That's right, ladies and gentlemen. While you were sitting at your desk or whatever it is you do on a Friday morning, I was working out with the NFL. Well, at least one member of the NFL but still.... There we were, side by side, doing squats and chest presses and making small talk in between. You could say my workouts have been taken to a new level but maybe I'd better start at the beginning first.
This little corner of Northwest Florida is rich with gifted athletes. We're talking not just kids who do well in the local high schools and go on to compete at the college level, but athletes who reach...and excel at the professional level. There's Don Sutton and Buck Showalter in baseball, Bubba Watson and Jerry Pate in golf, Justin Gatlin in track and field, and Emmitt Smith and Derrick Brooks as well as a host of others in football, including Doug Baldwin who plays for the Seattle Seahawks. How many other areas can claim a Masters champion, an Olympic medalist, two Super Bowl Champs and two NFL Hall of Famers. We may not be big in terms of population but we are in talent.
Someone came up with the idea that we should be honoring all these incredibly talented individuals and while they're at it, use that ceremonial dinner to raise money for a local sports hall of fame. While most of these athletes no longer live here, they still maintain ties to the area and offer their personal and financial support to their respective sports. Recognizing their accomplishments and showing the community's pride is a grand idea although I'm not fully convinced a local sports hall of fame will be the tourist draw the politicos think it will be. But that's neither here nor there.
Last night's gala honored Justin Gatlin, Bubba Watson and Derrick Brooks who'll be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame later this summer. We watched Bubba grow up as a tag-along to golf tournaments with our friends Hiram and Bonnie and their family so while I'm in awe of what he's accomplished, I still see him as that lanky kid in the pink knickers or the goofball who walked through the sliding glass door when the Cooks lived next door to us. We didn't attend this event but it was cool to see all the professional athletes who did return to their roots to participate in it. What's $250 a plate when you're earning millions?
Fast forward to this morning. When I walked into the room for the strength class I attend twice a week, I was introduced to a young man named Cortland by his mom who's a regular in our class. Now I knew she had a son who played in the NFL but let's be honest here...I don't follow the NFL. We're all on mostly a first name basis in class so I didn't know his last name, and frankly, he didn't look like the stereotypical NFL football player. He looked strong alright but he was shorter and more wiry than I would have expected. I had to come home and ask Wayne to find out exactly who he was although his picture was in the story about the even in this morning's paper. Cortland Finnegan.
Cortland and I did just fine pumping a little iron together there in the back of the class. Well, there is the fact that his weights were at least twice and sometimes three times heavier than mine but I noticed he wasn't exactly rocking those planks on the exercise ball by the third set either. I'm sure he's used to a fancy room with professional trainers at the Rams practice facility but I liked that he was willing to come to our little hometown gym and work out with his mama. He was a great sport about it too; not every pro athlete would want to join a handful of women as they sling a few hand weights around. The upside: We don't grunt and we probably smell better than his regular workout companions.
We don't get many men in our class so it was kind of fun to have one join us this morning. You pick your own weights so it didn't matter than he's a lot stronger than the rest of us. He was just as challenged doing kickbacks with 25-pound weights in each hand as I was with 8-pound ones. It all evens out in the end.
I enjoyed working out with the NFL today. Better he comes to my gym and lifts weights than me try to go to his and do the same.