I love training camp. While the summer is winding down and the kids across America are getting stressed because it’s almost time to go back to school, football season is starting. It’s great seeing the players doing what they do best again. However, the opportunities to see our favorite players have been dwindled in recent history and closed off to only select members of the media.
I remember as a little guy when the Ravens first started and held open practices in the mornings and afternoons at McDaniel College. Back then, I couldn’t get a grasp of what was going on. I just loved being near the players, who appeared gargantuan in size, being near the coaches and being at practice with my dad, brother, uncle and grandfather. I used to love waiting after practice for the autograph sessions as my dad would carry me and my brother toward the front of the lines to get our favorite players’ autographs. As I got older, the value of an autograph dwindled for me, but my passion for attending practices did not.
Every year, my family has made the journey out to Westminster for the morning sessions. Hearing the coaches barking orders at the players, watching Ray Lewis leveling somebody, even though they are playing “thud” and watching guys like Orlando “Zeus” Brown “running” laps was pure entertainment for me. Now, it’s virtually a thing of the past as there are only three open practice sessions this year: August 4th at M&T Bank Stadium, August 12th at the Naval Academy and August 19th at Stevenson University.
While I will be attending all of these events, I wish there were more opportunities for the fans to watch the players practice. Some fans go to the practices because they can’t afford tickets, a PSL or can’t find time to make it to a game because of their work schedules. Watching training camp caused for more fan interaction with the players that gets lost sometimes during the regular season. Watching practices also allows fans to see what the players have been working on to improve their game even further. A greater appreciation for all of the hard work the players put in comes from this.
As a fan and former college football player, I can appreciate all of the hard work and dedication Ray Lewis has put in to make himself look more slender. However, I want to see him practice more than just three times. I want to see all the players putting on a show for the fans. I want to watch them go through the tough everyday grind that training camp is. Yes, it’s great we have these three opportunities, but it’s also interesting to watch the tam on a down day at practice to see how they’ll respond later in the week. Its like my one football coach used to say, “Week to week, you either get better or worse. There’s no in-between.” Watching the progress, or lack thereof, has always been an intriguing aspect of watching football for me and I hope there are more opportunities for me and the fans to witness training camp in the future.