FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Roddy White stripped off his pads after practicing for nearly 2½ hours on a balmy Georgia morning, knowing he wouldn’t have to go through that again.
Not on this day, at least.
Two-a-days have been tossed aside, joining leather helmets and the Wing-T as NFL relics.
No wonder White was wearing such a big smile as lunchtime approached.
“I am done for the day, baby,” gloated the Atlanta Falcons’ star receiver.
Well, that was a bit of an overstatement. There still were meetings to attend, film to watch, weights to lift. Heck, White and his teammates weren’t even done on the field Monday, returning in the afternoon for an hour-long practice known in football terms as a walkthrough.
But considering what training camp was like in past years, this feels like a walk in the park.
The league’s new collective bargaining agreement finally puts the focus where it should have been all along — on the players. No longer can wannabe generals (some refer to them as coaches) hold two full practices on a single day. No longer can they push players dangerously close to the brink of exhaustion. No longer can they send out players day after day after day in blazing summer heat.
There are coaches and ex-players — and even some current players — who look at the changes with a disdainful eye, believing it’s brought a little too much humanity to this violent sport.
These guys are still going to be throwing themselves into each other for our enjoyment on any given Sunday, maybe even more violently than they did before because they’re not so beat up after training camp.