Monday, July 30, 2007

I Don't Know What You Did Last Summer

Surprise ending?

In the old days when football players reported, camp was actually a time to get in game shape. The players had offseason jobs, didn't make stupid-money and didn't spend all offseason working out. In my head I have visions of Sonny Jurgensen arriving at Carlisle tubby with a cigar in his mouth, ready for a tough-ass month and a soak in the jacuzzi. Feel the burn baby.

But now none of them work real second jobs and being in the NFL is a year-round job. Players are bitching all the time about how tough camp is and how silly preseason games are (or at least the coaches that play starters). Teams should trust them to stay in shape, blah blah.

And although Joe Gibbs was never Bear Bryant, it was a little disappointing that he agreed to let his players maintain their conditioning away from Redskins Park, which I wrote about here and here.

And confusing, because he said it was his fault there was not enough intensity in 2006 training camp and that 2007 was going to be like way harder.

I would think in this situation you want to control the exact conditioning of a player that you plan to send into a particularly strenuous endeavor, the penalty for being out of precise shape potentially being lingering or catastrophic injury. It's not really acceptable to me for a player to come to a tougher camp but because he did not get in the right shape gets hurt and the team and the player shrug shoulders and say, who knew.

If you are going to ask someone to do something you are not certain they can prepare for properly, you have to help them. That's not to say that the players can't keep themselves in shape, because they can. But they are keeping in them shape and the team should be sure they are staying in game shape.

Well when Sean Taylor (Miami, duh) and Shawn Springs (Arizona) took advantage of the policy and trained elsewhere then were early no-shows to mini-camp in May, coach was shocked shocked! I say. Sean had zero contact, none with the Redskins before showing up late to mini-camp in May and Shawn phoned in* that he'd be two weeks late because he was working to rehab himself. He finally showed up in June.

Today we learned from both the Washington Post and Washington Times that Brandon Lloyd had a hard 2006 and that he worked out, on his own mind you, in Arizona no less, six days a week and that he's eight pounds heavier. When you are done being impressed, wonder for a moment how best to distribute those eight pounds in a manner that would best help Brandon improve his route-running, avoid defenders and keep his helmet on and mouth shut. The 30 million dollar third receiver!

Clinton Portis and Santana Moss were either rehabbing injuries, dinged themselves in the offseason or both. Am I a cynic if I think a player nags up an injury, maybe to avoid working out a little? Wouldn't be the first time in the NFL. I seem to remember after torpedoeing Marty Schottenheimer that Steve Spurrier got the word and Bruce Smith basically got to sit out camp in 2002 and 2003 with a 'groin.'

I'll be interested how camp goes in light of Joe Gibbs' seemingly contradictory positions of less oversight on player offseason activities and increased physical and mental demands of training camp.

*Note: this is also the piece in which Clinton Portis is quoted in regard to Michael Vick as saying the following:

I don't know if he was fighting dogs or not, but it's his property, it's his dog. If that's what he wants to do, do it." He added that people should "mind their business,"...

Movie poster from here. Sean Taylor mugshot from here. Shawn Springs from here. Brandon Lloyd from Redskins homepage here. Clinton Portis from here. Don't you just love mashups?