Okay, I admit it. I’m guilty. I usually use straps when performing deadlifts, and I’ve taken criticism for doing so.

While it’s true that most lifters can deadlift more weight with straps than without, that’s not the reason I use them. In all honesty, my deadlift is only about 5 kilos/11 lbs less without the use of straps. I figure I make up for that by not using a belt. I don’t use a belt only because it feels uncomfortable to me on deadlifts. So why the straps?

I competed in Olympic Weightlifting from 1981–1989. During that time, I never…

1986 would prove to be the Mets finest season in their 25-year history. The teams’ roster had many star players, such as Gary Carter (acquired from the Montreal Expos) and Keith Hernandez (obtained from the Cardinals). In the outfield was 1984 rookie of the year Darryl Strawberry. The team also had a top-notch pitching staff, spearheaded by 1985 Cy Young award winner Dwight Gooden.

Led by manager Davey Johnson, the Mets easily won their division with an outstanding 108–54 record (still the team’s best-ever record). But winning the pennant and the World Series would not come easily for the Mets.

(Part 1) 1962–1985

1969 World Champion New York Mets

It goes without saying that the New York Mets have not had anywhere near the success achieved by their cross-town rival, the New York Yankees. Since their first year in the league (1962), the Mets have had only 26 winning seasons and 33 losing seasons. And they’ve reached the post-season in only nine of their fifty-nine seasons.

The Mets have had six seasons in which they lost more than 100 games compared to only three seasons in which they won 100 or more games, the last coming back in 1988. …

We look at linebackers, the defensive backfield, special teams, and team defense in this final installment of my memorable exchange with sportswriter Paul Zimmerman.

Almost every all-time team lumps together linebackers as if there is no difference between the linebacking positions. But Dr.Z and I agreed that there are big differences between the outside linebacker and middle linebacker positions–differences in assignments, skills, and talent required. For instance, it would have been a mistake to line up Dick Butkus as an outside linebacker, just as it wouldn’t make sense to have Lawrence Taylor play MLB. …

Me with Hall of Famer Bob Lilly

In Part 1, I shared our thoughts about NFL skill players. In Part 2, we focus on offensive and defensive linemen.

I’ll start with the offensive lineman. At center, I had Jim Otto, Mike Webster, Mel Hein, and Jim Langer. Zimmerman demured. “Dwight Stephenson was the best center ever to play the game,” he said. “Some will argue that he only played eight seasons, but it’s not his fault that Marty Lyons took him out at the ankle and ended his career.”

Howie Long shares Zimmerman’s enthusiasm for Stephenson’s abilities. He recalled, “We once designed a game plan built around…

The late Paul Zimmerman, known as ‘Dr. Z’ was best known for his NFL coverage. And that was the focus of our conversation.

Courtesy of Goodreads

Paul Zimmerman was a renaissance man of sports, so to speak–eloquent, prolific, and with a range of interests. He’s probably best known for his writing in Sports Illustrated.

No longer with us, Zimmerman passed away two years ago. He began working on a book in 2006 but a series of strokes in 2008 left him unable to finish it. Thankfully his friend and fellow sportswriter, Peter King, completed the task.

For me, Paul Zimmerman wasn’t just somebody…

1980 Oakland Raiders, The Unlikely Super Bowl Champ

Linebacker Rod Martin had three interceptions in the Super Bowl

Few saw it coming–before the season began and even at mid-season. But with excellent quarterbacking and a dominant defense, the Raiders won the NFL’s big prize 40 years ago.

From 1967–1977, the Raiders had been one of the top teams in professional football, reaching the post-season every year except for 1971. They had played in nine AFL/AFC Championship games, winning two of them, and in two Super Bowls, winning one.

But 1978 was a disappointing year. In a pre-season game against the New England Patriots, Raiders’ defensive back Jack Tatum’s hit resulted…

A review of Yankees’ history tells us something important about sports and life. Even the mighty can fall.

Anyone who has followed MLB baseball knows the NY Yankees have a rich tradition of winning. From 1926–1964, the Yankees didn’t have a losing season. That’s 39 straight years! During those 39 years, the Yankees won the American League pennant 26 times and won the World Series 19 times.

Only hockey’s Montreal Canadians have come close (32 straight winning seasons), but, in baseball, the Yankee’s reign supreme–winners of 40 American League pennants and 27 World Series trophies. The second-place St. …

Nearly six decades ago, the Green Bay Packers had one of the greatest seasons in NFL history. Here’s why the 1962 team deserves that accolade.

In 1962, the Packers beat the NY Giants at Yankee Stadium to win their second consecutive NFL Championship. They had beaten the same Giants to win it all in 1961 by a score of 37–0. With winds reaching 27 mph at kickoff, and a wind chill measured at 8 degrees F, Green Bay forced three turnovers and won, 16–7. The Giants only score came as the result of a blocked punt.

Just how good were…

Fifty years after he retired, Joe Kapp is still the only QB in history who played in the Rose Bowl, a Grey Cup championship game, and the Super Bowl.

After a successful college career at Cal, Joe Kapp began his professional football career in 1959, playing for the Calgary Stampeders. Then, in 1961, Calgary traded Kapp to the BC Lions. Kapp led the Lions to a 1963 Grey Cup appearance, and the next year the team won the Canadian championship.

Having achieved CFL successes, Kapp took his skills across the border to the NFL. There he had an ally–Bud Grant–who…

Mark Morthier — Old School Sports

I grew up in Northern NJ. I grew up in the 1970s. I was always a big sports fan. I enjoy writing about old school sports and weightlifting.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store