Forgive for a minute the “when I was your age…” thought, but times have changed. While NFL training camps once began with gritty, sweaty, painful sacrifice. These days, things seem more controlled, if not scripted. But what has really changed with teams and players reporting for duty?
Offseason? What Off-Season?
If you’re still feeling the slight blur of a recent Super Bowl boat parade, you are not alone. As crazy, celebrated, and memorable 2020 was, 2021 was more of the same. Coming headstrong out of COVID 2020, finding your favorite team right back in the 2021 playoffs. Unlike 2003, where a Super Bowl hangover hung over the franchise like a funeral. Last season fell just short of defending Super Bowl status.
The 2022 squad of Pillaging Pirates are poised to make another serious run at Lombardi greatness. Players all checked into camp yesterday and today to start the grind of NFL training camp. The difference these days is that players will still be pushed to their limits. Only thanks to the 2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement, the organizations will be forced to use a little common sense. Where once coaches couldn’t wait to get players into full pads and “knock the rust off”. Now, there are set days for shorts, shells, and strength and conditioning. Where once the training room was immediately filled with bumps, bruises, concussions and battle wounds. In 2022, these first days of camp see it filled with strains, pulls, and continued rehabilitation.
Some Things Will Never Change
While the beginning of camp takes a more eased in approach. It is still the start of everything. There are thirty-two undefeated teams. All vying for historical relevance. Each following a similar, yet unique approach to the upcoming grind of the NFL season. All different, yet similar. All with one thing in common. To take that next step.
No matter where your favorite team finished the 2021 season, 2022 has started. Division cellar dwellers look to climb out of oblivion. Conference runners-up want to get to that summit. Relevant teams want to be more. Irrelevant teams seek relevance. No matter what they did last season. This is the new season. One play at a time. One day at a time. Step-by-step, there is no turning back. The work put in during July will allow titles to be sought in January. The commitment players and coaches sacrifice today, will be the storylines for the 2022 postseason. It all begins today.
Maybe things really haven’t changed all that much. Maybe that’s a great thing. If it ain’t broke….
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