Throughout my 15 years in the NFL working for Carolina Panthers and St. Louis Rams, I looked forward to training camp every year. Packing up my office, loading my car with clothes, bedding, pillows and making the road trip to a place I called home for the next 20 days. The challenge of evaluating 90 players fighting for 53 roster spots, watching the team bonding and togetherness that is built.  The rookies standing on chairs singing during dinner while being booed for their choice of song or because they just stunk, was good old fashion entertainment.  Not to mention the long personnel meetings that started early in the morning and sometimes went late in the evening after dinner.

When in Carolina, the only negative for me was the heat.  In Spartanburg, SC the heat index (combination of heat and humidity) was dangerously high.  I remember one training camp  were the heat index was so intense (106 -110) for multiple days, that GM Bill Polian and Head Coach Dom Capers changed the practices to avoid the heat of the day (early morning and mid evening), to ensure the players safety from the extreme weather.  When I joined the Rams in 2006 as the Vice President, I quickly found that the mid-west weather was no joke, just as hot and sticky with more humidity then the south.

I’m from the old school of thought that teams should get away to develop a bond that will carry them through the 20 plus week season. There is just something to be said about living together, working out daily, eating and focusing solely on your craft.  But I also understand there is no correlation on teams that stay home and those that go away bond faster and come together as a team more rapidly.

I had the opportunity to experience both types of training camps (home/away) and I believe for those teams who remain at home, despite living in a hotel, keep their families involved which is extremely important.  The excitement the fan base and community experiences helps build the momentum during preseason.  Some teams allow there veteran players to go home at night, others have mandatory lock-down and bed check at 11pm.

With training camp here, the preseason is close and the Pro Football HOF Game and its induction celebration is near.  I look forward to my first training camp in my home town of Seattle,WA covering the Seattle Seahawks as an NFL Analyst for Sports Radio 950 KJR.  Twitter: @SoftliSEA

Here’s a look at the number of NFL teams that stayed home for training camp since 2000:

 

YEAR NFL TEAMS WITH HOMETRAINING CAMPS (PCT.)   YEAR NFL TEAMS WITH HOMETRAINING CAMPS (PCT.)
2000 5 of 31 (16%) 2008 14 of 32 (44%)
2001 5 of 31 (16%) 2009 17 of 32 (53%)
2002 7 of 32 (22%) 2010 17 of 32 (53%)
2003 12 of 32 (38%) 2011 19 of 32 (59%)
2004 12 of 32 (38%) 2012 18 of 32 (56%)
2005 15 of 32 (47%) 2013 19 of 32 (59%)
2006 13 of 32 (41%) 2014 18 of 32 (56%)
2007 17 of 32 (53%) 2015 20 of 32 (62.5%)

 

The longest active NFL training camp tenures:

 

TEAM TRAINING CAMP CITY YEARS
Green Bay Packers Saint Norbert College De Pere, Wisconsin 58
Minnesota Vikings Minnesota State, Mankato Mankato, Minnesota 50
Pittsburgh Steelers Saint Vincent College Latrobe, Pennsylvania 50

(NFL camp data provided by NFL Media & NFL Communications)