Twinkle Toes in the NFL

Who says ballet only belongs on a stage? Some football players are using classical dance to improve on the field.

Steve McLendon (right) doesn't wear a tutu, but the 310-pound New York Jets defensive tackle has been taking ballet classes on and off since 2009. He enrolled in his first class during his senior year at Troy University and credits ballet for helping him stay nimble and safeguard his body from wear and tear. "It keeps you injury-free — your ankles, keeps your feet strong, your toes strong; you get away from knee injuries," he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2013.

It may seem comical to think of a brawny, 6'4" NFL player lining up at the ballet bar, but it's no cakewalk. "It's harder than anything else I do," he said.

The notion that ballet can be helpful to NFL players isn't a new one. Hall of Famers Lynn Swann and Herschel Walker both famously took ballet classes decades ago.

More recently, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was filmed taking a ballet lesson (giggle-worthy!), while the Dallas Cowboys installed ballet bars outside the locker room to motivate players to stretch in a different way. No word on whether or not any of the Cowboys are skilled at pliés yet.

Photo: YouTube

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