It’s an old refrain from old folks: Back in my day, life wasn’t so easy. It’s a refrain that NFL veterans often tell their younger teammates at this time of year.
That’s particularly true for the players who have been in the league since before 2011, when the new Collective Bargaining Agreement put limits on practice time and the number of full-contact practices. The Eagles have five such players, and Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer talked to them about how much different training camp was in those days.
Eagles running back Darren Sproles played his first two seasons with the Chargers under coach Marty Schottenheimer, who was known for running some of the toughest training camps around — tougher than any NFL coach today runs. Schottenheimer would keep the players on the practice field as late as he wanted, until he was satisfied that they had worked hard enough.
“Back then we had real two-a-days and it didn’t matter the time,” Sproles said.
Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham, who has been with the team since 2010, said coach Doug Pederson pushes them hard in camp without pushing them so hard that they get injured, as coaches of the past used to do.
“If I’m going to give max effort every time, I need to know you’re going to take care of me down the down. And I think Doug does a good job of that,” Graham said. “You can still get a lot out of your team without the two practices. Sometimes I’d feel like, ‘Boy, you’d be so damn tired that after a while you’re going to hurt something.’”
Today’s younger players may think they’re tired after a hot summer practice, but they don’t know what those camps of old were like.