton-Dix, a star quality player early in his career with Green Bay, didn’t prosper after being traded to Washington in the middle of last season but in a defense in which he will be surrounded by star quality players he might do very well.
For a lot less money than the Bears would have had to pay to keep Amos.
Stumbled across this quote from New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman from Feb. 27. He was asked if the team had any plans to trade Beckham, who had just signed a huge contract with the team.
"We didn't sign Odell to trade him," Gettleman said. "That's all I need to say about that."
Less than two weeks later, they traded him to the Cleveland Browns for a first-round pick, a third-round pick and third-year safety Jabril Peppers.
Guess he changed his mind.
One of the most stunning college basketball stories of the past week came out of Peoria, where the Bradley men’s basketball team earned its first NCAA tournament berth in 13 years by winning the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.
The stunning part of the story is that Bradley then chose to bar the long-time beat writer from the hometown Peoria Journal-Star from a media event because the school said he doesn’t "promote the Bradley brand."
Seriously? They really believe it’s the media’s duty to promote their program?
The university somehow found a way to turn a very big positive into a colossal negative.