If you have ever sat through a boring company meeting (most any meeting would qualify as boring), then you can relate to veterans of the NFL. These guys who have been on teams for a few years hate everything involved with training camp. Camp is basically a company meeting with the additional aspect of running into each other head on. Camps are boring, tedious, and micro-management at its worst. In short it sucks.
There has been many a veteran NFL player whose career was cut a bit short, not by injuries, but by too many training camps. There have to be guys who just could not stomach one more year of position meetings, film breakdown from the prior season, or just having to go out in the summer heat long before meaningful games were to be played.
Training camp is great for rookies. These young pups have no idea about the NFL or what it is going to take to make it in the league. They do need the extra time to get ready for a full NFL season. They need meetings and all the instruction they can get shouted at them. The rookies are trying to get to where the vets are currently. The first year players need training on what to do on the field and off of it. They are just a few years removed from high school remember. So they need all the help they can get.
I know there are vets who need training camp to make sure they are in top shape for the regular season. But there are some guys like Adrian Peterson who keep themselves in tip-top shape no matter what. So why bother them with extra practice? It is not like Peterson and guys at his level are going to get much playing time in the preseason anyway. Teams are not going to risk them getting hurt before games that matter.
The boredom that comes with NFL training camp results in pranks and other time killing activities. Rookies get awful haircuts from veterans because the vets need something to occupy their time…and they enjoy being mean to the rookie hot shots.
There should be some kind of limit to how many years NFL players must attend training camp. A player who lasts for more than six years on the same team should be automatically exempt from camp. What is the point? If the guy is still there after that length of time, I am pretty sure he is playing at a high level and is dedicated to his craft. No need for him to waste part of his summer listening to the same old ‘coach speak’ and running drills that he knows like the back of his hand.
I am sure NFL coaches think training camp is vital to their team’s success. And I am sure there is some bonding that goes on in camp. But I cannot see that it is necessary for every player. Real professionals keep themselves ready to play all year round. They know the playbook and their role. I am not saying these vets should miss weeks and weeks of practice, but they can afford to miss some of the most redundant aspects of pro football. Who knows, it could extend a few careers. Don’t look for that to happen anytime soon. Coaches, like most bosses, think meetings are pivotal to a team’s success. The next time a labor agreement is on the table, the NFL Players Union should try to get some camp exemptions for vets. The union does not get very much in most negotiations, so perhaps the NFL could throw them a bone on this one.