The Redskins and their hyperbaric chambers
Santonio Holmes owns a hyperbaric chamber. So does Maurice Jones-Drew. Hines Ward told Pittsburgh reporters it was his "fountain of youth," while Terrell Owens famously said his chamber helped speed his recovery from a broken leg. Zach Thomas and Patrick Kerney used their own chambers for years, while Channing Crowder bought one within the past 12 months.
Brian Cushing, last year's AP defensive rookie of the year, is a well-publicized fan of the chambers. And Dwight Freeney's hyperbaric chamber became a huge storyline last winter when he used it to help recover from a sprained ankle before the Super Bowl.
Yup, hyperbaric chambers are all over the NFL in 2010, so I should have figured they've long-since reached Ashburn. Sure enough, Santana Moss acquired one of the chambers about a year ago, and through Moss's contacts, DeAngelo Hall bought his within the past month.
The players said the oxygen treatments can speed recovery from injuries and keep them feeling fresh - " I get a little bounce to my step," said Moss, who also believes the practice also helps prevent injury.
"It helps with soreness, it helps with injuries, it helps with everything," the receiver told me on Monday. "I recommend it, but it's all about your beliefs. Some guys don't believe in stuff like that."
Indeed, not everyone with the Redskins is into the idea of enclosing themselves in the claustrophobic, oxygen-rich tent.
"I don't believe in that stuff," Larry Johnson said. "I think it's all mental."
This all made me think back to the fall of 2006, when Gilbert Arenas revealed that he had bought one of the tents in the offseason, which seemed to fit with the height of his quirkiness. Gilbert later referred to his tent when defending Barry Bonds.
"I just felt appalled by it because, what if somebody decides to ban the hyperbaric chambers tomorrow?" he wrote on his blog. "Everybody knows that I used the hyperbaric tent last year and I scored 60 points against the Lakers during the season I was using the tent. Now, the Hall of Fame has my shoes from that game. What if somebody decides to take my shoes and put an asterisk sign on them now?"
The media were all over this story when Gilbert first discussed it, but the tents are apparently prosaic enough in the NFL that no one seems to have mentioned Moss's chamber, which Malcolm Kelly also regularly uses. Moss started using the technique during his second NFL season at a New York hospital, and said he saw other patients achieve great results.
"There was a police officer, she was in a bad wreck where she was a vegetable almost, couldn't move or nothing," Moss said. "She would go in there when I used to go in there. After that first year, she was doing things they said she wouldn't be able to do, just by going there."
Moss's tent was professionally installed, but Hall said he installed his in his basement on his own. It cost $20,000, and is "a little bigger than a coffin" before it's pumped up with air. He said the pressure makes your ears stop popping, comparing the feeling to being in an airplane or scuba-diving, and said he'll use it twice a week for about an hour at a time, reading or listening to music to ward off boredom.
"I heard a lot of good things about it, so I figured I'd check it out," Hall told me. "Whatever I can do. Whatever you can do to get better as an athlete, I think you're supposed to do it."
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