June 23, 2008

Those Were The Days...

"But a longer official offseason is not the path to success. A major difference between now and 1987 is players predominately worked out individually, especially when it came to running and speed drills. They felt their solo workouts were more beneficial. They worked out because they wanted to, not because they had to...I'd still take 1987. The offseason evolution has gone a few steps too far."

- Rod Woodson
Yep, the "good ol' days." You know, those days when the players actually had time off in the OFFseason. Or so claims Señor Rod Woodson...

Now, as I'm a relatively young buck myself, I can't really vouch for whether things have changed so drastically since 1987. My biggest concern in '87 was whether to pack my lunch in my Thundercats lunch box or my Smurfs lunchbox (Thundercats always won). And I'm not so sure 1987 is really so long ago that it can be classified as "the good ol' days." But since Rod Woodson said it, I'll roll with it.

Either way, Rod sure remembers those days. AND the supposed "free time" that came with them.

In doing so he raises an interesting question - is the current offseason training schedule too much? Is it really necessary to have Mini-Camp/OTAs, Training Camp, and at least four preseason games (five if you're "special")? Is this too restrictive on the players personal lives? Is this too much of a strain on their finely tuned athletic machines bodies?

Well I don't have definitive answers to all these questions. I just write a blog. But I can speak from the perspective of someone who has no time of his own.

And frankly, it sucks.

I'll spare you the mundane details of my 9AM-9PM, 7-day-a-week life, but in the players' case, they are physically exerting themselves basically non stop from April to January (sometimes February if they're real lucky). So is it just a coincidence that we're hearing more and more about injuries as the years pass? I'll leave that one open for you.

On the other hand, in my experience, maintaining a higher level of efficiency is much easier when I've been doing it for a significant period of time. I've gotten used to my schedule, much as I imagine the players have gotten used to theirs. And look, these guys aren't exactly getting minimum wage for their "suffering." Make no mistake, we know how well paid they are. So is it really too much?

I'm not really convinced one way or another. Persuade me, friends. Do you think the current offseason schedule pushes the envelope?

Oh yeah, and obviously Rod wasn't fully aware of the Steelers OTA activities when he made the following statement -
"There's a misconception out there that OTAs are a picnic; that we're out there playing around with coloring books."
Well no, Rod. Not coloring books. Bowling balls, though.

Definition of "Offseason" Has Changed Quite A Bit [NFL.com]


Anonymous said...

i think that in the grand scheme of all jobs, theirs isn't too bad. sure, they may work hard, but they still get more time off than most jobs. i don't recall any people in my neighborhood growing up having multiple months off from their jobs. and theirs is not the only occupation out there that takes a toll on the body.

they can easily (with common sense) retire a multi-millionaire after their "career" is over - most likely in their 30s. the lowest paid players still make many times more than the average american worker makes.

most importantly, they're doing what they love. not everybody has that luxury.

i think players have little room to complain when they're. . . making a lot of money to do something they love with more time off than most people and then to be able to retire while they're still relatively young with more money than most make in a lifetime.

if a player wants to complain because he'd rather work just 5 months a year instead of 9 or 10, so be it.

domski43 said...

Personally, I like the idea of OTAs, so the players get a chance to work together and build team camaraderie. No matter how much individuals work out in the offseason, it comes down to how well the entire team plays collectively.

Like ANON said these guys make ridiculous amounts of money, while playing the game they supposedly love. I feel that if they really care about their team, they should show up to every voluntary/mandatory practice (unless there is an emergency). I applaud the players that get together and work out even when the coaches are not around.

As far as the preseason, I wish it would get cut back @ least one game.

I'm getting impatient, lets get this season started!!

marc said...

I agree that the OTAs should not be bitched about, they are getting paid tons of money to play, they are getting paid for a years service and OTAs are part of waht they get paid for. If I had the talent to play football I'd play for 100k (and insurance in case i get busted up) The OTAs also act to keep the player from getting in trouble, that's another week that they don't have to be worried about.
As for Woodson, bitching about no time, the players only have to work for a few years of their lives, they have the rest of their lives to relax.

tobiathan, knowitall-man said...

Personally i think the over-emphasis on year-round workouts has led to the profusion of injuries in the last five years or so. As a teenager in the '80's i remember it being extremely rare and unusual for a player to miss more than a game or two. Now guys miss half or more of a season on a regular basis.

In reality it might be a combination of increased off-season workload and guys putting a higher premium on their physical health. Players today(especially "stars" are a lot more likely to sit out with an injury "to heaol 100%" than the old-timers like Bruce Matthews or Mike Webster. However: Matthews stayed healthy for nearly twenty seasons and still looks great while poor Mike Webster died an unforunate early death in the '90's. Several of the "old-school" have passed on early, perhaps in part due to steroid use prior to the deeper medical understanding we have now and partly due to a different, much more physical style of play.

Although we do see MORE injuries these days we tend to see fewer CATASTROPHIC injuries than i seem to remember. Fewer Bo Jacksons and Mike Utts and more T.O.s and Fred Taylor's. So maybe it's a product of ongoing physical training that comes from more year-round style OTAs etc.

Plus, i tend to agree on the team-building aspect. I know in my military days the elite airborne units i served in did more in the way of what they called "integrated force training" which was little more than cookouts and flag-football and various comraderie-building activities coupled with constant group physical training. I think the core of this concept has been transferred to the NFL in the last decade. It is most likely the best explanation for the high skill-level these guys play at. NFL-like complexity would be impossible without highly familiarized and trained teams.

In conclusioni have to agree that these players DO give more time and effort to the game, but the game pays better than ever and is (*usually*) more competitive than ever. A fair trade off i think.

My two cents. Couter-positions girls? Boys? In-betweens? Crossovers? We're inclusive here at OFTOT :-)

tecmo said...

These guys need to train as much as possible. I liken to the Braylon Edwards commercial from this past season (yeah, I like Edwards but hate the Browns...sue me), where he says:

"They make us go about 8 months, not to mention those other 4 where you don't want to fall behind Pro Bowl guys."


Thing is, most players are working out by themselves when not with the team workouts (at least the Pro Bowlers). The players have gotten so good that they can't afford (literally and figuratively) to sit back and have time to themself. Taking those 4 months to yourself would cost you contract dollars in the long term.

They're still overpaid guys playing a game for money, but in their own community, they should be working out as much as possible.