During the NFL’s opening weekend on Sunday, the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers game ended in a rare tie after both teams failed to score during the overtime period. The Browns offensive line coach, Bob Wylie, probably helped boost the game’s ratings after his memorable comments on the popular HBO show Hard Knocks, which documented the team’s preseason training camp.
Last month, Wylie stole the spotlight after a humorous diatribe on the rigorous stretching routine now seemingly ubiquitous across the sports world, both professional and amateur.
“I’d rather watch a plant grow than stretch,” he said, beginning his rant. “Stretching is way overrated.”
“Did you know, World War I and World War II, all those guys that fought in that war – they did pushups, jumping jacks, sit-ups, climbed the rope and ran. None of this fancy (expletive). And they won two World Wars,” Wylie said. “Do you think they were worried when they were running across Normandy about (expletive) stretching? Are you kidding me?”
Wylie poked fun at the thought of a solider asking for a resistance band on D Day. “Give me my rubber band, so I can stretch my hamstring and run across that (expletive) beach,” he joked.
The show revealed Wylie to be a quite the cut up, so it’s safe to assume his playful scoffing maintained more than a hint of sarcasm. Still, it’s uncertain how much. After all, does the coach have a point?
To be certain, professional athletes perform different types of physical feats than the average soldier, so pulling a muscle may prove more likely on the gridiron than a battlefield.
Stretching has many benefits, but the real gem in Wylie’s comments is his appreciation for calisthenics. These body weight exercises are less likely to result in injuries than heavy weight lifting. Soldiers stayed in peak physical condition through disciplined routines with simple workouts featuring pushups, pullups and the like.
Here is the most important takeaway though: staying in shape is a better way to avoid injury than stretching underutilized muscles. Soldiers and athletes alike know how to take care of their bodies, whether they stretch or not. Boot camp helped the soldiers in World War II perform their acts of valor without the stretching found in NFL training camp. Building endurance is necessary for all extreme physical activity.
In any event, Wylie will need to keep his players in healthy and conditioned this week if the team plans to stretch out a victory on Sunday.