- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 5, 2001

I don't know about you, but it breaks my heart that the almighty Redskins are back in Carlisle for training camp. I wanted them to stay at Redskin Park because going there last summer was just so much doggone fun.

The traffic jams on the Beltway and Dulles Toll Road. The privilege of paying $10 to park and $10 more to get inside. The sheer enjoyment of sweating your, er, socks off in Washington's 95 percent humidity while watching surly millionaires go through the motions. And, heck, Michael Westbrook didn't punch out Stephen Davis even once.

Now, though, true fans have to drive a couple of hours and stand around on Dickinson College's bucolic campus to watch Our Heroes work out. But you know, it might not be all that bad. I think this Schottenheimer guy Marty, that is, the one with the loudest whistle means business.

One of the reasons for the switch back to Carlisle, as I understand it, is that he doesn't want his troops to sleep in their own beds too much comfort of one sort or another. The NFL is no place for TLC. Ya gotta be mean, and what better way to get there than by taking players away from their families and making them sleep in a small bed in a spare dormitory room?

(I've taken an unofficial survey of players, and I'm happy to report that 78 percent of the respondents indicated a willingness to sleep in somebody else's bed if necessary to help the team.)

Getting back to the fans which, as we know, is the main reason why professional athletes play I don't understand why so many want to watch football players practice anyway, whether in Ashburn, Carlisle or the vacant lot next door to your house.

Way back, in a previous professional life, I was required to peruse practices. Do you have any idea how dull that can be? It was more fun watching grass grow, but sometimes the team worked out on artificial turf. Quick, the No-Doz.

What's even worse is that the coaches act like Something Really Important is happening. They like to say, "You play like you practice," but if that were true a lot of NFL stadiums might be empty on Sundays. B-o-r-i-n-g.

That's why I like baseball. There's a game every day, although it might take four hours to finish. None of this doing "reps" until everybody on the field and sideline is ready to climb the nearest tree.

When George Allen coached the Redskins in the '70s, he was the all-time master of pretending practices were more important than nuclear disarmament and finding a cure for cancer. He used to send his personal spy, the diminutive Ed "Double-O" Boynton, searching for Cowboys spies behind every bush. One memorable day when the team was off, the blinds were drawn at every window overlooking the field. Exclaimed one totally awed journalist: "He's achieved the ultimate a closed non-practice."

I know Schottenheimer is a pretty intense fellow, but I certainly hope he's not that bad. After all, paranoia should be kept within reasonable bounds.

Another reason I wish training camp were still at Redskin Park is that the increased distance from Bethesda to Carlisle might make it tougher for Dan Snyder to be a hands-on owner as often, and we all remember how his valuable input last summer helped point the fat cat Redskins toward that dazzling 8-8 record.

Whenever Danny Boy had a "suggestion" for Norv Turner, all he had to do was have his chauffeur whisk him around the Beltway, congestion permitting. This season it will be harder to interfere, especially since I think Schottenheimer has an unlisted number in Carlisle.

And I feel sorry for all those other teams that were able to scouts the open practices at Redskin Park. Now, when practice is closed in Carlisle, they'll have to skulk around and hide behind trees again. Do you suppose "Double-O" might be willing to come out of retirement?

If you want my advice, I wouldn't bother going to Carlisle unless a media outlet is paying you to do so. There are better ways to spend your summer days. What's wrong with staying inside by the air conditioner and dreaming of crisp fall Sundays on which the Redskins bash all opposition on their way to the Super Bowl?

OK, so it's a pipe dream. What I'm saying is that the pro football season commands enough of our attention from September to January. There's no reason to get our bowels and sweat glands in an uproar in August. We can always pass the time by watching the Orioles, Mystics, Freedom and D.C. United lose.

Come to think of it, anybody got directions to Carlisle?

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