On Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie class hit the field to begin the first training camp of the 2013 National Football League calendar.
As a football fan, this is a glorious moment. Nothing is better than the crack of pads on a warm summer day, watching rookies and veterans clashing in competition. Of course, we have a little ways to go before players start putting on the pads, but now the countdown begins to the first preseason game on August 4.
So why is training camp so exciting? Let's dive in:
No matter how good or crappy your team is likely to be, all 32 teams have hope headed into training camp. Whether the pundits believe in your group or not, everybody begins with a 0-0 mark. It's the time of year when fans only see the best in their players, when the flaws are a thing of the past.
2. New coaches, new teams
It's fun to see first-time coaches getting a chance to realize their dreams. This year, we have Rob Chudzinski, Bruce Arians (technically), Doug Marrone, Mike McCoy, Chip Kelly, Marc Trestman and Gus Bradley. Without question, some of these men will fall flat on their face. However, perhaps one or two becomes legends.
3. First look at the rooks
It's always enjoyable to see your team's top selection. No matter how little the action, fans get to go nuts and overreact. Only in training camp do you have people saying "Check out the way our receiver does that cone drill baby!" Personally, I'm jacked to watch the rookies and the subsequent massive responses.
4. Insane tweets from writers
Nothing is more hilarious than accomplished writers having to tweet 100 times per day about a practice that usually doesn't involve pads. Things like "team blasting AC/DC at the field, stretching #hellsbells" warm my soul. Many things in life are uncertain, but funny tweets coming from training camp isn't one of them.
5. Position battles
Some of the position battles are expected, such as the case in Philadelphia with Michael Vick and Nick Foles. Then there are the unexpected, when an undrafted rookie decides to make a huge impact and stun the masses. Other times, we have the young pup pushing the old, respected vet out. These are awesome to watch.
6. Preseason games
Once a few weeks of training camp pass, we get our first taste of exhibition games in August. Whether it's watching the battle for a final roster spot or simply enjoying seeing our team back in action, it's always nice to see some games. The final score doesn't matter, but plenty within the game does.
7. Irrational excitement
Every year, every team has one or two players who emerge out of nowhere to become contributors in the preseason. Then fans take it way too far and believe these guys are future stars and Hall of Fame material. It's always a good time to develop a man-crush on the third-string tackle who becomes an insurance salesman.
8. Pro football players staying in dorms
Many teams stay home these days, but some still go off to a college. These teams make me a happy person. There are few things funnier than a bunch of millionaires being crammed into a dingy dorm room. As a college kid, living in a dorm is something you aren't pumped about. As a football player? Tough times.
I'm not a boxing or MMA guy, but I love a good training camp fight. Any time you can get a couple of 300-pound, angry lineman to start punching facemasks, it makes for some good TV clips. That said, you don't want anybody going Michael Westbrook or Bill Romanowski, that's never a good look. Those dudes are crazy.
It's back man. Finally, the best sport in America is on the field and gearing up for another campaign. In the NBA, people know who the likely champion is before the yea starts. In baseball, half the teams have no chance out of the gate. Football? You never know what is going to happen. Teams go from worst to first and vice versa all the time.
Bring on training camp, I've got my twitter feed up, my popcorn ready, and my emotions ready to overreact.