The Oakland Raiders held their 10th practice of Training Camp 2013, presented by California National Guard. The Silver and Black practiced in full pads with only four days until the first preseason game.
“It was intense,” said FB Jamize Olawale on today’s practice. “It tested your state of mind. It’s about going out there and giving 100 percent even though you’re banged up.”
Many of the players have been through training camps before and are used to the non-stop grind. “Camp is camp. Training camp is training camp,” said LB Omar Gaither. “I think it’s been going well. Learned a lot of the system last year, retained a lot of that, so that’s helped me a lot in the first few weeks. I think it’s going well.”
“It’s going well,” said CB Joselio Hanson. “It’s tough like camp always is, but we’re fighting through. It makes you better in the end.”
The guys understand that the training camp struggle – soreness, mentally tired, monotony – all eventually translates to success on the field. “Really it’s just mental, knowing that while it’s kind of a drag now, the work you put in is what allows you to be good during the season,” said P Chris Kluwe. “So, really, you have to take the time now to make sure that the reps you’re getting are good ones because you’re not going to get a whole lot of them. Then they start counting for real.”
To keep the players fresh and motivated, the Raiders coaching staff invited Teddy Atlas, a boxing trainer and fight commentator, to speak during a team meeting. Atlas has worked with Mike Tyson and Michael Moorer and is currently a commentator on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights. He has also covered boxing at the Olympic Games since 2000. Atlas’ son, who is also named Teddy, is the Raiders scouting coordinator.
Each player took something different and significant from Atlas’ speech.
“It was a really good talk. He was essentially telling us a lot of knockouts, both in boxing and in the real world, are people just giving up, not fighting through, not working their hardest to keep going,” said Kluwe. “He described it as they go into this gray room and you’re in there and you have a choice, you either keep going down that gray path into darkness or you can say, ‘No, I’m not going to stand for it, I’m going to stand up and fight.’ I think that’s something that a lot of guys took really well.”
Kluwe believed Atlas’ message was to seize every moment whether on the field or in life. “It’s really about taking advantage of the opportunities you have, especially with football because you don’t really get a whole lot of opportunities,” said Kluwe. “You can’t succumb. You can’t say, ‘Okay, I’m feeling kind of off this play, so I’m going to take it easy. I’m not going to give 100 percent effort.’ You have to be able to fight through that and say, ‘Every play could be my last play, so I’m going to approach it with just as much intensity as I would approach any other one.’”
Olawale, meanwhile, related Atlas’ talk to the concept of good and evil, fear or no fear. “The message that I personally took away from it, and it was a fantastic talk, is basically choosing between good and evil,” Olawale explained. “He talked about fear and how it’s natural to have fear and that plays out on the field. If you’re afraid, it’s going to show in how you play. For me it’s about you’re either afraid and you’re choosing to do bad, or you’re choosing to do good. Every play is a choice. You can choose to be afraid or you can choose not to be afraid.”
Hanson’s takeaway was simple, “He just said, ‘No excuses. Don’t go out there and try to survive. You have to go out there and try to win.’ That’s what I took from it and that’s a big statement for me,” said Hanson.
DE Jack Crawford was particularly moved by Atlas’ messages. “Actually, I spoke to him again today and I just told him that I found his speech was one of the best speeches I’ve heard. I think it was really effective,” said Crawford. “You kind of go through life, especially in sports, people tell you why you messed up on a certain play. For boxing, they tell them why they got knocked out. You go over tape and you talk about the mistakes you made. When you’re playing football, you’re taught certain techniques and you know the technique, but it doesn’t really give an explanation to why you decided to take the wrong step, why you decided to jump off-sides.
“He really touched down on why athletes, or anyone given a certain situation, make mistakes. It’s the instinct of survival. That was his strongest point was to be aware of it. It’s the instinct of survival which sometimes hampers your ability to go and make a play or to do something successful to help the team.”
Crawford was able to use the message to understand why he may be making mistakes on the field. “Why is it that you can do something 100 times in practice and you mess up in the game?” said Crawford. “It’s because you want to cover yourself and the instincts of survival jump in at high pressure situations to stop you that tells you, ‘do this to cover yourself.’ Usually your instinct of survival comes up at the wrong time and it causes you to make a mistake in a high pressure situation.”
The second-year defensive end asked Atlas today how to combat the instincts of survival. “One of the things he said is that, ‘Now you’re aware of it, you have to learn how to control it,’” explained Crawford. “He compared everything to boxing because it’s a one-on-one in a very high-pressure situation so now that you’re aware that your survival instincts are jumping in, in high-pressure situations, you have to understand that and comprehend that it’s your survival instincts, if you can control it, it can help you relax.”
Crawford, as well as his teammates, left the team meeting with a new perspective on football. “I’d never heard that point of view before,” said Crawford. “What he mentioned, the fact that his track record in the boxing world is so great, it translates over to the football field. I think there’s a lot of merit in what he said.”
Atlas’ words resonated with the players and were repeated throughout the evening and all day today. “I think we’re going to go out there and be a better team because of that speech,” said Hanson.
Now, the Raiders need to put into action the things they learned in Atlas’ presentation. “I think the guys on this team are really what are going to make this a good season for us,” said Gaither. “I think we do have the right kind of guys, have high-character guys, guys that know how to work, guys that know how to win, so it was great having him here to talk to us, but it’s up to us to implement it.”
The players have Tuesday off and will return to the practice field Wednesday afternoon. Continue to log on to Raiders.com every day for complete coverage of your Silver and Black.
Tags: Boxing, Chris Kluwe, Football, Jack Crawford, Jamize Olawale, Joselio Hanson, Oakland Raiders, Omar Gaither, Teddy Atlas, Training Camp
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