A week or so ago, The Hubs received an invitation (and a + 1 – woo-hoo!) from Jim Caldwell, the new head coach of the Detroit Lions, to be his guest at a training camp session this year. And being the smart man he is, The Hubs took me, the old ball and chain.
Since we attended sans kids – training camp is hard enough for the players without having to hear a toddler whining and a baby crying from the sidelines, Scott and I technically deemed our afternoon getaway a date night of sorts...only earlier. And with whistles and tacking dummies.
Sure training camp was old hat for Scott: He had been there, done that for nearly seven seasons. But I had never attended a training camp session where I was a stone's throw away from the players, so I was there to glean whatever knowledge I could.
And what did I learn?
That everything we should do in the real world is null and void on the football field...
1. Share everything.
Share nothing. Especially your helmet, cleats, mouth guard, and, of course, your jock strap.
2. Don't hit people.
It's okay to hit people. Particularly members of the opposing team. If you encounter one of them, then, by all means, knock their block off.
3. Don't take things that aren't yours.
Do take things that aren't yours. On the field, it's every man for himself.
4. Take a nap every afternoon.
You can't take a nap every afternoon. In football, if you snooze, you lose.
5. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
No they're not. Only bananas and Gatorade are. (They keep you hydrated and help to prevent cramps.)
6. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
When you go onto the field, look for the traffic and get in the thick of things. And don't expect anyone to hold your hand. This is the gridiron. Not Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
7. Play nice.
No. Nice and rough is the only way to play.
8. It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game.
It's not about how you play the game. It's all about winning.
9. Wash your hands before you eat.
Don't worry about washing your hands. In fact, get them dirty. It's the name of the game.
10. It's okay to cry sometimes.
There's no crying in football.
And that's that.
As guests of Coach Caldwell's Scott and I were fortunate to actually be on the field with the players. We were literally right there. (To tell you the truth, I am thanking my lucky stars that I wasn't hit by a flying ball.) I took nearly 100 photos, so I have yet to go through them all, but here are a few highlights:
The entrance of the Detroit Lions' practice facility.
Scott with Lions Head Coach Jim Caldwell, an incredibly gracious host, who actually walked over to where we were standing to greet us when his players took a break from a drill.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford in action. (The quarterbacks always wear red in practice. Red signifies stop because hitting the quarterback is ALWAYS off limits.)
Defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh waiting his turn for a drill.
In the thick of things with the big boys, the offensive linemen, which was the position Scott used to play. The offensive linemen often go unnoticed despite being a major component of the game: They protect the ball carriers.
Scott and I about to head home after spending nearly two hours on the field.
Running back Reggie Bush being bombarded by a crush of sports reporters at the end of practice.
Thank you, Coach Caldwell, for an awesome afternoon!
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