What We Learned This Weekend in NFL Training Camps:
- NFL Preseason begins with Dolphins and Cowboys
- Seven new members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame are enshrined
- Eagles Riley Cooper’s Paula Deen moment
- Coach Tomlin is running a tough camp for Steelers
Are you ready for some football? Preseason football? Yeah I know, it’s not the same but life seems just a little bit better when there are kickoffs, tackles, and touchdowns. Last night the NFL Preseason kicked off with the Hall of Fame Game featuring the Dallas Cowboys and the Miami Dolphins. Hallelujah football is back!
With the big names like Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and Mike Wallace on the sidelines it wasn’t exactly the typical Sunday Night Football matchup, but it was football and that’s still good. It doesn’t take long watching a preseason game to realize why they suck so badly. There’s not a big entertainment quality to them because there’s no meaning to them and they will feature a ton of players you might never hear from again. Kyle Orton started at quarterback for the Cowboys but only played one series. The Dolphins had some turnover issues and the Cowboys had some solid contributions from their young running back corps in a 24-20 win for Dallas. The 3rd overall pick in the NFL Draft, DE Dion Jordan, had very little impact for the Dolphins.
Saturday night the Pro Football Hall of Fame officially welcomed the Class of 2013. Larry Allen, Cris Carter, Curley Culp, Jonathan Ogden, Bill Parcels, Dave Robinson, and Warren Sapp all received their busts. The speeches were entertaining, although I’m always entertained by the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony. Larry Allen mentioned his first date with his now wife and how she made him chickens, French fries, a cake and served a 40oz of beer. Dave Robinson spoke of how it was for him and his young family to move to Green Bay, Wisconsin in the early 60’s when he began playing for the Packers. Jonathan Ogden advocated for Art Modell to be enshrined in the HOF. Parcells gave a very good speech on his life and times in the NFL. Cris Carter apologized to the Ohio State fan base for his losing his eligibility to play his senior year when he violated NCAA regulations and hired an agent. Steeler Nation hopes to flood Canton next year for Jerome Bettis’ enshrinement ceremony.
By now everyone has seen the video of Philadelphia Eagles wideout Riley Cooper drunk and belligerent at a Kenny Chesney concert and using a racial slur. The backlash hasn’t exactly been on the Paula Deen level because the Eagles haven’t Cut Cooper but have let him go from team activities to attend sensitivity training. Cooper has apologized and seemed genuine in his apology, even if that apology only came after the video surfaced and not the day after the concert. When asked if he had ever used the racial slur before he said that his parents raised him better than that and that they were disgusted with him at the moment. I’m glad that he didn’t hide behind his family, upbringing, or any other nonsense excuse like Paula Deen’s “I is what I is” but I still find the whole thing pretty disturbing. I can’t blame the Eagles for sending him away from the moment but that certainly won’t fix the problem of possible team chemistry issues for when he returns. Cooper also reportedly received death threats following the release of the video amidst the backlash. The NFL won’t pursue any punishment on Cooper at all. I think it would be rather silly for Rogeez to suspend Cooper for being a drunken a**hole at a country music concert if he can’t be bothered to suspend anyone for being arrested for a DUI. Plus, it would be a scooch hypocritical to be so against a player using a racial slur when an entire team (The Washington Redskins) is named after a racial slur. Naturally, the Riley Cooper story still keeps Tebow in the news cycle because Cooper played at UF with Tebow. ESPN wins again.
Today the Steelers will have their 7th straight day of practice at training camp and Coach Tomlin is not letting up one bit. Tomlin’s Steelers camp this year has so far featured live tackling drills the likes of which have not been seen since the Noll days. When asked if he was running camp this way as a response to the team’s 8-8 season last year Tomlin responded,
“I’m just trying to provide this group of men what it is they need to be the best that they can be this year. We have a lot of young guys, a lot of competition, jobs and so forth. The only way to provide more opportunity is to roll the ball out and snap it, and play football. So that’s what we’re doing.”
All we’ve been hearing about since camp opened was what good shape the players arrived in. Players like LaMarr Woodley, Marcus Gilbert, Jonathan Dwyer, and Isaac Redman all showed up to camp svelte and ready to work. You can take that to mean that last year the Steelers were lazy and didn’t care, or take the opportunity to criticize Tomlin for not coaching them better last year. I still have the training camp/new season optimism shield so I’m just looking that much more forward to see how it will all come together once the ball is snapped for the 2013 regular season. We will get a glimpse this Saturday night as the Steelers will host the New York Giants in the first preseason game at Heinz Field. So, with that said, Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go!