On the 25th of July, we begin training camp in Philly. From that day on, we will be at the facility from sunup to sundown; this is the longest and hardest part of the year for us. But despite it all, you learn to love it.
You approach training camp differently when you are a veteran as opposed to a rookie. When you’re younger, you are just trying to make your reps, put film out there, get in the games and hold your own. At that point you don’t have time to focus on the fine details of your game. But those of us who have been in the league for a number of years now have the opportunity to fine-tune our game, make great plays and show ourselves to have proven our position on the team. Now that we understand the flow of the game, the strategy of the team, and how to work with our teammates, the going is a lot more smooth.
Heading into training camp, our roster is currently at 90 men. At the end of August, we will be whittled down to a crew of 63 (the 53-man roster plus 10 practice squad players). It’s hard to see so many great players be released, especially after having developed relationships with them — whether they are veterans or first-timers. It’s a weird transition for us all but it’s just part of the game.
The biggest thing for all of us to remember is that football is something we do, it’s something we love, but it’s not something that defines us. Whether you make the final roster or not, you learn to put your best foot forward and know that in the end, our lives are worth much more than just our position as a football player. Our short lives here on earth are meant to be lived for so much more than this. We need to be looking at the bigger picture — God’s picture. So while I invest all I can in being great at football, I know that this does not define me or my worth.
I’ve had this conversation with my teammates every year since I’ve played in the NFL. The best thing I can offer other guys on the roster is to share my personal experiences. I’ve been the guy who’s desperately trying to earn my spot on the roster, I’ve been the one to be released from a team during training camp, and I’ve been the one to make the active roster. I know what it’s like to be chosen and to be punted. I can relate to whatever these guys are feeling and hopefully help them navigate through the situation they find themselves in.
For the past few months, we’ve been in the calm before the storm. Things are about to get really intense for us all here in Philly, and for everyone around the league. We know our focus will primarily be on football for the next six months. As a veteran player, I know what’s to be expected, though none of us are ever fully ready for it.
If you can appreciate the grind and the struggle of what it takes to be great, it’s a lot easier to embrace. I know how to enjoy the moments that are truly exciting and I know how to push through the grind of the hard times we’re about to face. I couldn’t be more pumped up about the start of this season.
— Chris Maragos, Philadelphia Eagles safety
The Increase, part of the Sports Spectrum Network, is a community of Christian pro athletes sharing their personal stories of the decrease of self and the increase of Christ (John 3:30). Visit TheIncrease.com for more stories and videos.