NFL's Matt Willis has goal of being 'Ninja Warrior'

Fri, Jul 29
12:00
PM ET

Now that the NFL season is back, we wonder whether wide receiver Matt Willis doesn't want to be a ninja anymore.

For the past few months, the Denver Broncos receiver wanted to improve his quickness and agility while the NFL lockout was in place.

"I was looking for workouts to keep me in shape," said Willis, who is 6 feet, 190 pounds.

So he wanted to be a ninja warrior.

And the fourth-year receiver is one of the U.S. competitors on the TV show "American Ninja Warrior," which returns Sunday night on the G4 network.

Since the competition began in 1997, "Ninja Warrior" (or "Sasuke," as it's known in Japan) has seen only three competitors out of 2,600 successfully complete all four stages. None of them were American.

Last year, the second season of "American Ninja Warrior" concluded with four of the 10 Americans making it as far as the third stage, only to fall victim to the obstacle course. No competitor, American or otherwise, successfully achieved total victory last year.

This season, 10 Americans -- from a free runner to an artist to a salsa instructor -- will again use their skills in the hopes to become the first American to be crowned a true ninja warrior.

MMA fighter Jimmy Smith and Matt Iseman return as cohosts. Smith, who has competed on the course, said the TV show doesn't do justice to what happens in real life.

"It's extremely entertaining and fun to watch. You really pull for them," said Smith, who is primarly trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. "It's not a goofy game show. You're not rooting for them to fail. You want them to succeed."

Here's a video of Willis training: