In an interview with Pittsburgh Steelers LB Larry Foote and the Trib, Foote stated that Art Rooney II is having the entire team participate in stress tests. My dad had a stress test once…… when he was 55. (Insert any pun you want here about the age of the Steelers defense) Stress tests can vary in intent and what activities are done during the test, but the bottom line is they give an assessment of overall physical fitness of the participant. That’s important to Art and the rest of the Steeler front office who are trying to keep this team healthy. Regardless of these tests and what kind of assessment the tell of each player, the seasonal longevity of each and every player will be his own responsibility.
I guess that Art is trying to have that eye opening moment like they do when they first weigh in contestants on The Biggest Loser. And while I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone like LaMarr Woodley on that show during the offseason, the team and coaches can only take these assessments so far. At the end of the day it will be up to LaMarr Woodley, himself, to keep his weight down, BMI at a primo number, and be in tip top shape for the start of training camp.
The team (as does the league as a whole) has less power than ever in helping to make sure players are in top form almost year round. That empowerment was stripped away when the most recent CBA became official after the lockout (see here for the three-phase workout schedule). Offseason camps are fewer and farther between, some are now optional, and the players spend less time in pads. This evolution (or de-evolution) of practice for the players fell under criticism because many felt that the players would not be football ready during and after training camp, as well as keeping the body in shape to sustain grueling punishment all season long. The Steeler’s coaches were critical of it at the time and figured that pads in practice and how well a football player holds up at game time through the rest of the season were directly related. The deal was a win for the players, who thought they were taking less punishment, a win for the league who was able to still rake in billions in revenue, but the coaches lost as it has become a nightmare of shuffling injured players on and off the shelf.
So while Art wants his players to know whether or not the National Wellness Institute thinks they are ‘out of shape,’ each and every player will need to condition themselves accordingly until they meet again next week in minicamp, and then again in all out training camp. Period. So hit the gym boys. Ride bikes, hit the bags, jump some rope, and keep it old school like Rocky in did in Siberia. Stay physically fit, and you might just overcome being the shell of yourselves from just three seasons ago. Hell, you might even go 10-6 this year if you can stay healthy and win those 1 on 1 battles late in a game.
I’ve had some fun poking fun at LaMarr Woodley’s expense. No harm meant. He’s a really nice guy and I think he’s a good player. But seriously, LaMarr get your fat butt in shape.