bubba9497 Posted June 13, 2005 Share Posted June 13, 2005 More practice just part of the deal for NFL players By BOB MOLINARO, The Virginian-Pilot http://home.hamptonroads.com/stories/print.cfm?story=87709&ran=59187 It seems to come as a surprise to some pro football players that employment in the NFL has become a fulltime job. That means 12 months a year, or pretty close to it. With the proliferation of mandatory minicamps and "voluntary" team activities that many players consider effectively mandatory, more and more NFL working stiffs find themselves toiling at their craft during periods once considered the offseason. And many don’t like it. Every team, it seems, has players who decline to participate in the voluntary sessions or who openly complain about the increased regimens and speed of the drills. It’s just too much like football, they seem to be saying. In comments recently posted on the New York Jets’ Web site, Jets center Kevin Mawae groused that minicamps are just "another way for coaches to get more practice time out of players three months before the season even starts." To a point, the NFL Players Association tries to protect players from overzealous coaches. It monitors spring and summer sessions, looking to file complaints. That’s what happened last week after highlights of a Redskins’ nopads practice were posted on the team’s Web site. The league agreed with the Players Association that the drills were too physical. The Skins were found guilty of violating the rule forbidding "live contact drills between offensive and defensive linemen" in the offseason. As a result, the team won’t be permitted to hold Organized Team Activities, not even player meetings or conditioning sessions at Redskin Park, for three days beginning today. No big loss. Because on Friday, the team’s mandatory three-day minicamp starts. At all NFL minicamps, the workouts are more intense than they used to be, with coaches pushing harder, always looking for an edge. The Indianapolis Colts just wrapped up a fourweek summer school that coach Tony Dungy said will allow the coaching staff "to space things out and not cram so many things into training camp." Times have changed a lot since players used the offseason to work other jobs, to supplement their NFL income. There’s no denying that pro football is a dangerous occupation that can inflict lifelong disabilities. On the other hand, players are handsomely rewarded for a season that, even when you include August and the playoffs, lasts only six months. There’s a difference between acknowledging an NFL player’s rigorous working conditions and feeling sorry for him because he’s being asked to drill with his teammates when he could be on another deep-sea fishing expedition. With the money players are paid, Joe Sixpack naturally will side with owners and coaches who want their athletes thinking football year-round, even allowing for a relatively liberal vacation schedule. No question, football, especially as it’s fought out in the trenches, isn’t as much fun to practice as, say, basketball. And the disparity in the physical comfort level between baseball’s spring training and football’s August camps is like the difference between sunbathing and coal mining. But this is the business NFL players have chosen. It could be worse. For pro footballers across the pond, what we call soccer players, demands on an athlete’s time and talents are even greater. Liverpool, the famous English team, starts preseason training June 27, only 33 days after winning the Champions League, Europe’s biggest club competition. Liverpool will turn around and play its first meaningful game the second week of July. Meanwhile, the Patriots and Eagles, the final two NFL teams standing last season, will go six months between games. Plenty of time for a little extra practice. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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