A Hippie Lifts Heavy

By Andréa Maria Cecil

In Athletes, CrossFit Games

July 21, 2011

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By matching strongman Rob Orlando in the thruster ladder, T.J. O’Neill helped the CrossFit Southie team place fourth at the Northeast Regional. Andréa Maria Cecil reports.

On the second day of the Reebok CrossFit Games Northeast Regional, T.J. O’Neill walked into the venue wearing a green, yellow and red Rasta hat, a fabric anklet, and sandals.

On the third day of the event, the CrossFit Southie team athlete walked onto the outdoor competition floor wearing an American-flag bandana with part of his shoulder-length hair pulled into a ponytail atop his head. He sported black Converse high-tops that looked like they had seen better days, and he had a toothpick in his mouth.

But what might be most important to mention is O’Neill’s first day at the regional. That’s when he became the only person to match Rob Orlando in the thruster-ladder workout at 275 lb.

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6 Comments on “A Hippie Lifts Heavy ”


wrote …

This guy has only trained Crossfit style for 3 months? Maybe people should be re-thinking how they're training for Crossfit competitions...

If I where this guys size, played college ball, and could Jerk 375 I'd be getting ready for the next NFL Combine. I remember how floored I was when I found out that "Big Rich" Williams skipped on a chance to play pro ball because he was tired of the game and wanted to pursue grip strength competitions like the Mighty Mitts. Sorry...that's a stupid move. So what if you don't love the sport you're awesome at. Suck it up for a year or two, get a couple hundred thousand dollars, then quit.


wrote …

Disagree, Penn - disagree. Admirable moves. Do what you love. Unless these guys have goals that would require a couple hundred thousand dollars to make a reality, that would be a couple wasted years. Plus, if they're playing with half a heart, that'll manifest in their performances, potentially tarnish their reputations, jeopardize their bodies, etc. etc. etc.

I say: all the more admirable that these guys remain so understated and under the radar. Keep it fun, follow your heart.


wrote …

This guy's performance on the thruster ladder was indeed one of the most memorable moments of the weekend.


wrote …

@ Christian, Do what you love? I know two guys in town who started a business where they would haul large items, like broken refrigerators and ovens, away to the local dump for you. They ran this for a couple years and just sold their business for 2 million dollars. Did they love hauling junk the way Bella loves Edward? I doubt it. But they're set for life anyway. They can pursue their goals of raising a family, trout fishing, or whatever for the rest of their lives.

And if guys like O’Neill and Williams had the focus to be stars at the D1 level, then I'm sure they wouldn't suddenly lose their heart and their balls the very next season. And what reputation? If you're only in the league for a year you can't build up a reputation and fall from grace. The fact that you played at the professional level for a moment will be more impressive than not playing. Even if you spend your one year on the practice squad and get no field time you'd still make a stupid huge sum of money.

The median salary for every NFL team is above $500,000. Crossfit is NOT so much fun that giving up a year for half a million dollars doesn't make sense. Consider how much people sacrifice time wise to live the kind of lives they want. You've got people going to school for half their lives to be doctors. You've even got people joining the armed forces and giving up years of their lives, potentially their entire existence, just to make ends meet. In the face of all this, advising someone to suck it up for a year or two so they can become a millionaire by playing a game makes a lot of sense.

Everyone has goals that would be helped by having a couple hundred thousand dollars. Food, shelter, entertainment, travel, maybe building your own gym where everything is silly expensive with Eleiko Bars & Plates, real wooden gymnast parallel bars, EFS Collegate Power racks, ice baths, hot tubs, and a smoothie bar with Blendtech Blenders.


wrote …

@Penn. Quit hijacking a thread that should be about respecting a man who came in and dominated with little CF experience. Remember CF is a mixed bag of various sports. O'Neill played ball, did Oly lifts, was a decent runner. I'm seeing a theme here... Anyway, what he chose to do with his life is his business. Relax and get your head out of the idea that the almighty dollar is the be all end all. From what the article relates the guy's got heart, and that seems more than you can say. Good work, Southie. No doubt O'Neill and the rest of you will bring it next year.


wrote …

PS... my best friend since grade school just graduated in 2010 from U of Nebraska after a successful football career. Made the practice squad for the Steelers and I can tell you from a first hand account, practice squad members make NOTHING even close to 500K a year. That number was definitely pulled from nowhere. It is all the pain with none of the fame my friend. Do what makes you happy. Life is too short.

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