Had there been conditioning tests 30 or 40 years ago, would Bill Bates, Don Meredith, Walt Garrison or Charlie Waters have failed? Back in the day, the National Football League training camp was more like a combat zone for athletes. Some teams began training for the regular season, which started in mid-September, in the middle of the summer. Two months of intense, physical practice on the field, to get into shape and prepare for the regular season. Practice sessions were held in the heat of the day, under grueling circumstances, and hard core strength conditioning drills. Many of these players took home $60,000 – $80,000 per year back in the ‘70’s, so a second job was sometimes needed to pay the bills. The players would come in out of shape and overweight. So, what are the excuses for Felix Jones, Andre Holmes, and Brodney Pool for failing their conditioning tests on day one of camp?
The former Dallas Cowboys mentioned above would have most likely failed their tests on day one, but as was stated, money was different and they were not expected to train year round. Training camp for them was the time to get into game shape. The players today have access to facilities year round and can take advantage of staying active and physically ready. There’s also the big known fact that they make a great deal more in salary than did their predecessors. The lowest paid Cowboy makes $465,000 per year. What’s your excuse Jones, Holmes, and Pool?
Training camp today is more like a stay at the Four Seasons Hotel. Sure the Cowboys put in some practice time, but much of it is without pads and for a couple of hours per day. They watch film, discuss playbooks with their coaching staff, work out in the weight room, and sign autographs for the fans who show up. In the days of Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi, the players spent more time on the field and in the weight room than fraternizing with the fans. It’s obvious that there are different expectations today, but there is absolutely no excuse for not being prepared on day one.
Jones is the back up to DeMarco Murray. Has he conceded the running back position without a fight? Nearly every position going into a new season is up for grabs; especially when you have solid athletes vying for the coveted spot. Pool is listed as one of several to watch at safety. He’s young, healthy, and strong, so what gives? Holmes could potentially step in at that question mark #3 wide receiver slot. If you know you have some fierce competition at your position, why do you not prepare? These are serious questions that we need answered. The punishment is no practice, basically. Now is that really a punishment? They get free room and board at the Four Seasons, a per diem each day, and who knows what other perks. If the coaches would come down on these guys a bit harsher, we wouldn’t be seeing such lackadaisical attitudes.
I would venture to guess that Bates, Meredith, Garrison, and Waters would have passed their conditioning tests had there been one. Those guys were committed and loyal where players today show little of that same mentality. Sure they love to play football, most have played all their lives. It still leaves a bit of a bad impression that three seemingly young, capable, very-well-paid Cowboys were not prepared to run two sets of 10, 60-yard sprints…in less than 8 seconds. Head Coach Jason Garrett was annoyed and sent them to remedial training until they could pass the test again. Lucky for them, they passed and have been cleared to start practice on Friday. Inexcusable.
I’m very disappointed with myself for getting here and not being ready, I’ve learned my lesson with that. Now I’ve got to just get out there and catch up. I’m behind but I just have to keep working and hopefully get back in the mix. — Andre Holmes
These players are paid very, very well to do a job. There’s zero excuse for not being ready.