Football season is officially here.

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 29, 2005

With the start of preseason camps across the country so, too, do the epic two-a-days that most players dread.

But that’s tradition, right?

Well some coaches in the National Football League are breaking from tradition.

Email newsletter signup

Atlanta Falcons coach Jim Mora said that he would rather have a fresh player in the playoffs than one that is burned out from two-a-days in July or August.

That makes sense, but to old-school coaches and players it seems like the league has grown soft.

Not so.

I remember covering the Atlanta Falcons as a writer during the Jerry Glanville era. Dieon &uot;Primetime&uot; Sanders was the man who everyone came to see and each day it was like a party on the practice field. There was more laughter at the Suwanee, Ga., practice facility than at the comedy club.

Sure it made for some fun practices, but the Falcons were always considered also-rans across the league. They were never considered contenders.

I’ve also been subjected to Camp Coughlin, which were two-a-days of pure hell for players while Tom Coughlin was coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Coughlin’s camp made six weeks of basic training for the Marines seem like a vacation.

Couglin’s two-a-days consisted of thud drills in the morning for about two and half hours. Then break for lunch, film study and classroom time. Then around 4:30 in the afternoon, the guys were back at it for a couple more hours.

And with the camp being right off the banks of the St. Johns River, you have no idea how welcome those summer downpours were.

But Coughlin quickly made that expansion franchise a contender.

Are two-a-days inhumane?

Yes and no.

Two-a-days aren’t a necessary evil anymore in the NFL because of minicamps being held right after draft weekend and then there are minicamps held in about a month before camp opens. The players understand that the NFL is a business first and foremost, so being in the best possible shape coming into camp is a necessity.

On the flip side, two-a-days are certainly necessary in the high school game.

Fort Dale Academy coach James &uot;Speed&uot; Sampley will carry on with two-a-days starting Thursday.

The Eagles will get their passing game workouts done in the morning session and then work on the run game and defense in the afternoon.

Two-a-days are a necessary evil in high schools because most players come back from summer break out of shape. They are no where near football shape, so almost an entire week is wasted on getting the kids in shape and re-teaching them the fundamentals of the game.

That’s just the high school way.

But that's not how it has to be.

More kids these days are spending more of their time eating at fast-food joints and spending mind-numbing hours in front of a TV playing Playstation.

Some of us didn’t have that luxary when we were growing up. Believe me, Atari just didn’t cut for me in the 80s. You could play Pong just so long before you lost your mind or thought you were going cross-eyed.

So in order to work off those Big Macs and supersized French fries, two-a-days are necessary to get that offensive lineman or tailback at a workable weight where he doesn’t have a heart attack on the field.

Sure coaches ask their athletes to attend a certain number of workout sessions during the summer, but that’s just an hour or two so many times. Then it’s back to the Playstation with another Whopper tucked under their arm.

Football is an evolving sport as we all know. We’ve seen the wishbone offense come and go. The West Coast offense will eventually lose its luster to some other high-octane offense.

In the NFL, players have learned that they are in a business where their bodies have to be in tip-top shape to keep their jobs.

You are seeing that thought process now with college athletes, and even in some high schools across the country.

Until young athletes learn that by staying in top shape during the summer will only help them in the long run, then two-a-days will live on forever.

Kevin Taylor is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. E-mail him at or call (334) 383-9203 ext. 122.