NFL Training Camp- Then & Now

NFL Training Camp- Then & Now


It’s the night before the final cuts of the 1984 NFL training camp. (REAL TRAINING CAMP) Cleveland Browns TC started the weekend after July 4th and lasted for almost 2 months. It was like being stuck in the twilight zone!

I’ve been balling from the beginning, so I haven’t had an uneasy feeling about being cut. But tonight is a little different. I slept well after I finally fell asleep while half expecting a knock on the door. My roommate has been gone for a week, so I’m alone.

I wake up to sunshine and no knock. I pop up and run to the door to take a peak out. QUIET. It was almost spooky. I call home to tell Granny and then call my wife. I made it!

After the call, I sat for a while to let it all sink in.

We have a team meeting at 9:00 am. I take what has become my normal seat. Mike Pruitt, Boyce Green, Charles White and Johhny Davis are the other backs. Marty is talking, but I’m in amazement now because I’m on the team with guys I’ve watched on tv.

The room is really half empty, so Marty Schottenheimer’s voice almost echoes. But once we get on the field… Wait! Where are the lines of guys waiting to get reps? This is it?! What a realization of how special it is to be on the roster and in the NFL.

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up on the game and the games played that you forget the specialness of being in the league.

Seeing those empty seats and short lines provided an “Oh Snap” moment for me. Love what you do and appreciate the constant challenge that can make you a better person and player.

Well that was way back when…training camp was actually about training and competing. It was where more uncertainty loomed regarding final roster spots. It felt like guys had a real shot at competing for a spot on the roster and veteran players could battle for the job another player was drafted for.

No more real training…well it’s still training but not at the levels of before. We were battle tested before we got to another team.

The evolution of the game has taken away the grueling aspect of camp. Salary caps have made it where there is more concern regarding safety and getting guys to the season as opposed to truly developing the roster from top to bottom.

Yes development still happens while keeping an eye on how much exposure the top tier players get. In some situations, I noted the player was being coached down as opposed to coaching him up or truly developing him and making him better.

Yep… Training camp is long gone never to return. There may still be some sleepless nights, but none like 1984. What a blessing for the chance a lil ole’ 10th rounder out of East Carolina from Milledgeville got just being in a true training camp.

About the Author