Remember that time the United States Marines told their soldiers to just train on their own and show up a few weeks before they headed off to war?
Yeah, me neither.
Sure, football isn’t actually war. But preparing like it is is what makes you good at it. Units that expect victory train together from day one, crafting a unique program that only they are doing.
“No one is working harder than us!” becomes their mantra.
That’s what gives a unit an edge over an opponent. They take it farther than anyone else is willing to take it. They endure the brutal training regime and become an elite fighting force in the process.
That’s what the Broncos didn’t do last year and it showed on the field.
But clearly the NFLPA is attempting to move on from this process altogether. They believe it is an antiquated tradition that wastes time and leads to unnecessary injuries. The union sees that time better spent in cities like Miami and Scottsdale, where players can train with their buddies in a more comfortable environment.
Maybe someone can help me. Since when was football about what makes you comfortable?
Football is about sacrifice for a cause greater than yourself — your team. The more pain you endure, together, the greater your chance at glory, because misery bonds the afflicted, aligns your intent and syncs up your bodies for the same cause. You become bound to the same mission through a shared suffering and overcoming it gives you the confidence to take on any opponent and expect victory.
What happens when everyone trains in different parts of the country? You get a smattering of buff dudes who have had these crucial bonding moments with players on different teams, and who don’t know their own teammates from a can of paint.
Many players surely disagree with the “boycott,” but the pressure to fall in with the union is very real. And sadly, many folks at NFLPA headquarters have the traditions of football in their crosshairs. They see everything “the team” asks a player to do as an exploitation — a wrong that needs to be righted.
But what is that doing to the game of football? What is it doing to the thing that brought us all here in the first place?
Who is protecting that?
Dalton Risner, for one. Drew Lock, as well. And the rest of 20-plus players who have chosen the Denver Broncos over the shadowy NFLPA and showed up to the facility on Monday to train with their teammates, and with Loren Landow — the best in the business.
Because here is just a plain-and-simple fact of football: if you want to be special, you train with your teammates in the offseason. You push each other daily. You run. You lift. You sweat. All without the coaches around. That’s where you actually grow to trust each other.
One of the union’s main arguments is that phase one and phase two of the offseason program are unnecessary because there are no coaches around. Whoever crafted that talking point has never played football. You think that coaches need to be around to come together as a team?
You know what happens with 1:39 left on the clock and no timeouts, down six points? It ain’t coaching that brings you down that field for the go-ahead score. It’s phase one and phase two of the offseason program. It’s the connection, the unspoken bond that supersedes coaching and elevates 11 humans in a football moment.
You won’t get that in Miami. You won’t get that in Scottsdale.
You get it right here in Denver, sweating in the mile high sun. As a team.
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