(Photo courtesy of New England Patriots)
(Charlie Joiner photo courtesy of the San Diego Chargers)
Talk of Fame Network
With training camps opening this week, the Talk of Fame Network looks back to when the summer workload was far different than it is today with Hall-of-Famers John Hannah and Charlie Joiner and HOF finalist Jim Marshall. Today training camps are barely a month long, with highly limited contact. In their days, well, it was eight weeks of hell.
“My rookie year camp started on Fourth of July weekend,” Hannah recalled. “It was like boot camp. It got you ready for battle.”
Hannah believes the lack of emphasis on contact these days “is one of the major reasons you’ve got so many injuries. You’ve got to learn to take a blow and you’ve got to learn how to fall down and get up without getting hurt. You get all that in camp hitting in practice. Because they don’t do that enough, they never learn.”
What Joiner learned from attending camps with three different teams during his career was that the players’ choice would always be Paul Brown, the legendary coach of the Cleveland Brown and Cincinnati Bengals. Joiner played four years in Cincinnati under Brown after four in Houston. After his time in Cincinnati he then went to 11 training camps with the San Diego Chargers. As much as he came to love Don Coryell, when it came to training camp you couldn’t beat Paul Brown.
“A Don Coryell camp was long practices and a lot of passes,” Joiner recalled. “Paul Brown camp was morning practice about 55 minutes. Afternoon practice an hour and 15 minutes. If I could stay in Cincinnati I could play football forever.”
Brown felt training camp was for precise work, and Joiner carried that attitude throughout his career. To prove the point, Joiner recalls the day he once ran a sideline route in practice so precise that Hall-of-Fame quarterback Dan Fouts connected with him … while throwing the ball blindfolded!
That’s what eight weeks of training camp can do for you.
Jim Marshall attended more training camps than any defensive lineman in NFL history. Like Fouts-to-Joiner, Marshall could have made the 65-mile drive from Minneapolis to Mankato, where the Vikings trained, blindfolded. The question during the years he played for Norm Van Brocklin was whether he would survive after he arrived.
“You could stay out two or three hours (practicing),” Marshall recalled. “If he felt you needed a scrimmage, you scrimmaged … It’s so much different today. They have a spring session. They lift weights all season. We didn’t have any of that. You really came to camp to get in shape. It was very hard some times.”
What isn’t hard is listening to these men recall training camp days and a training camp daze that doesn’t exist any more, fortunately for today’s players.
Our Hall of Fame hosts, Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge, also fire away at each other this week for one last Deflategate debate, recall long-time NFL head coach Dennis Green, who recently passed away at the age of 67, and visit with Hall-of-Fame voter and Fox Sport’s John Czarnecki, who recalls training camp days with the original L.A. Rams, as well as discussing if today’s Rams will suffer from moving from one training ground to another.
There’s that and more during the TOF’s weekly two-hour show, which can be heard on 80 radio stations around the country, on the weekly podcast available at iTunes or by going to talkoffamenetwork.com and clicking on the helmet icon.