The NFL really is amazing. Seemingly without fail, every couple weeks a new incident crops up that opens the eyes of the fans to a facet of the NFL that they don't know very much about. I consider it my job, in part, to fill in the blanks when such a situation arises, and this has been the week of the conditioning test.
First, Ravens rookie nose tackle
Not every team has a conditioning test. In my seven NFL training camps, I believe I had to pass a test of physical condition at the start of camp three times and was exempted one or two other times because of my participation in the offseason program. Not every conditioning test is the same, mind you. The Patriots required their linemen to run two sets of 10 40-yard dashes in six seconds each. There was a 30 second break between each individual sprint and a three-minute rest period that broke up the two sets. It's considered a pretty tough test, but certainly doable if you have been working at it.
During my time in Buffalo, the big boys had to complete eight 68-yard dashes in 10 seconds, and though I don't recall the exact rest, I think it too was around 30 seconds between each sprint. This was not a terribly difficult test, so those who didn't pass it stuck out like a sore thumb.
The toughest tests for me personally were the two 300-yard shuttles that Haynesworth failed in Washington. Some teams, like those coached by
That's why Haynesworth's now-infamous bathroom break skews the test. (And why the Redskins reportedly
The unfortunate part for Haynesworth -- especially now that he
Not every team is such a stickler when it comes to conditioning testing, though. Take the Cody situation in Baltimore, which potentially showcases another common trait of camp conditioning tests: the slow clock on the re-test. You see, teams don't
The next day, however, when the re-test is given to just the player (or players) who failed, there is a strong tendency for those players to somehow miraculously find a way to pass the test. That's because the coaches can be, shall we say, liberal with the stopwatch. I'm not saying this is necessarily the case with Cody, but it was always funny to see guys pass the test the day after they failed it miserably when running with the full squad.
Besides, a guy like Cody wasn't drafted to run sprints anyway. He was brought in to clog up space in the middle and keep offensive linemen off the linebackers. The irony is that if a guy like Cody lost so much weight that he could pass the conditioning test with flying colors, it could have an adverse affect on the real job he was hired to do in the first place.
Good point. Rice was 40 when he had the season you mentioned for the Raiders in 2002.
I hadn't heard this before. Interesting. To answer your question, I am not bitter about my experience at all. I loved it, despite being released four times and traded once, which was tough. I wouldn't trade having my dream come true for the world. My dad is 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds, so I never really thought I would make the NFL. I always considered myself to be just an enormous football fan, like you guys, who was extremely fortunate to be blessed with some of the natural gifts it takes to play at that level. That may be why you detect a certain tone when I write about players that clearly don't respect, adore and appreciate the game and the opportunity like I feel I did.
So having a guy carry pads off of the practice field is horribly stupid, but you calling me a name in the first sentence of your e-mail is professional? I think you make some valid points, but perhaps I see it differently because I was actually part of that tradition and culture and found it to be both harmless and good-natured.
No, but I did have to do most of the driving during my training camp tour with
I see no shuffle. I think opening day against Carolina you will still see the same five guys at the same five spots as you have seen for the majority of the snaps the last three years.