When the Buffalo Bills hired Mike Pettine away from the New York...
Training Camp Experience: What To Expect?
Have you ever wondered what training camp is like? Have you ever gone and were unsure how to describe it?
St John Fisher College puts on quite the event. As you begin to head to camp (in your Bills paraphernalia, of course), you’ll notice that you have to park at a nearby high school, Pittsford Sutherland. This can get a bit tedious as you are just anxious to see the team you love. You then have to walk to the front of the location, where you have to get your wallet out and pay the “collection officer” $1 to load the big yellow school bus. This is an annoying necessity in order to get dropped off a few miles away in front of the entrance to training camp. Upon entering the bus you immediately notice the people on the bus with you are not as big of a fan as you are. I saw a few Walmart Takeo Spikes jerseys, a few cheap CJ Spiller fakes, and even a Larry Tripplet (oops).
As you unload the charter bus, you begin to walk toward the event taking place. You give the ticket barcode scanner guy your “free night practice ticket”, and precede to walk into this huge building. You are pretty unsure whether the building you are entering is the New York State Fair in Syracuse, or a product demonstration convention. As I was walking through this interesting temporary enclave, I was offered a chance to open a M&T checking account for a free autograph Buffalo Bills ball! After I made my way though the poachers, I was able to go into a Bills heaven. You see a wall full of jerseys, helmets, and balls. It’s an awesome scene for someone who loves to have new, fresh looking Bills products.
Finally, as I walked outside, I had a choice of food and refreshments. Tim Hortons was giving away timbits and iced coffees. There was also a pizza stand, burger place, and chicken fingers cart. At this point its literally like attending a minor league sports game.
You can pick your seats in the main stadium area, or on the other side of the stadium in bleacher seats. As you make you way to your seats, you have to fight throw a crowd of old people, kids playing football, and moms watching their kids as Daddy tries to catch a glimpse of the action.
There were many times throughout practice that people clapped for no reason – this is always a funny occurrence. I swear there was a time people clapped at a 35 yard punt, and some random downing the ball drill.
A thing to remember: This happens to be a family event, and an excuse for moderate fans to say that “I’ve seen the team this year”. If you think you are going to a diehard event, with diehard fans, then think again! There was one point I looked to Topher and said “you and I are smarter about the Bills, than this whole bus full of people combined”. He gently laughed, and agreed with the statement.
Tidbits: Do whatever you can to get a good view, and try to notice as many drills going on as you can. The people around you certainly will not help you stay on track. Lineup at the fence anywhere throughout the stadium toward the end of practice, you might just get a treat of an autograph. Last night I had great conversations with Stevie Johnson (talked about his rap album), Bryan Scott (laughed about Trent Edwards sucking, and some kid who wanted his chest signed), and Da’Norris Searcy.
Funniest camp moment: A guy tried to buy two pepsis from the girl carrying them in stands. However, instead of going down to her (20 feet below), he tried to figure out a way to throw the money down, and have her throw up the pepsis. Seriously? How lazy can you get? This was the same guy turned around talking to the people behind him the whole time. He did not pay attention at any point, and was representing his Aaron Schobel jersey.
Closing thoughts: Overall its’ a good event and a free way to get a look at your team this year. However, you have to fight a lot of the casual locals, and people just looking at the Bills as a “free event”. We all know come opening day at the Ralph, many of this “casual fans” will be cooped up in their living rooms yelling at Fitzpatrick to throw the ball deep.