Hawkeye football takes on Busch Gardens

The Hawkeyes fed giraffes and rode the park's Falcon's Fury ride.


Nick Rohlman

Iowa players ride the Falcon's Fury during a visit to Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida on Saturday, December 29, 2018.

Adam Hensley, Pregame Editor

TAMPA, Fla. – The Iowa football team traveled to Busch Gardens for a day in the park, feeding giraffes on a safari tour and taking on one of the park’s scariest rides, Falcon’s Fury.

Feeding the giraffes

Iowa football jumped into safari jeeps and headed out into one of the animal exhibits, which featured ostriches, zebras, and giraffes.

The park staff gave the players romaine lettuce, and they were able to hand feed giraffes.

“When we first got there, they showed us how to feed them. Once we ran out of food, someone tried to pet a giraffe, and it pulled back. It was weird,” defensive lineman Chauncey Golston said with a laugh.

Plenty of the players were a little

“I was nervous,” A.J. Epenesa said. “I’ve seen those videos where those giraffes starting swinging their heads at each other, and one of them looked at me a little funny because I didn’t have any food. I thought coming at us, so I backed up a bit.”

Epenesa, though, claimed to be the best with the giraffes, despite his nervousness.

Taking on the Falcon’s Fury

Busch Gardens is home to the Falcon’s Fury, a ride where participants strap into seats, get pulled to the top of a tower, rotate toward the ground, and then get dropped.



Half of the players could not ride due to their height (there was a height limit, believe it or not). But wide receivers Devonte Young, Brandon Smith, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, and running backs coach Derrick Foster took on the challenge.

“The worst part is sitting up there and facing down,” Smith said.

When asked if he’d rather go on the ride again or take a major hit from a defender on the football field, Smith’s answer came quickly.

“I’d take a big hit any day than get back on that,” he said.

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