Cleveland Browns Training Camp is barely underway yet the excitement is evident. Reports are already coming in of chanting, cheering, and much more noise from the crowd. People on Twitter seem to be yearning for details from every snap, every whistle. But why? Why do we, especially Browns fans get so excited for practices that seem to have little impact on the team’s success for the year? Like anything there is no simple answer, just answers.
Throughout the off-season we covered, as best we could, the on going sagas of Johnny Manziel and Josh Gordon. One common thread through comments on all of those posts was the desire for actual football information. Was anyone at the facilities? How were players recoveries from injuries going? Unfortunately that information wasn’t being made available to the media. What it really told us was fans wanted to hear about football related activities. While casual fans, and national sports media longed for off the field drama, die hard fans, all of you on DPD, look forward to real football related efforts. Training Camp provides the first glimpses of actual, real life FOOTBALL!!! even if it is contrived practices.
Much like the Browns’ fans general feeling during the ramp up and just following the NFL Draft, Training Camp provides hope. There is hope that the players we have spent all off-season hearing about can actually make an impact on the field. There is hope that a new coach, new system or new workout regime can turn an adequate player into a star, a star into a superstar and a losing franchise into a playoff contender. Hope abounds during this time of year. Even with the Gordon issues looming, fans are excited that Mike Pettine et al, plus Justin Gilbert, Joel Bitonio, Manziel, Andrew Hawkins, et al and the Zone Blocking Scheme all can make the Browns a contender in the AFC North.
The setting of practices, purposefully, is to get players to feel successful. The best way to get buy in from the players is to get them to feel successful in what they do. The defense can feel like they could dominate, if only they were allowed to hit more (or hit the QB). While the offense sees success in the wide open format that tends to allow speedy players to run free. It is why training camps of Browns past have given us players like Ben Gay and Dion Lewis. Players fans were excited could come out of nowhere to have a huge impact on the team. The practice setting makes the athletes look like world beaters. Pre-Season games are the first time the team and fans get to see them against real competition.
Finally fans get the chance to watch practices up close and personal. It creates an exciting, first person feel to the events. Fans are cheering, interacting with players and coaches. Music is playing, fans are in full costumes and pure joy is the experience. For adults and children alike, Training Camp brings you to childhood. It is the closest fans get to players for days at a time. For many vacation time is used to get this opportunity.
What gets you excited about Training Camp?