It’s always a good feeling to be back in training camp.
This is my eighth season, so it’s always a surreal thing. You always get the same kind of feelings, whether it’s your rookie year, your third year or your eighth year. You get that same excitement, the same anxiety, the same thrill — just to be out there with your teammates.
It’s like the first day of school when you see all the guys, give them hugs, catch up and realize that there’s a big road ahead. We’ve got big goals, and it’s always fun to have them with people you enjoy being around.
These guys are like family to me. You spend so much time together and go on this extensive six-month journey. When you think back on the first day of camp, you think back and reflect as the season goes on how you build together. No matter what, when you go through football camp together, there’s a bonding that you probably can’t get at any other occupation.
When you’re waking up at 6:30 in the morning and you’re in meetings until 10 at night, you’re pounding heads, putting in the work that needs to be done during camp, it’s just non-stop. You’re in this competitive world and you just form a bond with teammates that you’ll probably never get in any other realm of life. That’s the special part of camp.
The not-so-special part can be the monotony. We joke and call it “Groundhog Day” — every day is literally the same. But it’s your job, and the way I look at it is to be as professional as possible. I know where I need to be at what time and I know I need to perform and study.
As camp goes on, you get more and more tired. Your brain starts to get exhausted and your body is definitely more fatigued, but everyone’s going through it together.
That’s what makes football an elite game. I don’t think spring training in baseball is like this and I don’t think the NBA has anything like we do. There’s no golfing sessions during training camp. You stay focused, and if you don’t, you’re not going to be around.
As we go through camp, I’ll remember more of the fun behind-the-scenes stories and experiences that I’ve shared with teammates in the past, and of course update you on any new memories we create away from the field. There’s probably a lot of stuff that I can’t publish in my blog on a national scale, but I think the funniest thing in camp — because you’re stuck in the monotony of football — is that everything is funny.
We always joke about it. Stuff in everyday life that you’d never laugh at in the offseason is suddenly hilarious. Everything is funny. Everything is entertaining. Everything seems appealing. In the middle of March, that same stuff won’t be funny, but for these few weeks in August, everything is. That’s the unique thing about camp — the mental state where you just want to laugh at everything.
During our down time, the offensive linemen play a game we call “Hypotheticals.” We’re all a pretty close-knit group and so we always make hypotheticals with each other and play games. It’s a pretty easy game to play. Take two equally terrible things and go around the group to see which one guys would rather do if ever presented with the choice in real life. It doesn’t sound like a huge source of entertainment, but when football is all we do for the next few weeks, it goes a long way toward breaking up the monotony.
That’s the fun thing. Camp is definitely strenuous, but the camaraderie is pretty special, and at the end of the day, you lean on each other to get through. The teams that have that the most are the ones that end up being successful when camp breaks.
That’s something we try to build here with the Falcons. If you look at the locker room, it’s a great one. The organization does a great job to put good people in here, and it definitely shows as camp goes on.
Read the Atlanta Falcons Training Camp Blog.
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