Monday, August 2, 2010

The Carnage Begins

If you're a fantasy football player, the beginning of NFL training camps throughout the country make you pay close attention to the news, not because training camps are so interesting, but because you want to see which players go down with the inevitable training camp injuries.

This year has been no different. We haven't even made it to the first pre-season game yet and already you have reports start receivers like DeSean Jackson and Percy Harvin being carted off the field, soon to be star running back Knowshon Moreno blowing a hamstring, and big named rookie Dez Bryant suffering the dreaded high ankle sprain on the second to last play of practice.

It's part of the game with a sport this violent. Guys will get hurt. More are going to get hurt too because when draft picks don't sign and players hold out, they come in behind and aren't up to speed with the rest of the players. Then they take a brutal shot and whammy, they're out for another three weeks.

But does the NFL pre-season really need to begin in late July? There was a time when players needed training camp to get back into playing shape. Today there is no real off-season in the NFL with all of the organized team activities, rookie mini-camps, and "voluntary" workout sessions. Most players come into camp ready to go. In fact, many teams have conditioning tests before camp even starts.

Sure, players get timing down and have more time to learn the play book, but is that more important than giving their bodies a rest before the onset of a brutal 16 game regular season? Ask any player and they'll tell you that they get tired from camp and they aren't really fresh for the regular season.

The reason we have such a long pre-season is one reason: money. Owners don't want to give up the earnings they can get from four meaningless pre-season games.

Okay, so that's not going to change. Why not have a one week training camp followed by the four games? Guys are preparing during the week just like they would during a regular season. They've had a week to shock their systems back into football mode and now have the four games to look forward to.

Better yet, open training camp at the normal date, but for rookies, new additions, and bubble players. That way they can get work in while the veterans can relax until mid August. You don't have to tell the Philadelphia coaches that DeSean Jackson is going to make the team. He doesn't need to run drills all day.

I'm a football fan! I want to see the best players doing their thing out there. I don't want to see an All-Pro lying dead on the field in August. I know these kind of things will happen because of the nature of football, but can't the NFL at least let players go into a season without feeling like they just finished one?

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