Sunday, July 27, 2008

Eagle Training Camp 2008: Plan On Going?

Certainly by now, you must be aware that training camps have begun all around the NFL and we'll even get something resembling an actual NFL game on Saturday, August 2nd, when a bunch of guys wearing Colts and Redskins gear that you won't see on an opening day roster play in the Hall of Fame game.

Always love this time of year....the opening of training camp is pretty much the go-ahead to start planning for Fantasy Football season. The Eagles even held their first team practice on Friday. Doesn't get any better than the start of football season.

One thing you probably won't catch me doing unless I have absolutely nothing to do (almost never happens if you have a wife and kid), is making the trip to Eagles training camp. I have quite a few reasons for this stance. First and foremost, is what, if anything would I be going up there to do? I love to watch football, but not necessarily football practice. I can sort of live without those amateur scouts who believe that when they go to camp, they can see things that the actual NFL coaches cannot. Let me help you out; you're not going to learn a thing about Trevor Law watching him hit tackling dummies, I assure you.

There was a time, when NFL teams actually tried to accomplish things at a training camp. Camp was used by some players to get into shape and for coaches to evaluate and get ready for the season.

Training camp is now used as much for selling merchandise (the Eagles have a merchandise tent at Lehigh) and publicizing the start of the NFL season as it is used in deciding whether or not a late round draft pick like King Dunlap is good enough for the NFL (Not that Reid would play him if Dunlap did make the team. Afterall, Dunlap is a rookie and Reid rarely plays rookies). Even the autograph sessions are orderly affairs that are setup ahead of time at a predetermined time and date. You can't just go up to Stewart Bradley at camp and get his autograph; you have to go on the assigned day he is scheduled to sign in order to meet Bradley.

And yes, the players still bitch about camp. Even playful complaints have seedling of truth, just like Takeo Spikes did last year about not having 300 count toilet paper. But let's face it, training camp for a team like the Eagles only runs about 3 weeks, before the team breaks camp and they start doing some of the more significant work at the NovaCare center, away from annoying fans and press.

Can you imagine these guys having to deal with a Dick Vermeil training camp from circa 1976? Those didn't run on the order of weeks.....they ran as long as two months. From a 2007 Vince Papale interview:

"You know, Dick really pissed a bunch of guys off when he first came in. I mean, he ran that brutal training camp, just brutal. It was eight full weeks of double sessions."

8 weeks? Double sessions? Now THAT'S a camp I want to see.

Now, Andy Reid makes allowances for the vets over 30 to not participate in certain morning contact practice sessions.

So, just to review....I have a 3 week window to see the Eagles in camp, where, quite possibly, I won't see some of the older, marquee players on the team? So you could conceivably make the long trek to Lehigh only to see......AJ Feeley throwing to Jason Avant?

As hot as it is and with gas at $4/gallon, I'll pass.

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