INSIDE SLANTS ON THE PROGRAM
Been There, Done
Monday, August 7, 2006
By Kevin Monroe
Players pay a heavy price to
[Editor's note: This article marks the debut of former East
Carolina star and NFL player Kevin Monroe as a Bonesville.net
columnist. When the Pirates meet Navy on Sept. 2, he will author
the first in a season-long series of Saturday morning game day
breakdowns. Drawing on his unique experiences as a player and
his inside perspective on the ECU football program, Monroe will
also contribute his "Been There, Done That" view on special
topics from time to time.]
All Rights Reserved.
Football camp in August is not only necessary,
but vital to a team’s success for the upcoming season... Or is it?
It depends on your perspective.
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The response you will get if you ask a
football coach to categorize in one word the importance of August drills
will be an emphatic "critical," "essential" or "fundamental."
But the players see things just a bit
differently. Having experienced seven football camps in my career (five with
East Carolina, one each with the Carolina Panthers and NFL Europe), I came
to the conclusion that players just really dread summer camp.
Football and August aren’t compatible —
90-degree heat mixed with super-thick humidity isn't a recipe for an
exhilarating outdoor experience. Combine the unpleasant weather with the
number of practices that have to be crammed in one month and football camp
is very similar to military boot camp.
At East Carolina, we only had two weeks of
summer practice before school started — versus five weeks of pre-season
practice in the NFL.
In order to get enough practices in, we had
three practices per day. The following is a look at what a typical summer
practice day schedule was like for us at ECU:
6:30 a.m. — Wake up.
7:00 a.m. — Breakfast.
8:30 a.m. — Dressed and on
the field for first practice. Session consisted of individual position
drills and special teams work.
10:00 a.m. — Meetings with
your position coach.
11:00 a.m. — Dressed and
on the field for second practice. Session consisted of 7-on-7 passing
drills and offensive line and defensive line drills.
12:45 p.m. — Lunch.
3:30 p.m. — Dressed and on
the field for practice No. 3. Session consisted of full team, full pads
4:45 p.m. — After practice
5:30 p.m. — Meetings with
your position coach.
7:30 p.m. — Dinner.
The repetition of this
schedule for weeks is enough to wear heavily on any athlete. I would go to
sleep most nights with my entire body aching.
The amount of water weight you
can lose in one day is astonishing. I lost as much as 7 pounds in a day's
worth of summer practice, and I have seen teammates lose as much as 11-15
pounds in a day. It is not unusual for that type of weight loss mixed with
intense heat and extreme exercise to leave some guys with heat exhaustion
and full body cramping.
In the NFL, camp is not quite
as intense, but it’s twice as long. Imagine being on the same two-a-day
practice schedule for five weeks. Just thinking about it will put you in a
state of depression.
Whenever you hear of a
long-time NFL star contemplating retirement, it’s always in the off-season.
During the season they are playing in games and doing what they love, but in
the off-season, all they have to look forward to is summer camp. Those
thoughts are enough to make retirement seem like not such a bad option.
Think about the number of “day
to day” injuries you see during camp. Most of the time those are real
injuries, but they are the same types of bumps and bruises that players play
with all season long. In camp, however, it’s a way for players to miss a few
days of practice.
Don’t get me wrong. NFL
athletes are just playing a game for a living and get paid a lot of money
for doing so, but their work day can be a tad tougher than my day at the
office sitting behind my desk.
The next time you leave your
office to go to lunch and find yourself complaining about the intense heat
you experience in your car for two minutes until the air condition gets
going, ponder the Pirates on the field in full pads and what they must be
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