There’s a presumption that, at each new level of football, everything gets faster, tougher, harder. For NFL players who played college football at Alabama, that may not be the case.
Ryan Anderson, a second-round pick in Washington, recently said that training is more trying in Tuscaloosa.
“Practices there are a little bit rougher than [they are] here,” Anderson (No. 22 in the photo) recently said, via SaturdayDownSouth.com. “We do a lot of banging around there, so it definitely prepared me physically and mentally for this grind that I’m doing now.”
It’s no surprise, given that the NFL reduced the number and intensity of practices in 2011 — and given that the NCAA has yet to put similar restrictions on contact in practice. Although the extra pounding at Alabama (which sometimes entails taking a pounding from former Alabama players who are trying to get back to the NFL) does indeed prepare a player for life at the next level, it also can prevent him from playing for pay for very long, if the damage done to the chassis in college turns the Jaguar into a jalopy.
That’s been one of the lingering criticisms of the Crimson Tide program under Nick Saban. Although Saban predictably has pushed back against the perception that “Roll Tide” is code for being rode hard and put away wet, Anderson’s effort to praise the program confirms the reality that playing at Alabama can be a double-edged sword.