Playbook stories: Lost, found and confused
It is one of an NFL player's most important possessions. But a playbook can often land a player in trouble, especially if he loses it.
Theismann: Get out the handcuffs
Everything a player wants to know about his importance, needs and career is contained within the playbook. A player feels he has truly arrived in this league when he receives his playbook. Yet as important as it is, there are still some players who have trouble holding on to it. I remember one training camp when we had a guy -- who will remain nameless -- who lost his playbook early in camp and tried to use other people's like it was college and he lost a textbook.
He realized the trouble he could be in with the coaching staff if they found out, so he kept coming up with excuses for not having it in meetings as though the coaching staff wouldn't realize he lost it. Little did he know that the coaches had found it and were just waiting for him to either fess up or make a mistake so they could have some fun with him.
One day after about a week, he finally got the nerve to admit he lost it, and the coordinator he told simply reached into his desk and handed the player his playbook and told him to try to handcuff himself to the darn thing. You've never seen a more relieved player than him.
Allen: "It was like Greek"
When I first came into the league as a Philadelphia Eagle, I had the luck of playing for defensive genius Buddy Ryan. For those who don't know, he's the architect of the famed "46" defense and also was the defensive coordinator for the 1985 Chicago Bears defense that chewed up opposing offenses.
Coming into the league I felt that I was pretty adept at reading a playbook and understanding the nuances of what was going on after a first look, but days into my tenure with the Eagles I didn't know what was going on in my playbook. It was like Greek with the different terminology and nuances. Luckily I had a very good set of teammates and a patient coaching staff who walked me through the playbook and got me up to snuff relatively quickly. But those first few days after I received the playbook it completely baffled me.
Salisbury: Lost and found
I've never lost my playbook. That I can assure you, but I have misplaced it for stretches at a time and let me tell you, it's frightening because you need that sucker when you're going into the positional meetings and no matter how long you're with a team you need to have it to get used to any new terminology that may pop up.
The first time I misplaced my playbook was the worst. I was a young player and didn't know how to tell the coaching staff I couldn't find it because I didn't want to be cut and believe me, losing a playbook can be a cutworthy offense. So I tried to find that sucker everywhere I could before I finally realized where it was and brought it in to the meeting. When I saw that big binder for the first time after misplacing it, I darn near jumped for joy.
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2007 NFL PREVIEW
In our 2007 preview, 'Secrets of The Game," we take you inside the NFL, with stories on the playbook, video preparation and a peek at Peyton Manning's passing camp.
THE BASICS• Team-by-team previews, more
• Power rankings: Pats clear No.1
• For your ears only: SB predictions, more
• Our experts' picks... | ...and yours
SPORTSNATION• Vote: And the Super Bowl teams will be...
• Vote: NFL 101 | Week 1 Pick 'em
• Rank 'em: Teams | MVP favorites | QBs
DAY 1: Mystery of the playbook• The NFL's sacred diary of trust
• Scouts Inc on go-to plays: AFC | NFC
• Inside an '04 playbook | 10 pages from it (PDF)
• Playbook stories: Lost, found, confused
• Pasquarelli: How different are they?
• For your ears only: Talking X's, O's
• Scout-speak: A glossary
DAY 2: Tales of the tape• Breaking down the game with Matt Hasselbeck
• How teams collect, dissect video
• Merril Hoge's all-game tape team
• Film room: 'Holy land' of the NFL
• Video: Hoge, EA Sports on tape study
• Future film study could be like video game
• Clayton: Five sleeper teams
• Scouts Inc.: 10 unnoticed contributors
• Jeremy Green: What I learn from tape
DAY 3: Inside Manning's passing camp• Behind the scenes with Manning & Co.
• Football joy at Manning Passing Academy
• Milestones: Favre, others approach marks in '07
• Brett Favre Zoom gallery
• Scouts Inc: 5 passers of near future
• Scouts Inc: 5 passers of distant future
...and in ESPN The Magazine
Season preview: NFL players spend the entire offseason looking forward to September. Then poof! A star QB (hi, Mike) is indicted and a marquee DT blows out his knee (that's gotta hurt, Booger). Winning the Super Bowl isn't easy. Ask LT, who's trusting his my-way-is-the-only-way GM to take him all the way.
On newsstands Wed., Aug. 29
...and on ESPN
Watch the season debut of the award-winning "Sunday NFL Countdown" on Sept. 9 at 11 a.m. (ET).