Military And Science Have Been Friends Of the NFL For DecadesBREAKING NEWS, Coaching Staff, Eagles, News Friday, February 15th, 2013
Many Eagles fans were shocked about Chip Kelly’s decision to hire a former Navy Seals trainer, Shaun Huls, to his staff. I was neither surprised nor shocked. There has been a close relationship between the military, science and the NFL for a long time. I haven’t done exhaustive research on the matter but some of the best coaches I have ever played for had military backgrounds.
The sports science part of it is also nothing new to the NFL. Back during the 1970′s, the Dallas Cowboys had a guy on their staff by the name of Bob Ward.
He was a lot like Shaun Huls in that he was a sports scientist who fought and taught the martial arts. The Cowboys were ahead of the rest of the league for about a decade because of the information Ward gathered from the military, other sports and scientific research.
Ward was one of the first guys to teach defensive linemen how to fight like a martial artist and boxer in order to keep the offensive linemen’s hand off of them.
The Cowboys were the first team to demand 10 yard, 20 yard, 30 yard and 40 yard times on each player. They would come out to your school and measure your entire body. They were the first to realize that it was important for your linemen to have long arms. They were the first to time you in a shuttle run to measure you change of direction. The other teams just talked to you and had you run a forty-yard dash, but the Cowboys wanted much more data on you to put into their computers.
We had a defensive line coach at USC by the name of, Marv Goux. He had been a staff sergeant in the Army and he during the Korean War. He had played at USC and was half-crazy. The guys used to say he got hit in the head and war and football just got mixed up in his mind.
He would put every player who came to USC through a heart check. Normally during a practice you would rotate through the plays. First you would have the first-string teams take three plays, then the second-string teams would go in and take three, then the third-string teams would take a few and maybe the fourth-string teams, if we had that many guys.
But one day, Goux would tell you to stay in there until he told you to come out. This was his test. You would have to stay in there and play maybe 50 or 60 plays in a row. All the time Goux would watching you to see if you would stop fighting during each play.
After a while you would get fatigued and be unable to play that well, but Goux was looking at that he was seeing if you would stop fighting. You would be ready to pass out after practice, but Goux would then walk up to you and say, “Congratulations son you can wear the Cardinal and Gold. Boys we’ve got ourselves another Trojan to go to war with”.
I told you Coach Goux hurt his back in a game against Notre Dame, so he looked forward to the Notre Dame-USC game each year. He wasn’t the head coach, but every year he would give the pre-game speech for the Notre Dame game.
It would be a war speech about burning down the town and taking no prisoners. We loved it. During those days USC dominated Notre Dame.
Buddy Ryan was also a former Army staff sergeant and he knew something about how to lead men into battle and how to develop an “esprit de corps” amongst his players. Buddy would build a togetherness within his defense that was unbreakable. When he was defensive coordinator for the Bears in 1985, his players carried him off the field after they killed the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
Buddy taught a closeness and commitment to the guys you were playing along side, which gave meaning to every play in the games. It made the games more than just games. Buddy believed in laying it all on the line for the guys who were in the defensive meeting room.
He would treat us all like crap by making things very tough on us early in camp. Buddy believed in not showing the offense any mercy, like you were in a war. He would make things almost unbearable for us in camp and demand that nobody let down the guy next to you.
Eventually he would let up with the work load, but he would continue to push being accountable to each other.
“I remember Buddy telling us during a strike. If one of the come in then you had better all come in. If one of the you stay out then you had better all stay out.”
He meant he wanted us together.
Tom Landry was the longtime coach of the Dallas Cowboys and he was a fighter pilot in World War II and he flew fighter planes over Germany. He was one of the most organized men I have ever known. Everything about him was organized and it reminded me of my Dad, who was a soldier in the Army.
Landry was the main reason the Cowboys had 20-straight years of making the playoffs.
He had tremendous discipline and so did his football teams. Landry lifted weights and ran each day just like his players and this was when he was over sixty-years of age. If you didn’t see his face and you just looked at his legs and torso, you would have thought he was one of the players on the team. That’s how disciplined he was.
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