NFL, for the men

My recent focus has been women, so I’m turning the limelight over to the men.

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, an interesting article got my attention “Who Forgot to Turn Off the NFL?” I have a difficult time paying homage to athletes with attitude who make a lot of money. So I perused the paragraphs, searching for ammunition to bolster my opinion. The subtitle read “As Football Booms, Once-Sleepy Training Camps Become Stages for Grudges, Boasts, PR Stunts and Psychodramas.” Aha! I thought. Here’s fodder for me to chew on.

The article opens with remarks by Dick Vermeil, former NFL coach,  “Sometimes in your effort to make the team better, you bring in players who bring a lot of attention to themselves,…These distractions are an irritation.” The article goes on to list some of the “sideshows.” Cincinnati’s camera-hogging wide receiver Terrel Owens and media magnet Chad Ochocinco are teaming up as “Hot Summer Couples!” Washington’s defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth has failed to pass the Redskin’s fitness test. Might it have anything to do with the fact that he opted out of the team’s off-season training program? Patriot’s quarterback Tom Brady hasn’t yet recommitted, once this final year in his 6-year contract expires. Ed Reed, Baltimore Ravens safety, grumbles that he’s not able to quickly access game film from the team. Minnesota Viking quarterback Brett Favree still “sits on the fence” about retiring (for the third consecutive year). Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steeler’s quarterback, returned to camp before serving “a multigame league-issued suspension after an incident at a Georgia nightclub.”

NFL Network analyst and former Steeler defensive back and Hall of Famer, Rod Woodson describes current league athletes as “mouthier…and less beholden to the idea that all team business should be handled in the locker room. ‘Today’s players seem like they have an agenda every time they speak to the media,’…” Vermeil contends that “the NFL’s summer landscape has become increasingly loony.” even before the training camps commenced. A contributing factor might be the NFL’s increased popularity. According to Harris Interactive, pro football “has risen to a 35% favorable rating among American adults in 2009, a 46% increase since 1985.” In the past decade it’s shown an average 3.7% increase in regular season TV ratings, while three other major U.S. pro sports leagues saw an average 35% drop in ratings.

“The appetite for all things NFL was apparent Friday in Westminster, Md., when 11,506 attended the Ravens’ first full-squad practice, the largest turnout for a nonscrimmage practice in team history. When the big-talking Jets arrived at their camp site in Cortland, N.Y., on Sunday, 1,500 fans lined the street to welcome them.” Woodson seems perplexed that the league is in the news even when nothing’s going on.

Patriot’s longtime coach, Bill Belichick seems to suggest that present day players are being coddled. ” ‘Compared to when I came into the league, there is no training camp,…in 1975, we started camp July 5 and our first regular-season game was Sept. 21. It was forever; it was 2 1/2 months. So has training camp changed? (The players) have no idea.’ 

 The article ventures to add that training camps in earlier times were “far more likely to induce yawning.” The big news in 1990 from the Vikings camp was how to get more touches for running back Herschel Walker, and that 5 players from the Chicago Bears missed their camp startup. The San Fransisco Chronicle reported one day that phone service in the 49ers dorm was temporarily disrupted.

Comparing the hoopla surrounding NFL training camps today, former NFL coach Jerry Glanville claims “that training camps have always been crazy. The only real difference is the impression itself. ‘It’s just covered better…Nothing that’s going on hasn’t happened before 100 times.’ ” He remembers when the Houston Oilers required players to “complete a mile run in six minutes in order to practice. But the team’s star running back, Earl Campbell, couldn’t do it. The team’s coach at the time, Bum Phillips, came up with a solution, Mr. Glanville said: ‘If it’s 4th-and-a-mile, I won’t give him the ball.’ ”

Have the fans unknowingly created modern-day NFL Frankensteins who lay claim to all they see? Or are we unfairly scrutinizing every detail of their lives in an attempt to know them better? Do the players call attention to themselves, or do the fans put the spotlight on the players with unrelenting adulation? Maybe there’s enough guilt to go around.

what do you think?…hugmamma

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