What matters and what doesn't at training camp
Football is finally back, and every bit of news feels huge. But what actually matters in glorified practices?
Football is back. The Chiefs are back. Patrick Mahomes is BACK.
As I talked about in Part 1 and Part 2 of my series (I stand by the idea that 2 articles makes a series, and will die on this hill) on what Chiefs players have the most to lose/gain in the 2022 season, I love this time of year. It’s a time of high hopes and big dreams for teams and fans alike. Everyone is a contender, everyone will improve, and every plan will go perfectly.
It’s also a time of celebrating the return of a game we all love. While the NFL has done its best (and largely succeeded) at creating a year-round news cycle, the reality is we haven’t seen FOOTBALL in nearly six months. We finally get to talk/read/think about actually football that’s occurring on an actual field, rather than offseason rumors and speculation. It’s the sports fan’s equivalent of seeing an oasis in a desert, or starving man sitting down at a buffet stuffed with food.
A corollary consequence of us starving for real football news is that everything feels like it’s wildly important. Much like to the starving/parched man all things taste incredible and all water goes down smooth, for us, every single play in every single practice feels as though it tells us a story. Everything is a storyline. Every tweet is a reason to get psyched or despair.
Of course, not all calories are created equal. And not all water is clean. And much like this now-tortured analogy, a lot of the stuff we see and talk about in training camp is empty calories or stagnant, bacteria-infested water. Not everything is REALLY that important at training camp. It just feels that way.
But how can we tell the difference? Well, having done this job for over a decade now (and having been fooled one too many times by empty calories), I figured today (the first day of practice with pads) is as good a day as any to break things down into two categories; Things That (usually) Matter and Things That Don’t (usually) Matter. It’s not dispositive, and sometimes things surprise. But generally, training camp news will faithfully fall into those two categories.
Hopefully being able to sift through them makes following training camp even more fun as we dive into that buffet, and helps us know what to watch for as the fun starts. Let’s talk about some Things That Don’t Matter first, then we’ll get to the Things That Matter.