For fans new to football, offensive linemen can seem a bit unusual. Guys who generally weigh over 300 pounds (and often look somewhat out-of-shape) don't tend fit the popular conception of what a professional athlete's supposed to look like, so it's easy for many to conclude that they're chosen simply for their size rather than any particular skill.
That isn't the case, though, as the best offensive linemen are renowned for their technique and their speed as well as their physical attributes (and it's that combination of size and speed that's rare enough to make elite linemen extremely valuable, even if the extent of their value is still a matter of debate). For every Andre Smith out there, there are plenty of offensive linemen who keep themselves in tremendous physical shape. One is Argonauts' offensive tackle (and 2010 second-overall draft pick) Joe Eppele, who's undertaking an unusual off-season training activity this year; he's going to climb the 1,815-foot CN Tower (pictured at right from the next-door Rogers Centre during a Sept. 19 Argonauts game).
No, we're not talking about Eppele scaling the outside of the tower à la King Kong, which is probably good news for both him and the Canadian Forces' pilots. The 6'7'', 307-pound Eppele is going to be scaling all 1,776 steps on the inside of the tower along with hundreds of others on April 14 as part of the World Wildlife Fund-Canada's 21st annual climb. Climbing over 150 flights of stairs is a pretty significant physical challenge even for a professional athlete, so Eppele has been doing 15 to 20 minutes of extra cardiovascular training each day, which should certainly help.
We haven't even gotten to the best part yet, though. Like the others involved in the climb, Eppele's doing it to raise money for the WWF (no, not that WWF!)'s conservation programs. Unlike most of them, though, he's upping the stakes. If Eppele receives $1,776 or more in donations before the climb, he's got a special plan in store:
"I want to earn $1 for every step in the CN Tower. If I do, then I will do the climb in a Sasquatch outfit."
Please make this happen, CFL fans. You can donate towards Eppele's climb here. Could there be a better CFL offseason photo than an offensive lineman climbing the CN Tower in a Bigfoot costume? If so, I'm not sure what it would be...