Lombardi: Dead time

The NFL is a year round league. There is not really an off season any more.

Between the draft, free agency, off-season workouts and multiple minicamps, the work never ends. I ran into one of my friends who works for the Packers at a gas station on Memorial Day. I asked him if he had any big plans for the holiday. Work was his answer. I know he was the not the lone employee in the building that day.

I cannot speak for everyone at 1265 Lombardi Avenue, but now is the dead time for most NFL teams. Training camp for the Packers opens on July 25. From now until a few days before camp opens, most of the football staff will be on vacation. They come back early enough to take care of any last minute details before the players arrive. Most of the year, the football staff works every day. They arrive early in the morning and work late into the evening. Holidays and weekends are just like every other work day in the NFL.

No one is crying for the players and coaches. They make a lot of money and have chosen to be in this profession. But they need to get away and decompress like everyone else. Now is the time they do it. Art Modell, owner of the Browns once had to order Bill Belichick to take a vacation. He took the family out to Colorado and after a few days of leisure, he snuck down to the University of Colorado and got them to let him watch college game tape in preparation of the draft.

Once minicamp ends in mid- June, I would always head off for a six-week getaway. No one had to order me to do it. It sounds like a great thing, six weeks off, but if really isn't as wonderful as it sounds. I tried to cram as much as I could into those few weeks and would run myself ragged. Early in my career, when I was single, I would go visit my buddies around the country and sample the local cuisine and nightlife. Once I was with my wife, we would take some time together. She was a school teacher and that worked out great. Our time off matched well. But six weeks of vacation can wear you out and tax the pocketbook. I was not responsible enough to plan ahead, so I always entered training camp dead broke. I did not have the big salary back then.

The thing that was accomplished by this time off was that I was mentally ready for the grind of the season that lasted from July 25 until the last game. Once the season ended, things did not let up much. We did not work as late into the night, but from the end of the season, we had one mission. Find players in the draft or through free agency. After the draft, minicamp started and that went into June. It never really let up. The off-season is not as urgent a time, but the pressure is there.

So as you take a few days here and there, hope that the Packers are doing the same. They will need the energy and mental peace to push through the dog days of summer and into my favorite time of year, also known as football season.

Editor's note: John Lombardi is the grandson of legendary coach Vince Lombardi. John resides with his family in Green Bay . His football experience includes stints with two teams in the World League (now NFL Europe); in the scouting departments of the Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans; and graduate assistant coach and director of football operations at Vanderbilt. He will be contributing columns for PackerReport.com.

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