For the first time since the NFL lockout began just more than a month ago, player development of the Green Bay Packers is being impacted.
"[Players] are not allowed in the facility, to use the facility, to have a relationship with the coach and the strength and conditioning coach," said former Packers wide receiver Don Beebe, "so that makes it very difficult for the guys that live in, say, Green Bay year-round.
"They have to find a location to work out."
That's where Beebe comes into play. Since helping the Packers win Super Bowl XXXI back in 1996, he now owns the Don Beebe House of Speed, a franchise of 21 workout facilities across the nation including one in Green Bay.
A trio of young players who make their offseason home in Green Bay––last year's first-round draft choice Bryan Bulaga, second-rounder Mike Neal and tight end Tom Crabtree––are staying in shape by using the services of the House of Speed.
"Going to the YMCA or Gold's Gym or something of that nature would give them weight training places," said Beebe, "but an athlete has to improve their power, conditioning and overall quickness and speed, and that's where you get places like House of Speed.
"We're just one of those avenues that players can go to keep up in that shape, because you never know when this thing is going to be resolved. Next thing you know, teams are going to be calling for 'You guys get in right away,' especially if this thing keeps going longer than they presumed. And you've got to be in shape. If you're not in shape, you're going to be out of a job, especially for borderline guys."
Thanks to an appearance in the Super Bowl, the Packers' 2010 season stretched longer than any other team in the NFL, along with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Knowing his players would need more time to recover from a grueling season than most other teams in the NFL, head coach Mike McCarthy said his offseason conditioning program would have started in mid-April.
That's later than the typical late March to early April time frame of years past when the Packers' season didn't stretch quite so long.
Now that mid-April has arrived, players are being prevented from taking part in the team's voluntary offseason conditioning program that would typically include weight training, conditioning and work with their individual position coaches.
While players can't work out at Lambeau Field, Beebe is happy to provide an outlet for a specialized workout regimen.
"If you can find places that you think is going to enhance your ability to make you a better athlete, that's where those guys are going to go," said Beebe. "Some of those are in-house and some of those are in other areas better at certain things.
"There's certain aspects of training an athlete's strength, flexibility, explosive power and quickness. And typically, not one is always the expert in one. So players try to find the expert in nutrition and mental training per se, and the House of Speed is one of those avenues to enhance an athlete's explosive power, quickness and speed."
Meanwhile, other players are spread out across the nation.
Safety Nick Collins is working out in his native Florida. And cornerback Tramon Williams is working out where his offseason home is in Texas.
"I'm actually out in Houston, that's where I stay at, with a guy named LeRoy Franklin, a guy I've been working out with since I've been in the league, and he's done a great job," Williams recently told Cheesehead TV. "If it's not broke, don't fix it, that's what I've been doing. I've done it last offseason and had a great season this year, so you kind of go off that superstition."
Meanwhile, a couple other Packers are working out together in Arizona in a collaborative environment.
"I'm actually working out with a few guys," said linebacker Desmond Bishop. "I'm actually working out with Charlie Peprah, Jarrett Bush in Arizona where I work out. I work out with Jermichael Finley. We get in together."
Until the labor uncertainty is resolved, working out on their own looks to be the status quo for NFL players.
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