The Giants' offseason conditioning program started today.
Yeah, okay. It's not like spring training, where people get all warm and fuzzy over the approach of baseball season. But it has become a rather important part of the football season. It's a chance for new faces like free agent safety Antrel Rolle, to work in a somewhat relaxed atmosphere with his new teammates. And once the Organized Team Activity (OTA) sessions begin, the team will be able to work as a unit under the guidance of the coaches.
It's really amazing how much these things have grown. When they first started in the early '90s, the program's volunteer aspect was just that. Volunteer. Maybe 20 guys who lived in the area would show up regularly.
Oh, there might be subtle repercussions for a player coming off a so-so year who didn't show up. I remember when one wide receiver failed to show consistently for Dan Reeves' program in 1993. He wound up on the bottom of the depth chart come training camp and never moved up. But those instances were rare.
Now, a coach can count on all but one or two killjoys (Plaxico Burress, Jeremy Shockey?) to make at least the recommended 80 percent of the workouts. Offseason contract bonuses have a lot to do with that. But a lot of players, too, see this as the first of several bonding exercises.
So the process of putting last year's 8-8 record well into the past has begun.