Coaches decided everything behind closed doors. The most significant decisions, moments, and even fights occur when no one is watching. These three things are what makes training camp so exciting. The unpredictability gives fans the first glimpse at the new players, judge the rookie class, and blindly cheer for guys who are past their prime.
Fans attend training camps to witness this experience themselves. In addition, they gain more access to players by asking for autographs while making small talk with their heroes. However, there is still a lot more that happens off the field fans cannot experience. They wish to be flys on the wall during team meetings and film sessions, don’t we all?
HBO allowed fans to go behind the scenes of the Dallas Cowboys training camp to film the annual mini-series, Hard Knox. Cameras follow players throughout their daily routines at the facilities, including on-the-field practices and film breakdowns. The show allows the audience to see what the casual NFL fan does not in a single tv show.
Fans watch players grind through weeks to earn a spot on the final roster from the comfort of their own homes. Then, they watch the drama on and off the field unfold on their screen. Then, This year, NFL fans, specifically Cowboys, sit down to watch an hour-long epic based on a few practices and exhibition games.
I plan my Tuesdays around it; HBO puts on quite the show.
However, it seems like the same teams take turns allowing more media access into their facilities. Hard Knocks has yet to appear in Lambeau. I do not remember a season of Hard Knocks featuring the Detroit Lions, even with their consistency at finishing inside the top five draft spots every year. Those teams deserve their time, but one team would have been the perfect cast for the advertised “biggest season ever.”
Hard Knocks missed a golden opportunity choosing the Cowboys over the Patriots for this season’s show; The New England Patriots failed to meet the requirements over their double dynasty in two decades. First, Brady and Gronk left town. Then, Julian Edelman stepped away from the game at the top of the offseason. New England has fallen.
I ended my night watching the first episode of the season. My eyes stayed open for the next 48 minutes. If you haven’t seen it or heard of it, watch it now. Jerry Jones eats a McGriddle on a conference call;
The New England Patriots have so many different storylines developing around their camp. The elephant in the room refuses to be addressed; Cam will most likely get the job. Surprisingly, Nelson Agholor and Jakobi Meyers have impressed coaches, along with a few fans. Also, the defense got a tune-up during the offseason. Cam Newton and Mac Jones hog the headlines with their ongoing battle for QB1.
Football aside, the Patriots are one of the most hated teams across the US. Success creates enemies, but this team does not have a villain. Instead, personality flows through the entire locker room. Cam Newton, Devin McCourty, David Andrews, Trent Brown, and so many more I could fill pages listing. Even Scrooge evolved into a decent human.
I have been honored to attend a few training camps this year. The different amount of drills and stations glues my eyes to the field. Unfortunately, many fans are not able to experience that opportunity. The Cowboys hold camp in Oxnard, CA!
Patriots football has been must-watch television for over twenty years. It’s time for fans to take a deeper dive into the operations at Gillette.