Clyde Emrich, pioneering NFL strength coach, dies at 90

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Clyde Emrich, an Olympic weightlifter who became the NFL’s first strength and conditioning coach when the Chicago Bears hired him 50 years ago, has died. He was 90.

The Bears announced his death Wednesday. They did not give a cause.

Emrich had been working with several Bears players such as Stan Jones, Doug Atkins and Ronnie Bull at a local YMCA when the Bears hired him in 1971. His initial contact with the team came prior to the 1963 championship season, when he met with founder and coach George Halas to discuss isometric resistance training. He worked in some capacity under every Bears coach from Halas to Matt Nagy and was known as “The Legend” around team headquarters.

A USA Weightlifting Hall of Famer, Emrich competed in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki during a 21-year career. In 1957, he became the world’s first man under 200 pounds to clean and jerk 400.

Emrich started lifting weights at age 15 in 1946, when he was 5-foot-6 and weighed just 110 pounds. Back then, he used homemade cans of sand and cement and cable-chest expanders.


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