“I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'" ~ Muhammad Ali
That has always been my personal favorite sports quote. It's one that I try, and the key word here is try, to live my life by, and you know what? Something about the Denver Broncos' training camp thus far makes me think that Josh McDaniels likes that quote too.
For all that Mike Shannahan accomplished during his tenure as Broncos' coach, much is made over some of his bone-headed decisions. I believe one of those decisions was his somewhat soft approach to the physical portion of training camp.
To be fair, Shanny was no slouch when it came to getting his team ready for the season. He did, however, tend to coddle his players a little too much in camp, especially his veterans and high-profile rookies.
I went to training camp each of the past three years, and let me tell you, there was no shortage of guys just standing around and watching. At times, Broncos players looked more like a herd of cattle than football players preparing for the season.
Luckily I took some pictures of those moments, because I doubt I'll ever see the inmates behave that way again as long as McDaniels is running the asylum.
As we here in the Rocky Mountains are slowly finding out, the "Patriot Way" of doing things applies to far more than just the players and the system; it also covers the kind of mentality a team should have when they practice.
This isn't your "No Fun League" type of training camp. In fact, you probably haven't seen or heard of something like this in Denver since the days of the Orange Crush.
One of the biggest differences so far in this year's camp is that players are actually allowed, and more importantly encouraged, to tackle each other in certain drills.
"We don't do them too many times, but I think early in camp it is good to do that because you certainly do not want to go into your first game not having tackled somebody or been tackled," McDaniels said when asked about the tackling drills. "You have got to weigh it, you are right. There are pros and cons to doing it too much, but we are going to try to hit the right mix hopefully."
If being more physical early on means the defense might actually still be playing in December, then I'm all for it.
Seriously, how many tackles did Bronco defenders miss last season? Hundreds? Millions? Zillions?
Was it due to lack of talent on the roster, or did Shannahan simply not give his players the kind of practice they needed to be ready for games?
It's a little bit of both, in my opinion, and if you need any indication to how much tougher camp is this year, just take a look at Jarvis Moss. No more than three days into the process and Denver's first-round pick of two years ago already considered throwing in the towel.
The fact is even though he hasn't panned out so far, Shannahan had no choice but to support Moss when he was coach because he traded up to draft him in the belief that he would be an impact player.
McDaniels, on the other hand, has no obligation to show that kind of bias to any of the holdovers that came from Shannahan's mistakes, and it will be interesting to see how many of those players survive the first round of cuts.
Time will tell whether or not this roster is built for success, but it is this writer's belief that this old-school training camp will do nothing but play to the Broncos' advantage.
If nothing else, McDaniels will ensure that this team goes through all the motions before they even think about suiting up for a game.