Coaches leery of pre-camp activities


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Jan 22, 2006
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Coaches leery of pre-camp activities

By Rick Dean
The Capital-Journal
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Chiefs have three more offseason practices scheduled next week before they break for a month's vacation before the July 27 departure for their Wisconsin training camp.

But the month-long break is seldom relaxing for NFL coaches. Hopeful of fielding a complete roster for the opening of camp, they warily send their players away with the admonition to keep themselves fit and injury free in their last extended time off before the start of a long season.

Those traditional warnings will take on extra meaning this year, however, in the light of the injuries sustained by Pittsburgh's Super Bowl quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, in a motorcycle accident last week.

Not that players should have to be told.

Many NFL contracts have provisions that say a player will forfeit prorated portions of his signing bonus if he loses playing time to injuries not related to football. Some contracts spell out activities to be avoided.

Most players don't need a contract to remind them that availability is as important as ability. They don't need a coach to tell them that offseason downhill skiing in February is a good way to miss game checks in September.
Still, there are players such as Kansas City's Tony Gonzalez who says he knows what he's doing when playing his beloved pickup basketball games, a passion he doesn't intend to stop.

Other players elect to be more cautious.

"I've always been super cautious when it comes to that stuff," Chiefs quarterback Trent Green said this past week.

"I've never snow skied, I've always said that I'll wait until I'm done playing to try it. Now with my knee the way it is, I'll probably never ski. I used to water ski until 1998 when I started for the Redskins, but after that I didn't want to take the chance of falling on the board or something.

"I've always favored the side of caution just because your window of opportunity to play is not very long," Green said. "It took me six years to (become a starting quarterback). But even when I'm done, you won't see me on a motorcycle."

That will come as welcome news to coach Herm Edwards, who felt compelled this week to remind his players of the injury dangers that lurk off the field.

Edwards hopes to never again get the kind of call he got in the spring of 2004 when Jets defensive back Jamie Henderson was involved in a near-fatal motorcycle accident.

"I got the call at 1:30 in the morning," Edwards said. "My wife and I flew down to Atlanta and saw him in the hospital. They didn't think he was going to walk again."

Deaths hit home

The recent tragic drowning deaths in Costa Rica of three southeast Kansas students and the courageous teacher who died trying to save them struck home with Chiefs defensive end Jared Allen, who plans to visit Costa Rica in the upcoming weeks.

Allen, a native of the San Jose, Calif., area, grew up hearing warnings about the dangers of riptides.

"They tell you when you get caught up in a cross current to just go with it, to swim sideways until you get out of it," Allen said. "But the response of most people is to fight to swim back to the beach, and that's where they get in trouble."

Allen also has first-hand knowledge of the danger involved in ocean sports. A cousin surfing near Arcadia, Calif., nearly drowned when his tow line got caught on a reef. Allen's cousin was resuscitated on the beach, but sustained brain damage from oxygen deprivation.
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