Good article by Cub Buenning of Mile High Sports Daily. Evidently great minds think alike, because I was focusing on this very topic for The Football Educator podcast coming up this Friday. Those both directly involved and on the periphery of the game at times have trouble understanding the tremendous toll that an NFL season takes on both the bodies and minds of the players. The emotions of 14-2, 8-8, or 4-12 might be understandably different, but the wear and tear is ultimately the same. Give the season’s end two or three weeks and fans, media, and even some club personnel are chomping at the bit to get started all over again. The NFL can do all it wants to extend the marketing aspect of the sport well into the summer, but I do think it’s time (though it won’t happen anytime soon) to get a handle on offseason activities.
Two years ago coaches were up in arms about the loss of prep time in the summer due to the lockout. When the total time was reduced from 14 weeks down to 9, and subsequently OTA’s (Organized Team Activities) reduced from 14 days down to 10, you didn’t need a PA announcer to hear the cry of coaching staffs from San Diego to Buffalo. But both the perceived and real lack of offseason preparation showed little effect on the performance of the players.
Now two seasons removed from potential Pro Football Armageddon, NFL fans are trying themselves to recover from what felt like an eternity of Draft “over-coverage” that overlapped into MLB’s regular season, and the playoffs of both the NHL and NBA. From a business perspective, I’m doing my absolute best to try and understand the protracted philosophy of “year round” football. After all, they pay all those retired coaches and players over at NFL Network to do something.
But losing a player to an injury during OTA’s and thus altering the state of your roster before it even gets implemented on Day 1 of Training Camp, that’s maddening to a General Manager and certainly unnecessary to the health and well-being of the player. And looking at it purely from a business perspective, BAD for the bottom line. Wonder what new Executive VP of Football Operations – Troy Vincent thinks about this one?
The Football Educator
By Cub Buenning
Call me crazy, but I think we have reaching a tipping point with the National Football League and their year-round calendar.
I long for the days when May and June were devoid of football news.
I miss the time when you didn’t hear about your favorite NFL players until July at the very earliest.
Simply put, the NFL is too much in my face in the spring and early summer and it’s gotten to the point where I think it is actually hurting its own product.
Never mind the excessive media outpouring of information while the players are not playing the actual sport of football. They may be lifting weights or running around in shorts and ball caps while they are still three months out from any real practice of substance. The glutton in me still loves the idea that our beloved football is not far away. However, the realist in me thinks it needs to stop.
For a reference point, yesterday was exactly 100 days until the opening game of the NFL season and it was celebrated like a national holiday in many American sporting circles.
No, my worry is that there has become too much football for these guys and it is damaging the players on the field.
Consider the altered plight of “America’s Team,” the Dallas Cowboys.
This week marked the beginning of OTA’s (Organized Team Activity) around the league. Yesterday, before the season was even within three months of starting, before the team even made their annual pilgrimage to Oxnard, California to start another year of training camp, they were dealt a massive blow. They were handed some news that has the fan-base up in arms about the team’s realistic prospects for the upcoming season. This all coming in late May. Middle linebacker Sean Lee is done before the season even started.
During a seemingly “safe” drill where each side of the ball was working through the playbook, Lee slipped while being blocked and tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Season over. Cowboys’ fans are irate.
There was a time when Sean Lee very well may have been far away from the sport of football at this time of the year. He very well may have been getting out-of-shape and overweight like the NFL players did for years and years. Like those that preceded Lee, he could have been relaxing on a beach in Mexico or hitting his local links for a second round of golf in the day. He could have been counting down the days to the start of training camp where he would look to knock off the dust and a few pounds in preparation for the start of the pre-season.
That is all a memory now.