With the start of the NFL regular season comes one of the most prized aspects of the season, for those of us who work within the sport — that being routine.
During the all-important training-camp period, the Denver Broncos played games on Monday night, Saturday night, Saturday night, and Thursday night, squeezing four preseason games into an 18-day period.
In between, there were two-a-day practices, special teams practices, meetings in the morning, noon, and night, with player treatment and press sessions to go along with every period on the field.
Every team looks forward to settling into the routine, which does not vary much for any NFL club during the course of the season.
Monday is a run-and-lift day, with the schedule usually varying depending on team.
Monday is a late night for coaches, who have started work on how to attack the new opponent.
Tuesday is the players’ day off, with the exception of those who need to come in for important treatment, as directed by the trainers, and it is an administrative catch-up day for several departments.
For coaches, it is a very late night, later usually than Monday, as the final touches are put on the new game plan.
Wednesday features the first meeting and practice day directed at preparation for the new opponent — for those of us in PR, it means press conferences with the coach, with the quarterback, and myriad interview sessions with other players by the 45-55 media members in attendance.
And another late night for coaches.
Thursday matches Wednesday in terms of player meetings and practice, but the evening work slows down just a tad for coaches, and the interviews tail off as well — the players would say they don’t notice a difference, but some media only come on Wednesdays, so while Thursday still features a lot of activity, it is reduced from the previous day.
On Friday meetings and practice both happen earlier, and the by now mentally and physically weary players are ready for a few hours of respite. They are gone by mid-afternoon, usually, and hopefully the coaches as well.
The press have wrapped up most of their stories for the week, and except for a few touch-up interviews they are ready to bolt for the doors as well.
Saturday involves team meetings in the morning, followed by either a trip to the airport for a road game or a few hours off before players and coaches check into the team hotel for the night before a home game.
Whether home or away, the night before the game means a team dinner and then more meetings.
One thing many fans do not realize is that players spend at least as much time (and probably a lot more) in classrooms during the week than they do on the practice field.
If you don’t know where you are running, what difference does it make how fast you are?
That brings us to Sunday, the prize catch on the calendar of football, the day players, coaches, support staff, media and fans all wait for.
Then comes Monday, and the routine begins again.