Top Ten NFL Training Camps to Visit
Find Out Which NFL Training Camps You Should Attend This Summer
2014 NFL Off-Season
Now that it’s officially spring, we’re only a season away from training camp (can I get an amen?) If you’re anything like me, one of the highlights of your summer is watching your team practice for a day…or three…in August. If you don’t live anywhere near the team you cheer for, you might find yourself itching to attend a training camp that’s closer to your current residence. Today, we’ll take a look at the most fun training camps to attend around the country.
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
1. Tampa Bay really does training camp (they do have to appeal to fans somehow…let’s hope Lovie Smith and Co. can right the ship in 2014). Their unfortunate stretch of seasons aside, Buccaneers fans can spend part of July and August enjoying getting autographs from players, meeting cheerleaders and Captain Fear, and gorging themselves on discounted snacks and drinks in the merchandise area. The biggest event at Bucs’ training camp is a night practice during which coaches narrate, more players sign autographs, concession prices are deeply slashed, and fireworks are set-off.
2. The Washington Redskins, who hold their training camp in Williamsburg, VA, have one of the best facilities in the entire NFL. Fans can watch their favorite players prep for the season on one of two full-size fields or on a dedicated drill field. Furthermore, the ‘Skins took it upon themselves to include a two acre park, complete with a playground, a 500 seat viewing area, and a water wall, when they designed their new training structure.
3. Even though the Miami Dolphins dealt with their fair share of drama during the 2013 season, there’s no reason their training camp won’t be one of the best in the league again this summer (they are based in South Florida, y’all). The Dolphins allow fans to get autographs from certain players after every practice, have cheerleaders on-hand for photo ops, offer large-scale games for fans, and operate a silent auction that donates proceeds to the Miami Dolphins Foundation. Between football, helping a good cause, and soaking up the summer sun, Miami is a great training camp spot to hit.
4. The Green Bay Packers are one of the most storied clubs in the entirety of the NFL. It’s worth visiting their training camp for that fact alone. Training camp is also a chance to see your favorite Packers players without the bitter cold that often accompanies attending games at Lambeau Field once the season starts. Furthermore, the Pack holds the event about 2 hours from the Wisconsin Dells, so if you’re coming from out of state, you can make a family vacay out of it.
5. The Indianapolis Colts host entirely free practices throughout their training camp. This means that even the most cash-strapped Indy fans can get in on the action before the season starts. This training camp’s most enticing feature is a fan-zone called Colts City. Here, diehards can meet specific players, get their pictures taken with cheerleaders, jump in Colts-themed inflatables, and buy team gear. Indianapolis also hosts a special annual Kids’ Day in the Colts City area.
6.The New England Patriots hold their training camp on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium, so its an easy trek for fans in the region who already attend games regularly. There are a variety of activities available for fans who attend the event. GameON, a popular 2013 addition, is a pavilion where kids and adults alike can test their blocking, tackling, and throwing skills to see if they can rival their favorite players (hint: the answer is probably no).
7. The Dallas Cowboys, somewhat strangely, hold their training camp in Oxnard, California (though it does move back to the Big D mid-way through pre-season games). While they do have one of the most far-reaching fan bases in the league, it still makes it slightly challenging for Texas locals to watch their team prepare for the season (at least they can rest assured that it will be consistently mediocre). If you decide to go to Oxnard, you’ll get to enjoy performances by mascot Rowdy!, walking through informative Hall of Fame trailers, and meeting some of the world-famous Cowboys cheerleaders.
8. Steelers training camp is semi-open to the public; morning practices are closed, but afternoon and evening practices are free for fans to attend. Pittsburgh loyalists will not find any designated autograph tents, but they are more than welcome to stand and ask for players’ signatures after each practice. Most guys are happy to spend some time with the fans after they work out. If you attend this training camp, make sure you check out the Steelers Experience and the Traveling Great Hall. These are two annual highlights for most attendees.
9. While the Jacksonville Jaguars aren’t the NFL’s most illustrious team, their training camp is among the league’s most pleasant. They practice at their own facility, which is located in close proximity to Daytona Beach and Ormand Beach, which are both exceptional vacation destinations. In addition, Jacksonville’s players are usually incredibly good about hanging out after practice to talk to fans and sign autographs.
10. San Diego, which boasts amazing weather during the summer months, is another great place to visit an NFL training camp. The powers-that-be at the Chargers organization have worked hard to make their event a pleasant one for fans. Because there is very little parking around Chargers Park (where training camp actually occurs), for example, a free shuttle is provided from Qualcomm Stadium.