I’m taking a page out of Nick Underhill’s book with this one. The New Orleans Saints are moving their training camp out of the Greenbrier, but that won’t magically cure their 7-9 woes.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a reason that the New Orleans Saints decided to make the move out of West Virginia. When you’re not happy with the status quo, you change things up. And changing inconsequential things like location can hammer the emphasis home.
But the idea, more prevalent among vocal fans and some media outlets than I was ready to believe, that the Greenbrier is somehow ruining the toughness of the Saints is simply ridiculous.
The idea seems to be that West Virginia with its ideal temperature, and the Greenbrier with its resort-like atmosphere, made the players feel that they were on vacation. It didn’t allow them to properly prepare for the mental exhaustion of an NFL season, and it made them soft.
Soft. What a funny word to throw around.
I can guarantee you that not a single Saints player felt that they were on vacation. Those guys are on strict work-out schedules, lifting weights all day, watching what they eat, etc. I guarantee you that nobody is up late drinking and partying at the Greenbrier. And I know that that’s not the argument, but I say it to prove my point. There’s nothing vacation-like about a workout camp just because the place is in West Virginia.
I imagine that fans who are most vocal about the idea would rather the Saints practice in some boot camp, eating gruel and sleeping on the floor. No toilet paper, no scenic views, nothing but rain and mud and hard, hard living. These are football players, after all. Tough up or go home.
But I assure you, their time at the Greenbrier was as close to boot-camp as it needed to be. They worked out every bit as hard, gave every bit as much effort as they needed. Like you said, these are NFL players. They know what a tough sport football is. Even the rookies have just come off the heels of a college season; do you think that’s a walk in the park? These guys need to be able to refuel just as much as anyone else. And if that means a nice, plush bed to sleep in after a day of intense workouts, then that’s what it means.
We’ll wait and see how this offseason goes. The 2016 Saints looked like a much better team than in 2014 or 2015, and I’d be shocked if they go 7-9 again. Especially if they put together another solid offseason. But if they do get out of the cellar and back into the playoffs, don’t for one second make the mistake in thinking that the Greenbrier had anything to do with their poor seasons. It didn’t.