When I first got to the field to watch Tommy Calhoun, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I knew that he was a 75-year-old quarterback and that he played with and against guys that were half his age, but I had no idea of the talent level of the league.
What I saw from Calhoun legitimately blew me away. It was easy to pick Calhoun out on the sideline, as he was the only player with gray hair. However, purely from a playing perspective, his ability on the field was that of someone 30-40 years younger than his actual age.
READ MORE: What’s Your Fitness Age?: Physical Literacy
His movement belied his 75 years. Calhoun jogged and carried himself on the field like a much younger man and there was a quickness to his movements that the majority of senior citizens just can’t replicate.
As Calhoun told me, it’s no accident that he’s been playing in this league for 57 years. It takes a lot of work to be his age and still be able to get on the field each and every week with the ‘young guys.’
“I have a gym in the basement of the house and I go down there religiously to work out,” Calhoun said. “I’m consistent. I do it every day, upper body and lower on different days.”
READ MORE: What’s Your Fitness Age?: Strength
He uses a mix of a Bowflex machine, free weights, an elliptical machine and a stationary bike to work on his strength, mobility and cardiovascular endurance.
Obviously, his preparation during the week has changed as he’s gotten older.
“I may not be lifting quite as much, but I’m trying to,” he told me. “I do a lot of walking. I have a dog, so I’m out of the house 3 or times a day, I walk for three or four hours a day and that helps.”
Brisk walking is an essential component to health and fitness, especially as one ages. The hallmark of any successful fitness routine is one that you can commit to and gets your body moving every day.
READ MORE: The Culture of Fitness: Capoeira
The daily walking may, in fact, be the secret sauce to Calhoun’s football success. It’s a lot easier to be on your feet, jogging across the field, making quick, sudden movements when you’re walking 3-4 hours a day each and every day.
What about Calhoun’s arm? Wow. His arm isn’t just great for his age, it is a legitimate weapon on the field. And that’s why his teammates call him ‘Tommy Gun.’
“When I first started playing, he would throw and I would get bruises all over my chest,” teammate Courtney Morales said. “He just throws so hard.”
I can attest to that. Calhoun and I tossed the ball lightly off camera. But once the camera turned on, his first throw to me bounced off my fingers before I knew what happened. His arm looked great from the sideline, it was even more impressive up close.
I caught the rest of the bullets he slung at me, but it was easy to see how he’s thrown approximately 3000 touchdown passes in his six decades of football.
It would be easy to dismiss Calhoun’s arm as blessed by genetics. And it definitely plays a factor, but the fact he’s able to throw that hard and that accurate at his age is really a testament to his exercise routine.
He told me that had planned to retire before this season, but he was coaxed back onto the field by his teammates.
From what I saw on the field that day, there’s no reason for him to stop.