This story came out last week when I was knee deep in getting the book out, but I do want to address it. According to Jason LaCanfora, now of the NFL Network, Jim Zorn is going to let veteran players--those with four or more years of NFL service—spend the night at home during training camp. After dinner and the evening meetings they will get into their cars and drive home.
I'm not sure what to think of this. On the one hand it's a nice perk to hand to the vets. On the other hand, what about team chemistry, camaraderie, sharing the training camp experience with the teammates? Is this just another way for a team known for having different sets of rules for different types of players to further draw lines of separation?
I think that the latter point has some merit. It's not as bad as it used to be when the likes of Bruce Smith would be invited to enjoy brandy and cigars with the owner but there still is a star system in effect to an extent. This does add a little bit to that atmosphere even though guys like Anthony Montgomery get the same privilege as Albert Haynesworth. Football is the ultimate team and the more the guys are in the foxhole together—even when the foxhole is a multi-million dollar luxury conference center—the better.
But it's not exactly like the time that the vets will be at home is quality team time. They'll be assembled as a team for some 12 hours a day. There isn't a whole lot going on in terms of socialization in the evening. It's not like Clinton Portis would be hanging out and shooting pool with Marcus Mason after dinner or anything. And we're talking about a total of about 18 days.
In reality, the policy is unlikely to have an effect one way or another but, regardless, an effect will be perceived. If the Redskins are successful it will be because the treated the men like grownups. If they are mediocre it will be because the inmates are running the asylum.
This isn't unprecedented. Brian Billick did it his last few years with the Ravens.
Of course, Billick is now a TV analyst and not a coach. If Zorn wants to avoid the same fate as Billick his little favor to his veterans had better not come back to bite him.