NFL Training Camps are boring. There, I said it. The MLB forms two leagues in early spring, transports its teams down to Florida and Arizona, and then plays multiple games all within driving distance of one another. What does the NFL do? Many teams hold their training camps at their own stadiums. But a few actually go the distance to train in faraway, off-the-beaten-path destinations.
New York Jets – SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex
Take the New York Jets, for example. Even though they are based in New Jersey (not New York, as their name indicates), they travel all the way to SUNY Cortland, in New York. That’s a whole eight-hour drive…north (wrong way, boys, it’s colder in that direction!). The team draws more than 41,000 spectators to the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex, and the intimate atmosphere allows for autographs, fan activities, and merchandise from a Jets tent. (Update! The Jets will be holding this year’s training camp at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, N.J.)
Oakland Raiders – Napa Valley Marriott
Of course, the Jets don’t take the cake for “oddest NFL training camp location.” That might go to the Oakland Raiders who have been holding training camp at the Napa Valley Marriott since 1995. (And they wonder why they haven’t won a Super Bowl since 1983?) This unique setting offers meeting rooms named after types of wine and a middle school out the back with two practice fields for the team to use. And after a long day on the field, who wouldn’t want to open a bottle of Napa’s finest and relax? The Raiders can do just that in the heart of California’s wine country.
New Orleans Saints – The Greenbrier
Hold on there, Napa Valley Marriott. We have another contender for the title! The Greenbrier®, America’s Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia is a National Historic Landmark, and has welcomed distinguish guests since 1778. Those guests include the New Orleans Saints and their fans. Practices are open to fans, and following each one, the players will sign autographs. And if you want to stay in the same hotel as the team, the Greenbrier® does offer special rates for Saints’ fans. (Try to refrain from calling every room in hopes of talking to your favorite player).
Dallas Cowboys – City of Oxnard Fields
Okay, now we’re getting somewhere! The Dallas Cowboys hold their training camp at the City of Oxnard Fields in California, about 30 miles west of…Los Angeles!? (Does California have an unusually large number of Cowboy fans?) Training camp is free, and this year, there will be a Kids Zone with live performances from the team mascot, Rowdy. Also, there will be live broadcasts from the players and coaches as well as team trucks, merchandise, and Hall of Fame trailers. Don’t miss out on fan events and other fun activities.
And, of course, if you’re a fan of the International Series, you can always head over to London in October and November to see your favorite team play in Europe during the real season.
Don’t see your team here? The check out this complete list of NFL Training Camps to find where your team holds its annual summer practices.
By Susie Reese