Sydney Speaks! Not all it's cracked up to be

Most Packers players and coaches have either left Green Bay, or are preparing to leave for a month-long vacation before training camp begins. Former Packers fullback and assistant coach Harry Sydney explains how quickly that time flies by, especially for the coaches.

Right now there isn't much happening at 1265 Lombardi Ave. The coaches, if they are smart, are gone as well as the players. This is the time to really get away especially if you are a coach but unfortunately this vacation is short-lived and here's why:

An assistant coach in the National Football League will get approximately one month of paid vacation. To a lot of you that might seem like an awesome time, but I'm here to tell you it usually does more damage than good. Coaches are football guys that try to be family men, husbands, handyman, and they try to make up for everything they missed out on in the last eleven months when they barely saw their kids or missed their birthdays. This is that time of the year that the coaches' wives bring out that honey dew list that's been waiting for them. You guys know that list, right? It's the honey do this, or the honey can you do that? You might even get the ‘Honey, what do you think if we did that?' list.

Trust me, I know for the Packers that football season was over early and because of that this new staff has been doing nothing but concentrating on football since they were hired. They really haven't had time for family things. Not only that, but look at the problems that come along with coaching. I had written about it at the end of the season when I was worried about Edgar Bennett and his family and how things would work out for him. Luckily they worked out perfectly because Mike McCarthy hired him to continue to coach the running backs. But then I look at Jeff Jagodzinski's story. His wife and kids love living in Atlanta where he was coaching. What happens to the family structure if the wife and kids don't want to play the bounce around game and want to stay in Atlanta? Think about the other coaches and their families. Some will move to Green Bay and others might not. How long does that month seem, especially when the first week of vacation as a coach you make sure you don't forget anything at the office. The next two weeks you try to catch up on everything that you missed with the family. The wives finally have a husband back, and the kids have their father back. You become husband, father for two weeks and just when they are starting to depend on you and you start to relax it's the fourth week and you start to prepare to go back to football.

I remember when I was coaching and I would come home during those vacations and try to change up things. My wife and kids would look at me like I was a stranger. They would give me that look of why are you trying to fix something that isn't broke? In other words: ‘Stop coaching!!!' I know deep down inside I was just feeling guilty because I had missed so much of their lives as I was coaching and spending 18 hours a day making winning and losing in football more important than my family. It's a tough balancing act and it gets tougher during that month's vacation. During that month off Jagodzinski will be trying to figure out how to get this one to soccer practice, this one to the baseball game and the other to dance at the same time. Then he will look at amazement at how well organized things are in the household and hope he get the team to function as well as his wife has done in his absence. Hopefully Mike McCarthy will get away as well but then again as a head coach or even an assistant coach you never fully get away. There is always something to remind you of something else. I remember when I was coaching I always carried a tape recorder because there are always ideas popping up at the strangest time. Ideas on pass routes, blocking drills, protection or you will remember some coaching point that you wanted to point out and you think you did, but aren't sure. Then you are worrying about your players and what are they doing, especially when you have a young group that really doesn't have a clue about what it's going to take to play at this level or they have no idea about training camp. I look at guys like A.J. Hawk, Jason Spitz, Abdul Hodge, Leo Bookman and Greg Jennings. They don't really have a clue about the wear and tear of training camp. They know it will be hard but because they have never been through anything like this it's up to their position coach to try to prepare them for it. So what does that mean? It means that during the coaches' vacation they will make sure to touch base with their players to keep that line of communication open. Right after the coaches get back, there is a staff meeting and each coach is asked how many times he talked to his players and were their any problems.

So as you can see there isn't a whole lot of real vacation time for these coaches because vacation time means you are physically and mentally somewhere else. As you can see it sounds good, but once you become a coach for the Green Bay Packers even though you might not be physically at 1265 Lombardi Avenue you are always there mentally, so let's just say a coach's vacation ISN'T ALL IT'S CRACKED UP TO BE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Harry Sydney

Editor's note: Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. If you have a question for Harry, e-mail it to managing editor Todd Korth at, and it will be forwarded to him.

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