Training Camp Arrivals Should Be Grateful

July 19th, 2022

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Buc players who complain about the rigors of training camp need to gain some perspective by chatting with Ricky Reynolds.

It was 35 years ago when Reynolds, a second-round draft pick out of Washington State, reported to Camp Perkins at the University of Tampa. In his three years at Pullman, Wash., Reynolds was used to practicing in a region where the average August high is 84, with morning lows in the 50s.

Former Bucs cornerback Ricky Reynolds, who hauled in 17 interceptions before moving on to Bill Parcells’ Patriots.

Ray Perkins, who played for Bear Bryant at Alabama, was starting his first season as Tampa Bay’s coach. Despite the searing heat, he worked Buc players long and hard, often to the point of exhaustion.

“It was a huge shock because all I heard from some of the former players at Washington State was how it’s much more laid back in the NFL,” Reynolds says. “They told me training camp is O.K., plenty of days with just helmets and jerseys. I didn’t get any of that stuff.

“We had 3-a-day practices and we were out there killing each other. When we went 7-on-7, it turned into a scrimmage. It was crazy — something I definitely wasn’t prepared for. We were at UT, so let’s talk about the facilities. You’re coming from college, figuring you’re going to upgrade by going to the NFL, but it was a step down going to Tampa.”

You could feel Reynolds wincing over the telephone as he described a typical day back in the summer of ’87.

“They bang on your door maybe 6 a.m., trying to wake everybody up for a practice from 8-10,” he says. “You get dressed, go to the chow hall and have your breakfast. Then you go get your ankles taped, get dressed and try to stretch. You go through full pads in the morning, then go in and cool down for a little bit, take the pads off and I believe we came out with just helmets and shoulder pads for the next practice. We did an hour of mostly special teams.

“Then you go in, shower up and go for lunch and maybe take a nap. The third practice was in the late afternoon. The sun’s beating down on you and most of that practice was geared toward passing, a half-shell practice. It might have been 90 minutes or two hours. There was water available, but there definitely wasn’t any shade, no fans blowing on you or a tent to cool down. You just bake and go through it.”

Lousy weather offered little relief.

“You practice in the rain unless it’s lightning,” he says. “There were times we went into the basketball gym for a walk-through. One day, Coach Perkins ran the stew out of us on the basketball court. We must have run 40-yard sprints about 40 times.”

“This is what you call Camp Cupcake, Kyle.”

What about those plush accommodations?

“We were in dorms, two to a dorm room,” says Reynolds. “The dorm smelled like mildew and they weren’t in great condition. I want to say that maybe in the fourth year we may have not had the 3-a-days. He kind of backed off a bit.”

Those Bucs weren’t very talented, so Perkins looked for an edge by striving to be the best-conditioned team in the NFL.

“That was his goal, to be in great shape and ready at the start of the season,” says Reynolds. “I admit we were ready to go, but we would also break down, with a lot of guys getting hurt. To be honest, at times it was easier to play in the game than it was to practice. Today’s Buc players have no idea how good they have it. You literally felt like a zombie after the nap. It was like you were sleepwalking, you were that exhausted. Your body was just gone.”

Players were frustrated, but Perkins had a way of quelling dissent.

“I think there were a couple of guys who tried to talk to him,” Reynolds says, “but right in the beginning he got rid of a lot of veterans. If you came in complaining, he didn’t hesitate.”

When Perkins was fired late in the 1990 season, there was hope for a more forgiving training camp if interim Richard Williamson got the permanent job.

“Everyone thought Coach Williamson would change things up, so everyone lobbied for him,” Reynolds says. “But he came in and sounded just like Ray Perkins.”

All these years later, Reynolds has profound respect for Buc teammates who persevered.

“You start thinking about what you went through and what it took to withstand those practices and make it through the season,” he says. “I remember being in great shape, playing well at the start and then guys would go down with pulled muscles. I’ll never forget it. Guys were breaking down because their body was just worn out.”

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Enjoy Monday’s Ira Kaufman Podcast. … …

Ira Kaufman Talks Unique Todd Bowles Pressure, Training Camp Fashion, Altered Prep For Lavonte David, And More

23 Responses to “Training Camp Arrivals Should Be Grateful”

  1. '79 Defense Says:

    There was some excitement in Tampa when Culverhouse’s “Vince Lombardi” arrived , but Perkins never had any success. 19-41 and never won more than five games in a season.

    Hearing Reynolds describe those camps, it sounds horrible.

  2. Smashsquatch Says:

    Thanks Ira, nice interview. Awesome insight from Ricky Reynolds.

  3. stpetebucsfan Says:

    Physical conditioning has changed LIGHT YEARS since those days. That was an absurd schedule. Yeah you could find out the tough nuts who could survive but their bodies had to be wasted.

    The last article in Men’s Health I read was about a UFC boxer who started fading from his Championship days. His physical people checked him and said he needed to back off and utilize some R&R. He was overtraining. He slowed down and his performances picked up once again.

    Overtraining is just as bad as undertraining.

  4. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Oh, how times have changed, in so many, many ways….

  5. D-Rok Says:

    This depiction sounds brutal.

  6. CleanHouse Says:

    I remember when they fired Ray Perkins. The next game was against the Vikings with Williamson installed as the interim coach. We won that game in a surprising fashion and the players were doing crazy touchdown celebrations in the end zone like a weight had finally been lifted. They had fun that game!! It was really exciting and cool because we actually got onto the sportscenter highlight reel. That’s how bad we were. They would omit our highlights completely most weeks. This is why I have Bucs PTSD.

    Ricky Reynolds was the man and a pure joy to watch. Wayne Haddix another great DB too! Had 7 picks one year. But Rickey Reynold was our best defender until Hardy Nickerson arrived. That guy was a pure beast.

  7. August 1976 Buc Says:

    The highlight of the Ray Perkins era was the first game. Week 1 1987, Steve Deberg led the Bucs to a 27-3 lead and won 48-10, seal clubbing beatdown. Great start, lol But it was all downhill from there lol

    Sad era for Bucs fans, it was during the first “Lost Decade+ 1983-1996″

    The Atlanta game is Like Ricky said they were ready after those 3 a day practices, but the exhaustion is going to kick in sooner or later, and we all endured the garbage football that came with exhaustion.

    They need to make a ‘Real American Heroes” commercial for Bucs fans of that era. “Hey there Fans of the losingest team of the Decade, we salute you” lol That piece of garbage they call a football team, and you support them, lol we salute you” lol

    Thankful for this current Bucs era.

    GO BUCS!!!!

  8. SB~LV Says:

    I used to park my pickup along the fence and stand in the bed and watch those practices. The locker room offices and whatever else was no bigger than a high school football facility. The weight room was half outside on a concrete slab.

  9. CleanHouse Says:

    Joe, why did you delete my very nice, informative post?

  10. Defense Rules Says:

    Great piece Ira. Thanks.

    Reynolds description of that early camp reminded me of the stories I’ve heard about Bear Bryant & The Junction Boys when The Bear started coaching at Texas A&M in 1954. Perkins wasn’t one of those boys, but Gene Stallings was there. He had a great line about that training camp: ‘All I know is we went out there in two buses and came back in one’.

    Can’t imagine going through a camp like that one. Temps over 100 degrees & it’s said that Bear didn’t allow any water breaks. He was quoted as saying that ‘he wanted to separate the quitters from the keepers’. They were all in fantastic shape I’m sure, but Texas A&M did go 1-9 that year. Bear’s only losing season. Wow.

  11. Dewey Selmon Says:

    Very nice article. Us fans were broken down too lol.

  12. BucsfanFred Says:

    I had to listen to that Atlanta game on the radio. Filled me with great hope. False hope.

  13. OBVIOUS Says:

    I gotta say. I get it. I do that on a daily bases. The heat is unforgiving and the humidity simply HATES YOUR GUTS! To death!
    I manage a mechanical shop as well as new and used tire store. We are a extremely high volume, privately owned shop and we move at a privately owned pace. We Hussle! It doesn’t for instance, take us an hour to put “a tire” on. No Sir. We get that done in minutes! There is NO inside work facilities. To be honest, we do have the luxury of a somewhat shaded covering though there is no guarantee that any of us will be afforded that luxury. Simply because there are many times that for instance a trailer being towed by a large truck cannot fit. Or the bays are just full to capacity and we are forced into the full blown, 100%, life sucking, and as I mentioned above “UNFORGIVING” heat. It takes a man’s, man to do this job. Even in the shade most days it’s over 100 degrees. Because it IS!! The soft just need not apply.
    This is not just a story to sound tough or to pat myself on the back. It’s mine and my crews job. We deal with that 7 days a week. And for me, sometimes it is actually 7 days a week as the manager. So I respect and can appreciate from my sweat soaked heart, “What It Takes”. Needless to say that none of us are over weight and to be honest, it’s not a young crew. The truth is that this and it sometimes seems, a couple before generations, simply ISN’T willing to do a man’s job. And hey, I get it’s generally a thankless job and for most customers I don’t think it’s a meant slight. They simply don’t understand What It Takes. They of course have the option of relaxing in the office where the AC is generous. “Some” simply don’t get that they are JUST VISITING the Florida Sun and the Mega Heat coupled with what’s fair to say is “ROTISSERIE” level Humidity that seemingly wants to suck the life right out of you day in and day out. It WILL kill you! Just ask 1000 Brits in jolly old England. (Well I guess you can’t since they are now dead) THAT’S how Serious it really is…..

    And you know what, we aren’t making Millions of dollars to Make Sure that not only are you OK, but in fact that you’re safe. And you know what else? We do it with a smile.

    So yes. My heart goes out to the guys of the past that “used to” endure it for your viewing pleasure. Oh I apologize I stated that incorrectly. Let me rephrase. My heart goes out to the guys that go out for a few hours a day for Multiple Millions of Dollars “for half of a years, sort of work” but I’m not going to be crying for the “Bit” of a tough workout in their ripe old age of 20 something.
    Then again, if I didn’t at least get water, THERE WOULD BE AN ISSUE FROM A VERY HARDENED AND PIED OFF “MAN!”

    So with that said, make sure to at the minimum appreciate those guys when you pull into one of those shops and maybe even see your way to a tip and a appreciative smile for that poor bastard that’s enduring that Hell out there FOR YOU Because Believe You, Me… They Earned It!
    Tighten Up Butter Cup!

    Took a Nap…. THAT’S CUTE!
    GO BUCS!

  14. Bellingham Bucs Fan Says:

    Love hearing from RR. As a kid I always thought it was weird that he wasn’t on a real NFL team. Same with James Wilder. Bucs PTSD is real.

  15. BucUToo Says:

    @Obvious….sounds tough. I used to be a roofer here in Tampa. That cool shade must be nice. Anyone who has to work outside in this Florida heat is definitely earning their paycheck. Shade or not. Those 3 a days were not joke I’m sure.

  16. Razor Ramone Says:

    124 degrees in the mail truck.

  17. mark2001 Says:

    A roofer in Tampa? Not to be sacrilegious, but I thought if they wanted to call anyone up on Sunday to testify about how hot it must feel in Hell, I thought a Florida roofer would be a prime candidate. For most of the year, I don’t know how you guys can do it.

  18. Buc1987 Says:

    The Ray Perkins era… ahhh when I became a Bucs fan 1987.

    Vinny and Ray days.

  19. OBVIOUS Says:

    Yeah BucU,
    I’m sure they were tough for a couple of hours here and there at 3 seperate times a day in those 3 long days. But I gotta tell you I’d trade 90 minute to up to 2 hour sprints in the blazing sun with cool showers and naps in a New York minute for what I do for 10 hours a day with a 30 minute lunch for usually 6 days a week and sometimes seven. I’m pretty sure I mentioned that the business is privately owned and what that means is that the work is done at a high pace and non stop All Day Long. It’s not run at a corporate pace. Which is very much like a government pace. It also turns out that I know just what you mean about roofing here in Florida because we also owned a construction company for many years as well as a roofing company for another 7 before we sold that.
    There is one thing I’m a little jealous of considering you worked on the coast. Well let me take that back. 2 things. I’m in Orlando so we’re on the same latitude and the heat is equal. But the 2 things I’m jealous of are for one is the views you must have seen on the water when you got those jobs. We have lots of lakes but it’s just not the same as that ocean view. With that said, the Number 1 thing I’m jealous of was that Ocean Breeze you got to enjoy. NOW THAT’S A BONUS! Even a few miles inland that breeze is Very Nice. Unfortunately, we didn’t have that. Except when I lived in the V.I. I admit I sure soaked it in on the islands. Regardless, I’d rather have the option of the shade when I could get it versus being back on that roof.. Breeze or not! And at the time, I was in my 20’s. It really wasn’t that bad then. Sure it was hot as hell but it didn’t stop any of us day in and day out. Nope, like I said, I’d trade the schedule I had in my 20’s for the schedule they had in their’s FAST! I know it seems tough but you get used to the heat. The Difference is……. Most of those guys were coming from up north. They never in their lives experienced heat like this any more than a week of spring break. THAT’S the actual difference. I grew up in it. I can take it. In fact I’m, I kid you not, right at this moment I’m standing outside in a sweater. No joke. I’m as much lizard as I am human. Now on the other hand when I went up north and and I felt that COLD, I thought I was going to die in a holiday Inn parking lot 15 feet away from my car because I was locked in place, shaking uncontrollably, teeth Banging together non stop, and I just couldn’t move! The monster had me! I was 18 when that experience happened. That was in Buffalo NY IN THE SPRING! (I had on shorts and a tank top) With the roles reversed the out come though very different was similar in a sense. So I get it. BUT….
    The perspective here is tough verses not… That’s the measurement. Did I get out of the car and get on with it? (30 minutes later) Yep.. I had beautiful Canadian women that were waiting on me and I wasn’t going to be missing out on that! (it was actually warmer in Canada!)
    Anyways, fun to talk about but in the end you could be a Multi Millionaire if you can tough it out for 3 “Part Time” days a week with Showers, Naps in the middle of the day, Room and Board, with All the food you can eat!

    LIKE I SAID BEFORE, TOUGHEN UP BUTTER CUP! Or, go work for minimum wage at Best Buy. You choose.

  20. KYBUCFAN Says:


    Thank you for ruining the rest of the comments for me… I just can’t bring myself to finish reading your long a** drawn out sob story about what you sand the crew had to do to make a living let alone read ANYTHING else after that…

  21. OBVIOUS Says:

    Well KY, you sound like a soft kind of guy. And with your Pronounced declaration of what you do with your time “KY” my unappreciative fellow Definitely says it Al about you….. I’m laughing at You Nancy/KY. Though I do feel sorry that long and big words are hard for you to swallow. Let’s just say I feel the same about you.
    You CLEARLY don’t appreciate what it takes to make your life livable for people like yourself. But then again, not everyone can take it hot or cold.

    Since all that you “handle” is short with your KY, I’ll leave it at that.
    Here’s to the Men that get it done all over the world. Seems the (libs?) just Don’t like it when men are around. I guess I’d feel sensitive after a sex change to. All those hormones and such.
    GO BUCS!

  22. Buczilla Says:

    LOL. The average salary in 87 was $230,000. I don’t feel sorry for anyone that got that kind of loot to play a kids game. Most folks have to have a real job in order to make that much even today, much less in 87. Nfl players are a rare breed and deserve their money, but any sob stories are a freaking joke dude. We should all be so “unfortunate”. The nerve of this guy.

  23. bucsfanfromNE Says:

    No seriously,obvious,,not gonna read your book