Now that the first week of training camp is underway for all NFL teams, players are busy getting into their routines – with varying physical demands. The camp experience is quite different when compared to yesterday, when veteran players poured a ton of blood, sweat and tears into multiple practices per day, sessions better known as the dreaded two-a-days.
Now, the new CBA (collective bargaining agreement) mandates that the first day of training camp be structured roughly the same for everyone. Mandatory team and position meetings, plus physical exams, unfold. Organized on-field activities apart from running and conditioning, however, are prohbitied.
All squads have similar practice plan blueprints with periods like individual, team, seven-on-seven, nine-on-seven, special teams, one-on-one, short yardage and goal line drills. But the new CBA also emphasizes major restrictions on contact with full gear (helmets, shoulder pads, and any other pads that the team decides are appropriate) – in fact, it is not allowed until day four of training camp. The CBA states that teams are not allowed to practice players more than four hours per day, and are limited to one padded practice per day that cannot be longer than three hours. Most teams have incorporated a walkthrough (shorts and jerseys) teaching session in the morning hours, allowing players to have a break before the evening padded practices that includes more meetings, lifting sessions and lunch. Finally, during the regular season, all organizations are limited to 14 padded practices. Eleven of those sessions must be held during the first 11 weeks of the season, with the remaining three to be held in the last six weeks of the regular campaign.
Upon reviewing various sections of the CBA document, I learned that all NFL teams must record (video) on-field activities for all training camps sessions and maintain a copy of the footage until 30 days after the start of the first regular-season game. The main reason for the storage of video: the NFLPA has the right to view all footage if a player complaint is filed alleging a violation of the CBA article in question.
On another front, if I had a dollar for every time somebody asked me if the players get paid during training camp and the preseason, my bank account would be fat. The answer is a resounding “yes.” The union wouldn’t allow anything to the contrary.
According to information provided by NFLPA:
First-year player will receive “per diem” payments, commencing with the first day of Preseason Training Camp and ending one week prior to the Club’s first regular season game, at the following weekly rates for the respective League Years: $850 (201 1-12 League Years), $925 (201 3-14 League Years), $1,000 (20 1 5-16 League Years), $1,075 (201 7-18 League Years), $ 1,150 (201 9-20 League Years).
Veteran players receive “per diem” payments, commencing with the first day of Preseason Training Camp and ending one week prior to the Club’s first regular season game, at the following weekly rates for the respective League Years: $1,600 (201 1-12 League Years), $ 1,700 (201 3-14 League Years), $1,800 (201 5-16 League Years), $1,900 (201 7-18 League Years), $2,000 (201 9-20 League Years).
One week into training camp, it’s already time to start thinking about preseason games. And, before we know it, the Dallas Cowboys will be departing for the Big Apple to take on the New York Giants on Sept 5. Let’s see how much of an effect this new training camp structure has on the legs of players of all teams as the real deal – the regular season – inches ever closer.