Cowboys, Saints will start training next week.
By Scott Ferrell
If the temperatures are in the high 90s that can mean only one thing -- the start of NFL training camps.
The New England Patriots are the first to report today at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. The Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins, under former LSU coach Nick Saban, report on Sunday. The New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys report next week.
The Saints and Cowboys symbolize the different approaches NFL teams take to training camp.
The Saints will work out at their practice facility in Metairie while the Cowboys will travel to Oxnard, Calif., to work out.
Almost half of the NFL teams (15 of 32) will practice at their own facility. That number is up from just 20 percent (6 of 30) in 1995.
In the Saints' case, they returned to Louisiana in 2000 to work out at Nicholls State University. Their first year in Thibodaux resulted in direct spending of $1.4 million and total spending of more than $1.6 million.
The Saints moved their camp to Metairie in 2003.
On the other side of the equation is the Dallas Cowboys, a team that held training camp in Thousand Oaks, Calif., from 1963 to 1989, then moved the camp to Austin, Texas; Wichita Falls, Texas; and finally Oxnard.
The Cowboys' philosophy falls under the more traditional kind.
"I think camps away from home are a necessity,'' said Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher, who will take his team to train at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa. "If you eliminate distractions and bring players closer, the better chance you're going to have of evaluating and making decisions.''
And training camp may be more important than most fans think.
NFL research showed the past 10 Super Bowl champions had combined for 28-14 (.667) preseason records.
The financial aspect aside, I agree.
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