A question posted recently on Quora asked, "Who would win in a heads up hand-to-hand battle: 32 NFL running backs, or 32 Navy seals?" Check out this response and add your comments below.
By Jon Davis, Sergeant in the USMC
First we need to measure the lethality of these individuals stripped of their equipment. The combatants will be judged based on physical size, physical training and combat training and techniques.
Average size of an NFL Running Back:
Coaching to deliver great force into a target and bring them to the ground.
Most dangerous techniques:
The average size of a US Navy SEAL
About 5’10” 175lbs. This sounds small, but surprisingly larger frames tire out after long periods in the water or high stamina exercises. As a Marine myself, it didn't surprise me to stumble on this.
The martial art techniques learned by SEALs are a part of the Close Quarters Combat course that includes crucial moves from over 50 different types of martial arts. Some of the martial art techniques learned and used by Navy SEALs comes from Jujitsu, Ninjitsu, Kung Fu, Karate, Judo, Krav Maga, Muay Thai, Sylat Knife Techniques, Western Boxing, and much more. Since there is more than one form of martial arts hence it is known as mixed martial arts. The most common mixed martial art forms used by SEALs include Muay Thai, Brazilian Jujitsu, and Krav Maga, the latter is the martial arts technique adopted by Israeli Commandoes as well.
Most dangerous techniques:
Targeted blows to soft areas, eyes and throat. Vital organ attacks for disabling blows and critical strikes. Team based attacks.
In this the NFL player has the clear advantage. They are about 19% larger than their Naval counterparts. This brute force will play greatly to their favor. However, the Seals will be much more nimble in a fight and be better able to move.
This depends a great deal on the time of year of our little bout. In general the military have no off-season. They will have a greater level of physical conditioning overall and more stamina.NFL players are trained to perform a few tasks extraordinarily well, such as explosive bursts of directed energy. They will be stronger and faster than the SEALs.
While the Running Backs have a good technique to open the fight, the tackle, it is quickly lost in the first few seconds of combat. What most have to consider however, is that Running Backs are not the most lethal players on the field. Their job is best when they avoid getting hit. They need to avoid getting hit to break the line or to catch and run. These will help them in football, but not in combat. After they open the fight with the initial tackles their style would likely break down into a brawl. The SEALs would have the ability to attack opponents' weak areas and attack for disabling blows such as to vital organs or soft tissue. Add to this the SEALs have a great deal of actual martial arts training that would allow them to succeed in most brawls.
While the NFL players are trained and selected to be aggressive, they are still civilians and have not put a great deal of effort into actively thinking about killing someone. It is a very difficult thing to be prepared when the moment strikes to kill a human being, at least for the rational-minded. This weakness will likely provide a problem of hesitation the SEALs will not suffer. Add to this that the Running Back position is one which is not intended, as much as others, to attack the other player. They are meant to avoid combat and get points. They are able to take a hit better than most any other human on Earth. The SEALs on the other hand would likely not give a second thought on the matter of killing since they are not only trained and selected based on aggression, but psychologically trained for the act of killing people in the most efficient manner possible. If killing were an art form, these guys would be on the level of DaVinci. Considering mental toughness, their training is world famous for its degree of difficulty and severity, so the SEALs can obviously take a few hits themselves.
Now consider that in this battle there will be a great deal of gruesomeness from both sides. The SEALs are prepared to see their fellow members die, however the football players are unused to the sight of their own dead. This will cause some hesitation in the infant warriors.
Now we have to consider what happens when we don't consider these men on individual levels, but as a team. For this you need to examine how these men think. Running Backs are used to playing as part of a team, but not of a team of Running Backs. Most of their tactics revolve around themselves. The SEALs, however, are used to fighting as a team and would be able to plan attacks around the target using multiple SEALs to take down targets quickly and move on.
What team tactics I think would be employed would be that the Running Backs would go after one targeted SEAL and attempt to take him down individually. The SEAL's however, are used to working in teams and would seek to distract some while teaming up on individuals. This would reduce the numbers of NFL players while the SEAL's superior stamina would keep the quick running backs in chase. Eventually the NFL players would be whittled down by the force that is actually trained in combat and prepared for team-based warfare.
The SEALs have it. While the Running Backs have more expensive training and genetic dispositions toward physical prowess, they lack the training in lethality, mental conditioning and combat tactics necessary to beat the SEALs in what is essentially... their game. The SEALs are killers by trade and they would have little difficulty with complex maneuvers to attack weaknesses in the Running Backs and bring them down one by one in violent swarms of carnage and ferocity.
A much more even fight would be a battle against Linebackers. Their job is literally to hunt down and take out the offensive ball holders and some of the most powerful men alive. They average in size to about 6'2" 247 which is about 13% bigger than the Running Backs and 27% bigger than the SEAL. They are more aggressive and more lethal.
They still lack that all important combat training element, but their brute strength and size would make for a much more interesting match-up.
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