<span style="">It arrived like a Christmas present. As the players grinded through the morning practice the sound of a grumble echoed. Soon, a few lightning bolts followed and players smiled. It was the kind of smile that hurts their cheeks. After three years of flawless training camp practice schedules, a rift presented itself. Coach Payton acknowledged the unfortunate or fortunate developments, depending on whom you ask weather conditions that finally broke our streak of consecutive practices without interruption.
It was bound to happen sooner or later. It's not that we don't want to practice, it's that our bodies are asking us for a break. The normality of putting our bodies through this punishment is, as I tell people, that if I didn't have to take part of training camp, I could add another five years to my career. Professional football doesn't work that way though. The grind we encounter together as a team is what builds unity, perseverance and friendships. We do it together and no one can take what we do and our experience away from us.
As we tire through another two-a-day I've noticed this is time the team separates the men from the boys. Attitude is the biggest key now. Stay focused on your job and techniques. The past couple of days we have brought NFL referees in to watch our every move. It adds focus to my game because it's a better simulation of game play. I can't and won't lose sight that I have to use the techniques Terry Malone, my tight ends coach, has taught me ever as I'm exhausted. Again, I'm going to be fired up in the game, so I need to practice at a high level so it transfers to the game. We've all been coached this since we were kids, and it still holds true.
I've known Coach Malone for 11 years now. We were together at the University of Michigan in 1997, the year we won the National Championship. He's a great coach, and an even better person. It's easier to play for coaches you like. There are experiences I can call upon that he remembers that we can transfer to a current situation. It definitely helps me. Now…there are still times where he gets upset with me or the other tight ends, but it's always in our best interest. It's a good thing that our coach cannot only praise us, but demand more from us. Besides, if we play well, he looks good too.
Today, he did something special for us. Over the years, Coach Malone has compiled statements, quotes, and philosophies from people that had an impact on his life or books he has read that have left a memorable impression. He gave us a book of all his favorite ones that can help us as football players and in life. A truly motivating book given to us at a perfect time. When Coach Malone hits the "big time", go ahead and pick up a copy for yourself. I know I can always use a tool such as this to keep my eyes on the bigger picture. I just hope he doesn't use a pen name. The coach title gives him credibility.
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