No matter when this lockout comes to an end there has already been irreparable damage done to the 2011 season. Not having free agency has affected every team. Not having OTAs has delayed the process players and coaches go through to prepare for the season. Not having any idea of when we may see the owners reopen their doors is forcing teams to make some tough decisions.
Right now we’re heading towards the crossroads.
Until this point most teams haven’t truly felt the sting of the lockout but that could all change soon. Certain organizations, such as the Cincinnati Bengals, have instituted a drop dead date for moving their training camp. The stipulation is based on a deal being reached by a certain date in order to keep camp at its current location.
As of now the Oakland Raiders are still moving forward with holding their camp in Napa as they’ve been doing for the past 15 years now. The consensus is that all that would happen is the Raiders would shift from Napa to conducting camp at the team facility in Alameda. However with standing contracts such as that with the Napa Marriott there has to be some sort of deadline as to when they’d have to notify all their vendors.
Make no mistake; the quality of football for 2011 has already been compromised. While on the surface changing venues doesn’t seem like a big deal it could be a crucial early obstacle to overcome.
Not all teams hold their camps at remote locations but those that do choose to do so for a specific purpose. Training camp is all about getting away from the distractions of the offseason and getting back to focusing on the business of football. By taking the team to Napa, Hue Jackson and his staff get their players away from their homes and comfort zone thus creating an all-football environment.
Being that this would be Jackson’s first camp as a head coach it is important he gets those weeks in July and August to establish what kind of a ship he’ll be running. While the veteran leadership of Richard Seymour and Jason Campbell is proving invaluable in Georgia this week nothing can substitute the presence of an NFL coaching staff.
Let’s hope we get a miracle because if camps start getting moved then canceling games comes next. After that, all bets are off and the season is pretty much a wash.