My favorite Saints’ homes away from home
When friends ask these questions about training camp I have to giggle. Do you guys stay at The Greenbrier? The answer is, absolutely not.
Are you bringing golf clubs? Nope. Just plenty of work to do when I am not working.
Training camp is not vacation. Not for the coaches, players and media.
Although I may be in the minority among media members, I hope this is the last year of Saints’ training camp in West Virginia. The majority of NFL teams now conduct training camp at their own practice facilities.
Only one travels farther than the Saints, and that would be the Dallas Cowboys, who go to Oxnard, California. And, based on their win-loss record over the past 20 years, I don’t understand why any team would want to do what Dallas does.
Here are the rankings of my Saints training camp sites.
Vero Beach, Florida, was without a doubt the best. The then-spring training home of the Los Angeles Dodgers had great rooms, terrific food and the Atlantic Ocean was only minutes away. Plus, in the early ’80s, television live shots were uncommon. So, a courier would arrive around lunchtime and pick up your tape and take it to the airport in Orlando to make the flight to New Orleans. After an afternoon practice, head coach Bum Phillips would offer media members a cold beer.
My second-favorite place is home. Yes, it is oppressively hot, but not every workout is outdoors. And, by staying home, you can not only sleep in your bed but also limit the amount of money your wife spends on the house, in the event that you were camping out of town.
LaCrosse, Wisconsin, checks in at No. 3. The weather was great, the facilities were good, and Howie’s on LaCrosse street had $1.50 cheeseburgers on Monday night. LaCrosse made me think of Lafayette, a nice, comfortable city, only 20 degrees cooler in the summer.
Southeastern and Nicholls State tie for fourth. The schools and the towns went out of their way to accommodate the Saints and media.
No. 5 is The Greenbrier Resort. The weather is great. But, if it is not the end of the earth, you can certainly see it from there.
No. 6 is Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. Less than three hours from home, Jackson wasn’t a bad place to spend time in the summer. Although the hottest I have been at camp ever was on the turf field in late afternoon.
No. 7 was Louisiana Tech in Ruston. Nothing against Ruston. But, one day at camp, we looked over at the bank clock across the street from the practice field, and it read 104 degrees. To stand out on the field and know there were only 4 1/2 weeks of camp remaining was depressing stuff.
I can only imagine what it was like for those on the field who were actually working.
Ed Daniels is sports director of WGNO ABC26. He can be reached at edaniels@clarion herald.org.