Why I Hate Training Camp: A Personal Confession

| August 1st, 2012

I got into a bit of a tiff on Twitter the other day. I wouldn’t call it a scuffle. Certainly not a melee. It was what it was: a tiff. I’d had a few Narragansetts (which I drink because Robert Shaw drank them in Jaws) and a bit of New England’s finest sometimes frees me to say the silly things I’m thinking on that most social of social media. So I said it. I hate training camp and think it’s irrelevant.

First, let me explain. I do not begrudge any fan who finds pleasure in attending or following camp. We all love football and, more specifically, the Chicago Bears. From the end of each season we clamor for our boys to step back onto the football field and training camp is truly the first time they gather as a unit. And I especially don’t begrudge the families who enjoy these training camp sessions as an affordable opportunity to experience Bears football.

But I hate training camp. And there are many reasons.

  • Everything now gets overblown. Because the media knows fans are clamoring for every piece of information available they utilize Twitter to report every single piece of information. So fans now hear about every PRACTICE drop, PRACTICE fumble, PRACTICE missed block and draw inane conclusions from it. (Fans were already calling Shea McClellin a bust yesterday. After his fourth practice. Second in pads.)
  • This is an era where the NFL has gone completely top secret. Nobody shows anybody anything and everybody lies. To think an NFL franchise would display any plays/schemes of relevance in front of fans or media – all armed with devices capable of taking extensive video – seems naive. We are basing a majority of our opinions on work  most likely never to be seen in the light of game day.
  • It all gets wiped clean on Week One. All of it. If J’Marcus Webb beats out Chris Williams for the left tackle gig this summer and allows three sacks to Robert Mathis in Week One, he’s going to lose his job. If Shea McClellin struggles all summer and plants Andrew Luck on a big third down in Week One, he’s going to find himself in the rotation. The reps and installations are important. The results are essentially wiped clean once the games start.
  • Risk/Reward. You can’t win a Super Bowl in training camp. You can prepare your team well for the start of a season but even starting a season well, as we’ve seen in recent times, has no baring on your year-end success. What can you do in training camp? Watch it all go down in flames with a single turning of the wrong player’s knee

There’s more but I’ll stop there. It’s not that I don’t love the re-infusion of Bears football into my life. I do. It’s that I have a very low tolerance for the overreaction and over-analysis that accompanies what amounts to glorified practice sessions. Evan Rodriguez is a God. Shea McClellin stinks. Stephen Paea is going to be the next great defensive tackle. Blah blah blahbeddy blah.

Learn the systems. Entertain the crowds. Stay healthy. The rest I’ll leave to other folks.