135 : The Fine Line Between Building Toughness & Being Destructive w/ David Otey

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There has been a lot of media buzz in the last few weeks surrounding Jordan McNair, a 19-year-old University of Maryland football player, who died two weeks after being hospitalized following a team work out on May 29th of this year, and for good reason. To shed light on this tragedy, I decided to have my friend David Otey on as this week's featured guest. David is a Strength and Conditioning specialist based out of New York City. David is the 2015 Fitness Manager of the Year for Equinox and has been featured in several major fitness publications on the topics of strength and Conditioning. 

David recently wrote an article titled The Fine Line Between Building Toughness & Being Destructive after several current University of Maryland football players and people close to the team described a toxic coaching culture under head coach DJ Durkin and Strength and Conditioning Coach Rick Court before offensive lineman Jordan McNair's death (ESPN.COM).  To be fair, in this episode we are discussing issues within the Maryland football program which are largely allegations at this point, with many conflicting reports.  Regardless, a young man lost his life in pursuit of playing a game, which he probably loved at some point in his life. When I first started this podcast, I sought out to be the voice for athletes who weren't as lucky as me and I would be doing Jordan and his family a disservice if I remained silent on the incident.

Jordan McNair lost his life after suffering from exertional heat stroke. If you remember back a couple of years I posted a series of episodes with the experts from the Korey Stringer Institute where we discussed everything there is to know about illness. After we hear from David, you will hear an excerpt from Episode 38 with Dr. Douglas Casa, CEO of the Korey Stringer Institute and both a survivor and an expert on exertional heat stroke.  In this part of the episode, we learn about the signs, symptoms and treatments for exertional heat stroke. 


Below are some topics David and I touch on throughout the first part of this interview:

  • What took so long for this conversation to start?

  • What lead to losing site of the health and safety of the Maryland football players?

  • The expense that comes with crossing the line in training.

ESPN Article Quotes:

"It shows a cultural problem that Jordan knew that if he stopped, they would challenge his manhood, he would be targeted," one of the current players said. "He had to go until he couldn't."

"We always talked about family, but whose family talks to you like that, calls you a p---y b----?" a third former staffer said. "There are so many instances."

"As soon as you sit out a run, you feel a little dizzy or light-headed, you're not in Champions Club anymore," a former player said.

  • The pressures to push yourself past your limits into dangerous territory.

  • Fostering a positive culture of communication through building trust.

  • The question every strength coach and trainer should ask themselves before working with a team or a client (on a daily basis).

"Somebody only cares what you say when they know you care."

  • The similarities between a "tough workout" and heat stroke.

  • The role of technology in protecting the health of athletes in the future and how the Atlanta Falcons do this today.

"Throwing up is not a badge of honor."

  • The importance of building a strong foundation and earning your intensity.

  • Healthy incentives for goal setting when it comes to athletic performance.

    • Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic rewards

  • Why this incident is a societal issue.

"There is a difference between being right and right."

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Where can you Connect with David?

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Want to hear The Full version of Episode 38?

Download Episode 135 : iTunes | Stitcher