Training camp has changed a lot from the playing days of John Riggins, when camp used to run for six-eight weeks in Carlisle, Pa.
Back then, two-a-day practices were fully padded and full contact, seven days a week. How else could athletes prepare for the grind of an NFL season?
Standing on the sidelines at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center, Riggins grimaced thinking back on his training camp memories.
"Oh man, I didn't like it," he said. "It's funny, when they blew the whistle to end practice [today], I felt relieved even though I hadn't done anything except shake hands and smile."
While Riggins may personify old-school, smash-mouth football, he was no fan of the training camp practices of his time.
"Remember, it was a different era back then," he told Redskins Nation's Larry Michael. "As a running back, I got to slide on a lot of stuff. There was some hitting, but the guys up front, the Hogs, were the guys really going at it all the time. I just kind of hung back.
"Of course, when they got to the passing part of practice, I got to sit on the sidelines with my helmet. I would tell people if I caught a pass, something had gone drastically wrong."
Riggins, like Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan, has long advocated smarter training above harder training.
"I was talking to Coach Shanahan about what we went through compared to now. There's a pretty big different in the mindsets between then and now," he said. "Common sense is something you like to live by. Finally, I'm getting to see a little bit of it."
Despite the cringe-worthy memories of his own training camp, Riggins said he was excited to be at training camp, taking in practice the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center for the first time.
"You know what, it feels right," he said with a smile. "I had a good chance to talk to [Redskins owner] Dan [Snyder], and I got a good chance to talk to Mike [Shanahan] and [general manager] Bruce [Allen].
"It couldn't be better. They have a great facility down here."
It was also Riggins' first opportunity to see current Redskins star running back Alfred Morris in action, as a busy work schedule kept him away from TVs last season.
But that doesn't mean Riggins was unaware of Morris' historical rookie season, where he rushed for 1,613 yards on 335 carries, with 13 touchdowns.
"I didn't really get a chance to watch him play because I was travelling so much last year, but I got to see you guys do an interview with him, and I told him I felt like I've known him my entire life," he said. "[Morris] is clearly a guys who is very coachable and a guy who is always out there giving it his best shot."
Riggins, the Redskins' all-time leader in rushing yards (7,472), has never been concerned with his franchise marks and predicted that Morris had a very bright future.
"I think what he accomplished last season is nothing short of fantastic," Riggins said. "What he accomplished as a rookie, the fourth-most ever as a rookie, you know, the sky is the limit for him."
Riggo On The Range
When Riggins isn't in the public eye, he can usually be found in the great outdoors—if he can be found at all.
But thanks to his newest outdoors show, Riggo On The Range, Comcast viewers will have a chance to follow Riggins as he leads his friends and former teammates on wild adventures in the Riggins RV.
"That's who I am. I mean, let's face it, that's not much of a stretch for me," he said of the show's simple principles. "I kind of tell people about the show that it's actually a cooking show, because I love to cook, and I think wild game is one of the most delicious things you can eat.
"We shop in the national forests. We don't go down to the supermarket. It's all about the socialization of the hunt or fishing trip where you have a good time. You still bring back something for the family and friends and still get that social part of it."
"I'd like to thank them for letting me broadcast to my home fans. This whole area, these are my guys in this D.C.-area and Virginia and Maryland."