It is summertime. The season meant for leisurely activities, like grilling shirtless and drinking before "acceptable" times. It’s the season of shorts. It’s the season of driving with the sunroof open blaring Dom Kennedy, who sounds a thousand times better during summer than he does at any other time of year, because science. It’s too nice to be inside and so everyone is crowding the park, playing games that feel distinctively made up, like KanJam or cornhole. All fun, all good, all easily recognizable as such from a distance. This, however, does not look like fun:
So far we’ve been talking about me and you, reasonable people. Whatever "normal" is, we’re probably that. But none of us are 39-year-old Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who is neither normal nor reasonable, and could probably kill a building if he tried hard and believed in himself enough. He reserves summer for other things. For Harrison, ’tis the season for inventing new ways to keep his biceps torso-sized and his traps mountainous. A lot of the time, this is happening while he’s wearing a full heather gray sweatsuit, which is funny because it’s an outfit otherwise associated with giving up. Anyway, this is what happens when you search "James Harrison" in Google Images:
Muscles. Bench Press. Workout. Body. (Wife.) These are still subcategories that could apply to any professional athlete. But should you choose to peer into the "Workout" tile, you’ll notice that he’s bench-pressing 500 pounds, and DOING ONE-HANDED SHOULDER PRESSES WITH BARBELLS.
If you want to think about how lazy and not-strong you are, Harrison’s Instagram account is a great place to go. I don’t know that I’d call it motivation — that would imply that reaching this level of strength is a thing that could plausibly happen, when you have other things to do, like not hurt yourself. To make the #GAINZ necessary to hip-thrust 765 pounds, I would need to be able to divvy up my weight lifting between teams of people, and they’d need to work in shifts.
I’d suppose mercy is the reason why he deletes his old posts. Either that or he just hates looking at his old work because there are always more daunting sleds to push. Those feats of superhuman strength exist only as screenshots now. (They’re probably on YouTube in compilations set to hard rock or something, but I’m not doing that to myself today.) In addition to being diesel, Harrison is also considerate; he wears the sweats so people aren’t discouraged by how big his muscles are.
Still, every summer, like clockwork, we’re intruded upon by Harrison doing avoidably difficult workouts — ones that suggest he’s preparing to go one-on-one with the Hulk in uptown Manhattan, and not … whoever the Browns’ left guard is, in Cleveland, four months from now. His exercise routines, like jump-passing a medicine ball over a net, wholly reject the idea of summer fun in favor of work and pain.
Hoover-Ball is an actual thing that President Herbert Hoover played to stay in shape, by the way. But this is what that looked like:
And I think that we can agree that "Danneyball," which is what Harrison was doing with three other workout partners I imagine were press-ganged into it, is appreciably more Xtreme.
Couldn’t be me. Literally.