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Why don’t more NFL teams go away for training camp?

An NFL training camp used to be an experience for both fans and players alike. Teams who travel all over their local area to practice, develop cohesion as a team, and improve their skills heading into the upcoming season.

However, in the past decade, and especially after COVID-19 protocols limited teams from traveling away from their facilities in 2020 and 2021, this practice has all but been eliminated from practice.

Yes, there are still some teams who leave the friendly confines of their home facilities to get away from home and practice, but those teams are limited to a handful. Here are some who still get away for annual camp:

Pittsburgh Steelers
Location: Saint Vincent College, Latrobe, PA

Carolina Panthers
Location: Wofford College (Spartanburg, SC)

Dallas Cowboys
Location: Marriott Residence Inn (Oxnard, CA)

Los Angeles Rams
Location: University of California, Irvine (Irvine, CA)

Kansas City Chiefs
Location: Missouri Western State University (St. Joseph, MO)

Indianapolis Colts
Location: Grand Park (Westfield, IN)

With 32 teams in the NFL, having a list that small seems odd and out of place, as it pertains to teams who choose to travel to get their preseason work elsewhere. It then begs the question why teams have made the decision to just stay put?

For most teams, it likely comes down to cost effectiveness. Picking up and moving everything, including your weight room, is no simple task. It costs a lot of money and man hours to move that much equipment to any location, let alone a facility 30+ minutes away.

On top of the simple answer of it saves money, NFL teams have to love the control they have when they are in their own facility. They can limit who, and what, people see, while those who have open practices succumb to the iPhone footage taken every day at practices.

Players also being able to stay in their own beds, and be around their families has to be considered a major bonus. Recently, former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger spoke about this on his Footbahlin’ podcast. While he did enjoy the Steelers’ trek to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA every year, he did enjoy his last two training camps when the team stayed in Pittsburgh. It allowed him to see his family every day, and be more rejuvenated on a daily basis.

The picture I’m painting here makes it seem as if there are no benefits of going away for training camp. There are absolutely positives to be gleaned from this old-school approach to team improvement.

Team cohesion has to top the list of reasons why the teams who still travel elsewhere for camp continue to do so. Having the players thinking of only one thing and one thing only, football, is a positive. Being around their teammates 24/7 strengthens their bond and helps them become a more cohesive, and likely better, football team.

On top of team bonding, the organizations who travel, and still hold open practices, have to feel it benefits the fan base. Players are up-close-and-personal with fans on a daily basis, and it likely adds some pressure to their practice sessions when otherwise they could get dull.

Ultimately, those who choose to leave their home facility for training camp describe it as such:

All football, all the time.

This could be why some players hate it, while others love it. It truly depends on the player and where they are at that stage in their career. Does it really matter? From a performance standpoint, probably not. For fans who want to see their favorite team closely? It absolutely does.

For many teams, if it doesn’t improve their on-field performance, They aren’t doing it. But what about the fans? If you haven’t figured it out yet, most NFL teams don’t care about the fans, and that’s just a simple fact. It seems like it will only be a matter of time until there aren’t any NFL teams who take their show on the road for training camp, and that will be a sad day.

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