How to survive NFL training camp

Jul 21, 2013; Davie, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) after catching a pass during training camp at the Doctors Hospital Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 21, 2013; Davie, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) after catching a pass during training camp at the Doctors Hospital Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports /

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By day, I’m awaiting my third surgery on my left leg from a wicked hit and run accident caused by man’s only predator, the hybrid vehicle.

At night, I also await surgery. My Fantastico days are on temporary furlough as a team of medical experts attempt to put me back together like the world’s foremost kick-ass puzzle.

And today, I’m here to answer your questions about survival.

It’s been a rough week, dudes, there’s no two ways about it. With so many pins and plates in my left leg, the surgeries to repair my broken twig have had to be spread out over the course of a week or so. Some parts of my leg have basically exploded into a million little pieces. My doctor described my leg as a “Frozen Charleston Chew that has been shattered.” But he ensured me that my candy leg would be as good as new in a few years.

So they can rebuild me. They have the technology. It’s just going to take a while.

Meanwhile, it’s been a shit ton of TV, pain medication, and looking out the window. By the way, daytime TV is the pits. Man alive, I had no idea there was so much awful programming. What happened to all the game shows and cartoons and shit? It’s all weird self-improvement talk shows. And court room shows about hair salons and Jeopardy.  Sweet, sweet, Jeopardy.

Keeping on the TV tip, I just don’t know what credentials Steve Harvey has that makes him a viable advice giver. Sure, he’s got a nice mustache and he once lived in his car. But is he really qualified to help someone get there groove back? Or make someone’s hair sexier? Probably not. He’s pretty much the definition of bald. And unless someone’s groove involves hosting the Family Feud and wearing enormous suits, I just don’t see it.  O, and thank the sweet lord for the Family Feud as well. Game shows, dudes–get up on it.

There are a few cable channels here. ESPN, A&E, and the Country Music Television channel. Duck Dynasty and Storage Wars are the best. I’ve basically seen every episode though. CMT is just weird. Every video is the same. Some guy in a cowboy hat gets in a truck, goes driving past pretty girls in order to get to a party, then happens to start playing guitar at the party. All the while every one is laughing and having fun spraying water on each other. People crushing brews and getting messed up. The sun goes down and then they all dance around a fire pit. The end. Like on a continuous loop.

ESPN is what it is. I like it when they show a game or just highlights. But when it’s like four bros just sitting around talking about Ryan Braun’s legacy for 30 minutes? No thanks, dudes. No offense to the Bro Jacksons and the Fansided Fellas, but shit man, people who talk about sports all the time, obviously sucked at it as youths. To me it’s like a hamburger. I don’t want to know how the hamburger got to my plate, or what it does to my body or where it goes after I flush it away in the toilet. I know I like the hamburger and I don’t need to know all the other crap that goes with it. I’m too busy watching Kung Fu.

Plus, I was like all state in like six different sports, but I didn’t want to go pro because it’s a big hassle. So, you know.

I realize I’ve droned on about TV for a while now, but that’s all I have really. That and the window. Some do-gooder probably thought it would be a great idea to put a park of playing children outside a hospital window. He was wrong. It’s a constant reminder to me about how awesome my life and legs were when I was a kid. Now they both kinda suck.  I think it’s the morphine that is making me sad.

Now I’m at a crossroads. Get busy living or get busy dying. I plan on busying myself with living. But, still, those kids and the morphine make it tough some days.

On to your letters:

"Dear Fantastico,First off, I hope you heal quickly buddy. I’m a huge fan and it sucks to see a soldier for good go down.I’m a huge Kansas City Chiefs fan and cannot wait for the season to start. The Royals let me down for the millionth time, so I’m even fired up for the pre-season camp. My question to you is, how does one survive an NFL training camp? From what I’ve read it is truly a brutal experience.Thanks, and get better dammit!  Haha,Sam Stevenson"

Sammy! Thanks for the well wishes. It’s fans like you that help me keep on keeping on.  Now, I’ve never been to an NFL training camp, because as I’ve stated before, I just didn’t want to deal with all of it as a blue chip prospect. I am, however, as plugged into the NFL as I have ever been due to the bed rest. Hell, training camp just started, did you know that? Let’s look at some key ingredients to surviving training camp.

DON’T SHOW UP A GIANT FATTY. Sure, we all could stand to loose a bit of weight. It’s America after all. Even though working out sucks, working out isn’t really going to kill us. It just feels like it will. Unless you are a biggun’. Then it can be possibly fatal. So go ahead and do some calisthenics and lay off the nutty bars the week leading up to camp. You never see children die from working out.  It’s because they are minis.

DRINK PLENTY OF WATER. Dehydration can make some of your vital organs act in mysterious ways. I was asking the doctor about my all beef jerky and Diet Dew diet and he said I could get dangerously dehydrated I didn’t mix in a glass of water or a vegetable here and there. They hold some of these camps in the hottest fucking places on the planet. You can get dehydrated real quick in the sun, so at the very least these football players should down a Diet Dew in order to grease their muscles. It’s just how sciences work.

CARRY A KNIFE IN YOUR SOCK. Some of these players are dangerous on the field but also dangerous off the field. I don’t know if you’ve heard about this Aaron Hernandez guy, but if you haven’t, you will. Apparently he killed a guy for talking bad about him at a party. That’s it. Party foul turned murdertown. So these guys are big mean and some of them kill people. I’m all for a preemptive strike.  Day one of camp, pick out the weakest of the team (probably a kicker), and stab him up a bit (not in the leg if it’s a kicker, that’s his moneymaker). It lets the other players know that you’re not to be trifled with.

IF YOU ARE GETTING HIT TOO HARD, LET COACH KNOW. A coach wants to know everything that is going on at all times. There is no better way to help out your mentor than to let him know that another player is hitting you too hard. Possibly even ask for a red jersey if you don’t like getting hit. The goal is to be as good as you can be in the regular season. Constantly getting hit can hurt your chances of surviving camp. This is a big one for offensive linemen.

FAKE A FEW INJURIES. This will buy you a few days of playing X-Box in your dorm room. I do this at my job on occasion and it totally helps recharge the batteries. And since football is such a contact sport any injury will suffice. I’ve used injuries to pets as another way to get out of work. This should work as well.  After four-to-five days of hard work in a row, go ahead and treat yourself to a day off. Tell them your ear hurts and go buy a 30-pack of Strohs. You’ve earned it, playboy.

PLAY QUARTERBACK. These guys get the girls and they do not take part in the contact during training camp. An easy way to do this is to speak up when the coach is assigning positions on the first day. Sometimes a coach won’t ask, but just show the initiative of a true born leader and start lining up as quarterback. A well placed, “Hey coach, I’ll be quarterback this year” goes a long way to ensuring longevity in the league and in life.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO CRY. I’ve used this a few times in various jobs over the years. When a grown man cries in front of another grown man, you can pretty much do whatever you want after that. Don’t worry what your teammates think.  The other players will respect your honesty in the moment. The tears have to be legit though. Fake crying is for losers and punks. Legit tears can get you out of a hard workout if you fear for your safety.

OR BE A KICKER.  These fucking guys.  Layabouts that come into pressure filled spots with billions of dollars hanging in the balance of their little tiny European feet.  But you know what.  They stick around.  Forever.  Some of these guys have twenty year careers.  Average NFL career is less then three years.  Do the math, mate.  Eighteen bonus years of checks.  Plus they don’t have to do anything at camp.  Sure none of the other players like them and they get all the re-tread ladies at the club, but you know who survives training camp every year?  Those thunderfooted Euros do.  NOTE: If you are a kicker, carry a gun in your sock.  Other players will always try to make an example out of you.  I suggest shooting up the punter on the first day to make yourself dangerous.

There you go. Fantastico’s survival tips to a NFL training camp. This is a guideline, not a manual, people.You’ll also have to use some of your innate cunning and guile in order to make it through a NFL training camp in an exotic locale like Bourbonnais, IL.

If, God forbid, you’ve get the feeling like they are going to cut you from the team, go ahead and just let it happen. There are 32 teams out there. Plenty of chances to pick up somewhere else. Plus, you’ve already shaved off that many days of training camp. You’ll be fine. You’re an all-star, hey now, get your game on.

Until next time–stay safe out there, dammit.