NFL Training Camp – both an end and a beginning in professional football. Much like Greenwich Mean Time, the Equator and the Continental Divide, NFL Training Camps mark a line a demarcation between preparation and execution at the organizational level.
Preparing for the NFL Draft
From a Player Personnel perspective this is the culmination of a year’s work of gathering new talent to maintain success or to build towards it for the future. NFL talent scouts began combing the country throughout the spring of 2011 in search of those college players worthy of consideration for the 2012 draft. Evaluations were submitted, crosschecks were ordered and the draft boards began to take shape.
There were practices to watch, games to attend, interviews to be conducted and bowl games to observe all throughout the college season. Afterwards were the College All-Star Games, the annual NFL Combine and individual workouts at Pro Days scheduled right up to the festivities in New York; Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Trent Richardson, . . .
NFL Free Agency commences
Free Agency commenced with opportunities for greener pastures, big bonuses and a chance to reshape careers. Negotiations ran rampant as sports agents worked diligently to get their players resigned or relocated with one of the thirty-two teams. Visits were set, dinner reservations made, and hours of question and answers exchanged to find the right fit. (think “The Peyton Manning Tour)
No tackles were made, not a touchdown scored. But you can bet that the media and fans were keeping close tabs of who was “winning and losing” throughout the process. Rosters began to bloat up to numbers commensurate with Training Camp needs, veterans were released, and rookie hopefuls were signed. All of this taking place throughout the year prior to the end of July.
Philosophies have changed, new directions have been taken, and even an ownership has changed hands. There are thirty-two teams undefeated and thirty-two without a win. And as GM’s and Head Coaches walked on to their Training Camp fields, they knew that this was the beginning of the end of the preparation for the beginning of the 2012 NFL Season.
Building an NFL organization
So much goes into the building of an NFL organization and today’s fans are sophisticated enough to understand you don’t just toss a ball out on week one and make your way to the Super Bowl. No, it both finishes and starts over six weeks in the middle of summer. It’s a bit surreal, the only time that all of your organization is gathered in the same place at the same time; front office, coaching staff, players, scouts, support and the like. Everyone, and I mean everyone, wants a peek at the latest version of the Cowboys, Steelers, Dolphins, Giants, or whatever team you root or work for.
Predictions are already being made, pundits are racking up the frequent flyer miles and nobody really knows how things are going to turn out. I guess that’s what makes NFL Training Camps so enticing towards the thought of a new season, with new players and new expectations.
So as you pass out of your own offseason mode and into the start of another NFL regular season, just keep in mind the uniqueness of the NFL Training Camp experience for all those involved and for some of you, be thankful that you’re undefeated now and hope that your scouts are paying attention for 2013 Draft. “You’re gonna need to start over!”