Sydney Speaks! Country club in session

Former Packers fullback and assistant coach Harry Sydney is as 'old school' as they come when it comes to football ... which is why he is blowing off some steam in his column today over players getting paid to work out. Read on, premium members!

Let's get excited. It's the start of the Packers off-season workouts and they have almost 95% of the squad is attending. They have begun working on new, high-tech exercises this week because Mike McCarthy wants to change what they did in their training last year because he attributed it to starting slow. Oh, that's right, they started slow because of the stretching and lifting that happened last year.

So now the weightlifting has started and they will, according to the lifting coach Rock Gullickson, hopefully be fresher so when the season starts they will be ready to go. Along with that they will have different running and stretching routines. They will work out during the week and have three day weekends. Not only that, but each player will get tested to find out their strengths as well as their weaknesses. Along with that they will have breakfast served in the dining all every day. Trust me, we aren't talking about some quicky meal. This will be a breakfast served for a king.

Maybe this is where some of the salary cap money is going instead of getting players in free agency. Any wonder where the term spoiled athlete comes from? Let's see, they now pay these million-dollar babies to do their job, which is to get their bodies in shape, so that they can make more money during the season to reach their incentives.

I hate to say things like ‘back in the day,' but I remember a time when the athlete had to keep himself in shape or he wasn't going to get paid, so he worked his butt off. Talk about times changing. Over the last couple of years we have been wondering what has happened to the pride of the professional athlete? I say nothing, except it's been bought and paid for.

Think about what's happening to the modern professional football players. First, they get paid a crazy about of money to put their name on the dotted line, which isn't all their fault. An organization could say ‘no that's too much money' … kind of what the Packers said to Ahman Green, so it does take two to tango. So in the contract they get signing bonuses, which I'm even cool with, because a lot of that is guaranteed money. That's the only sure thing that a player might get, whether some of those numbers are ridiculous or not. Even though some of those numbers are outrageous I do understand signing bonuses and how that helps the teams as well as the player with the overall contract and that's always been part of the game. Like I said I understand that, but I don't understand the new babysitting policy that they call the off-season workout program.

Let me see if I am getting it right. Now they put into players contracts that if they come in town and workout they will make ex-amount of dollars. Not only that, but the organization will feed them, put them up at a hotel, I believe, unless they already have a place to stay. Or they will pay for their room and board while they are here working out. In other words, the modern player gets paid for doing what it takes to prepare for the upcoming season.

As I think more about this it really makes me appreciate the days when the real warriors played the game. Guys like Herb Adderley, Forrest Gregg and Ezra Johnson. Remember those guys that played for nothing, except for the love of the game and all they did was pave the way, and many have nothing to show for it. A while back, Jerry Kramer, one of the Packers former greats, along with Mike Ditka and many other older players were trying to get Gene Upshaw of the NFL Players Association and the owners to help some of the legends of the NFL that have fallen on hard times. They have been trying to raise money for those that put this game on the map, but up to this time there has been nothing done except lip service. It seems that instead of helping those players that now only get a couple hundred dollars in retirement a month to live on and now have nothing but aches and pains to show for it, the owners and players association would rather pay players to get themselves in shape.

They have been forgotten, so instead of thinking about the old they do nothing but give everything to the new athlete. Talk about the rich getting richer. Some of the players are making more on workout bonuses than the salary of many of the players of the past.

I guess I really have a problem with the concept of paying someone for doing what they should be doing anyway. I guess that's where the game is changing because it used to be about PRIDE. Players worked out because that's what they had to do to get paid and now they are paid to work out. Talk about the COUNTRY CLUB NOW IN SESSION.

Harry Sydney

Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at

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