Random Thoughts From Cowboys 2013 Training Camp: The Physical Nature Of The Game

Layne Murdoch

Attending training camp can give you a renewed appreciation for the physical nature of our favorite sport.

One key aspect of training camp that is really hard to convey in print is the physical presence of some of the players in camp.

I focused on Jay Ratliff a little in yesterday's camp summary, and wrote that he is "easily the most physically imposing player (outside of DeMarcus Ware) on the team" and that "Ratliff appears to be permanently angry and exudes a tension that carries the promise of violence."

In a camp that features stud athletes almost anywhere you look, some of the players manage to immediately stand out from all the other players the moment you see them.

Dez Bryant is one such player. Bryant is a player who is extremely smooth yet incredibly powerful at the same time - and he knows it. His play oozes a self-confidence that borders on the intimidating. When I watch him make his way onto the field, I have this image in my head of Bryant walking in slow motion to the menacing Jimmy Page riffs in Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" (For you young folks, that would be Puff Daddy's "Come With Me").

Dez Bryant the person is a likeable guy who jokes around a lot and clearly has fun on the football field. But underneath his boyish charm is an intensity and fire that manifests in his physicality: Bryant is able to move with an athleticism and elegance that is almost uncanny and that will make him take the league by storm this year.

Another such player is DeMarcus Ware. He looks like he's been carved out of a gigantic block of granite, especially now that he's bulked up even more. But Ware's physicality does not have Ratliff's raw violence or Bryant's athleticism. Ware is about power, but not the "I-benchpress-700-pounds" kind of power, but a focused, laser-like power. Ware has a body language that keeps repeating one simple sentence: "I will dominate you and there's nothing you can do about it."

When we watch football on TV, we watch it from a (safe) distance. We don't often hear the sound of helmets crashing and the sound of pads popping; we don't feel the ground shake as two athletes hit the ground two yards in front of us; we don't cringe as we hear the muffled groans of a player on the ground and we don't often see the physical warfare waged in the trenches. Watching from the comfortable distance of our couches, we do not often get to experience the purely visceral level of the game, the raw, unadulterated violence inherent in the sport we love so much.

This is what makes camp so exciting, what gives me an entirely new appreciation of the athletes playing the game, and is why I hear Tomoyasu Hotei's "Battle Without Honor Or Humanity" every time DeMarcus Ware walks up to the line of scrimmage.

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