Welts and Whimsy
By Luke Sims
The Jaguars didn’t have regular OTA practice on Friday. Instead, head coach Mike Mularkey boarded the team on busses after stretching and sent them off to play paintball. He participated too, of course, and will probably be nursing some welts as punishment for things that will probably occur during the season.
Remember in grade school when the teacher would announce a field trip day? You’d run home with a sheet of paper to be signed by your parental figure, excitement in your eyes. The excitement wouldn’t die down until at least a week after the actual trip happened. My personal favorite was walking to the Minnesota Zoo. By walking you were guaranteed to miss the entire day in transportation (read: running around with your friends) and cool animals.
Mularkey did a similar thing with his paintball day this Friday. A team comprised of mostly 20 somethings got an opportunity to run around shooting each other with balls of paint from guns that could cause a welt to rise a solid two inches away from the skin. 20 somethings aren’t that far removed from grade school (trust me, I’m a good example), and I guarantee the excitement from their last OTA practice of 2012 will carry over to training camp.
Paintball, a sport of which I am very fond, is a wonderful way to get men to bond together. You either play some woodsball that constitutes some strategy in where you begin, what cover to take, and provides a bit more confusion on how the team is doing. Or you play some speedball that makes you heavily reliant on your other team members to move your unit forward, providing suppressive fire to pin down opponents and finally take them out. While I don’t know if the day was spent running through the woods hoping Rashad Jennings doesn’t injure his ankle or not, I know that the guys gained a few things from their day paintballing.
- A new sense of camaraderie that stretches beyond the football field.
- A new enjoyment of their head coach.
- The knowledge that the Jaguars reward hard work.
OTAs are not some light practicing in Jacksonville. They are high tempo drills designed to help the team understand the playbook. It is especially important to work hard when the team is installing a new offense. I’m not saying the offense is down pat, but it’s getting there. Sometimes, it’s important to have a whimsical afternoon rather than focusing more on trying to cram information into some kids’ brains when they get hardly no rest.
I’m a fan of the paintball afternoon in Jacksonville. I think the players enjoyed it, the coaches probably enjoyed it, and Mularkey managed to cement himself as an outside the box coach for the entirety of his tenure.
I just hope that nobody got hit hard enough to forget all of the plays he learned!
– Luke N. Sims