FOX Sports NFL reporter Jay Glazer has another life as an Mixed Martial Arts expert, and he's been training more and more players in the ways of the Octagon in ways that have definite positive impacts on their NFL exploits. He recently put a group of locked-out NFL players through their paces. Participants at the True Warrior Fitness studio in Los Angeles included Clay Matthews of the Green Bay Packers, Kirk Morrison and Marcedes Lewis of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Jarrad Page of the New England Patriots.
"Everything we do in here is sport- and position-specific," Glazer recently said of his increasingly popular NFL training. "The whole point of MMA athletics is to find where a guy's breaking point is, and to push past it. The big thing here is, you check your ego at the door."
Watching the workouts Glazer and MMA legend Randy Couture put the players through would lead one to assume that if any of those guys walked in with egos, they wouldn't last long — the sheer amount of energy required leaves little room for posturing.
I asked Maggie Hendricks, who writes about the MMA for Yahoo's outstanding "Cagewriter" blog and football for NBC Chicago, just how prevalent the crossover is, and how the MMA fighters feel about the NFL's informal appropriation of their methodologies.
"The fighters love it because they appreciate the intensity that football players bring to the table," she said. "Conversely, the value of that training is becoming more and more clear to NFL stars. I've informally talked to NFL players who love it. They talk about the intensity [MMA training sessions make two-a-days look like aerobics at the 'Y'] and the body control they learn. So much of MMA is focused on hip control and proper placement of hands, and linemen and linebackers love that."
Why will the crossover increase? "I think it will increase because it works," she said. "The Atlanta Falcons brought Glazer's company [which he runs with Couture]) in for off-season training last year, then had the best record in the NFC. Jared Allen's game skyrocketed when he started MMA training."
And what would fans of one sport enjoy about the other game? "Football fans would like MMA because like football, it's straight violence at the surface, but when you look closer, it's very strategic. And if you like big hits, you'll like knockouts."
Hendricks added that the MMA concussion protocol is light years ahead of the NFL's — if a fighter is even suspected of having a concussion, he's suspended for seven days.
If you'd like to read more about the NFL-MMA connection, Cagewriter has set you up very well.