NFL lockout ending? Gauge the yelling.
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HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Now that negotiators for the NFL owners and players have pretty much stopped yelling at each other, now that this senseless lockout finally seems to be winding down, we're that much closer to the return of a different sort of yelling.
The more traditional form, you might say.
Coaches yelling at players.
On the field. In the weight room.
Loudly. Publicly. Daily.
Dolphins wide receiver Davone Bess, overseeing a 3-on-3 charity basketball tournament to benefit his Bess Route Foundation, smiled Saturday when I reminded him he really hasn't been yelled at since the end of the 2010 regular season.
"Quite frankly, we kind of miss it," Bess said in the blazing-hot parking lot at Seminole Hard Rock. "We'll get a rude awakening real quick when we get back."
Bess and the rest of the Dolphins have been enjoying a rare form of peace and quiet the past 6½ months, a period that's about to come crashing down as soon as training camps open.
On time, it now appears.
Oh, sure, most NFL players have been keeping themselves in top shape during the four-month lockout, whether through grueling workouts with their personal trainers or via player-organized sessions.
Panthers wide receiver David Clowney pointed out his two-a-day workouts have occupied him five days a week.
"We're all still working hard, we all still push each other," Clowney said. "Whether the coaches are there or not, we all still have the work ethic to make sure we're in shape and get the job done the right way."
Maybe so, but there's a big difference between getting urged on by your peers, whether current teammates or respected opponents, and hearing the shrill anger of a middle-aged man in coach's shorts.
As Bess can attest, you haven't really been yelled at until you've been yelled at by Tony Sparano.
The Dolphins' coach has that piercing, sarcastic voice that can knock a wayward player back on track in a hurry. And he's hardly the only voice of, er, reason that's been resting up throughout this dry period.
Just imagine the withdrawal all these coaches have been going through without a team to motivate.
Woe unto the telemarketer who unsuspectingly interrupts the dinner hour of a pro coach during this lockout.
Not sure who wants this thing to end more, the television networks or the families (and pets) of bored, pent-up NFL coaches.
"I think I've been coached by just about every type of coach," said Giants safety Antrel Rolle. "Coaches that yell and scream. Coaches that would just look at you and you know exactly what he means. Coaches that want to sit down and talk with you."
His current head coach, Tom Coughlin, comes from the same school that produced Sparano's hard-driving style.
"I think I get yelled at way too much, to be honest with you," Rolle said with a laugh. "I'm definitely not missing that sound."
Yet the fact remains, all these personal trainers work for the players, not the other way around. If a trainer pushes too far or says the wrong thing, it's always possible he'll be working with one fewer client the next day.
Not so in the team-run weight room.
Nor, by extension, on the field or in the meeting rooms of a pro football facility.
"There's nothing like a coach really getting after you," Wright said. "It makes you the player that you are. It shows the coaches care about what you do."
That rude awakening is right around the corner.