RHINELANDER - Rhinelander football honors former Hodag and NFL player, Mike Webster multiple times throughout the year. The field is named after him and this weekend, the team trained like he did by having its annual Iron Mike run.
Mike Webster played for the Hodags and then went on to play for the Pittsburgh steelers. His nickname was Iron Mike and the Rhinelander football team honors him by literally training with iron.
"It weighs on you after a while, carrying 45 pounds for a ways," said senior Reuben Guzik.
Webster would train with 45 pound plates, so now Rhinelander does too. Teams of four run a 3k while carrying a 45 pound plate
"The biggest challenge is pushing yourself with your teammates. You don't want to pass a plate onto a teammate for too long, you don't want to tire them out, you want to carry your load for as much as possible," said Guzik.
Junior wide receiver Josh Francisco ran the Iron Mike for the first time this year.
"It was a little easier than I thought I'd be," said Francisco.
The rules are that someone on the four-person team has to carry the plate the entire way. But then when you cross the finish line, you have to all be holding the plate so you finish as a team. The strategy side of things was almost as hard as the physical challenge.
"We'd help him out or just take the plate from him and let him rest and then take turns from there," said Francisco.
Guzik and his team are all done with their high school football careers but they wanted to keep running in the Iron Mike to make it more fun for everyone involved.
"The seniors when we were younger, they did it and it just gets some friendly competition and see who can do it faster," said Guzik.
Guzik's team finished first in the alumni division and Francisco's team finished first for the current players.
Mike Webster is now known as the first former NFL player to be diagnosed with CTE after numerous concussions. The money raised from the run goes to new helmets and other safety equipment to prevent injuries like CTE.