Morale vs. Reps: A Veteran’s POV of Denver Broncos Field Day

Denver Broncos roster; Denver Bronco wide receiver Seth Williams (90) and wide receiver Brandon Johnson (36) and wide receiver Montrell Washington (12) during mini camp drills at UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos roster; Denver Bronco wide receiver Seth Williams (90) and wide receiver Brandon Johnson (36) and wide receiver Montrell Washington (12) during mini camp drills at UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The Denver Broncos canceled the final practice of minicamp for a field day. A US Army combat vet contrasts the importance of such an event to team success.

With the start of mandatory minicamp, the Denver Broncos truly started putting together the pieces of the puzzle that will ultimately reveal the final image that will be the 2022 NFL season.

While the vast majority of players had reported for almost all voluntary OTA activities, there were several holdouts. Minicamp is different in the fact that it is no longer voluntary. All players were required to attend, and as long as they were physically able, to participate in all activities.

Minicamp is a three-day long event that starts on a Monday and officially ends on Wednesday. Following mandatory minicamp, the players get to enjoy five long weeks off to relax and spend time with their families before returning for the grueling gauntlet that is Training Camp.

The first two days of practice were business as usual. The players and coaches spent time in the weight room, in the classrooms studying the playbook and then finishing it all up with on-field practices.

While Monday and Tuesday were normal days as far as football practice goes, Wednesday was a bit of an outlier. Coach Nathaniel Hackett chose to cancel practice and instead spend the final day before five weeks off with the team having a field day.

The intention of the field day was to give the team one last break, have some fun, but most importantly build brotherhood and morale among the players. However, the controversy caused by the decision left some on social media within Broncos Country a little concerned.

The Denver Broncos have been on a losing slide for the last six seasons, a fact that is not lost on the fans. As a result, there are some fans that feel that the team should be practicing and preparing for the season every single minute that they have the opportunity.

When the announcement came out that the final practice on that Wednesday would be canceled the majority of Broncos Country voiced their support of the choice. However there were still some who took to social media to voice their displeasure with the decision.

From this point, I am approaching this writing from my point of view as a US Army combat veteran.

While as a fan it is understandable to want the team to put every modicum of effort into preparing for the onslaught ahead of them, as a Veteran I can fully appreciate the value of team building and comradery.

While playing for a professional sports organization and being a soldier are vastly different to compare as a whole, there are several aspects of it that can be related to one another.

The importance of being able to trust the man next to you and know that he has your back no matter what can not be understated. As a soldier, I had to know that the men beside me would protect and keep me safe just as I would for them. Without that trust, many more of us likely would not have made it home.

Although not life or death, playing for a team with the expectations the Denver Broncos have for this upcoming season will require a similar trust. If players have any doubt as to whether or not they can trust the men around them both on and off the field, it will be reflected in the on-field result.

Trust at that level can only be built by getting to know one another on a profound level. while the team spends significant amounts of time with each other on the field and in training rooms, it is difficult to truly get to know one another in those settings.

Some trust is of course built on the field through playing alongside one another, but you cant profoundly learn who someone really is, and therefore truly trust them based on their ability as a player alone. To accomplish that goal you must know who someone is as a person.

In the Military, often our superiors would organize mandatory field days and large-scale events designed to be fun and bring soldiers together, give us a break from the demanding training which we were undergoing on a daily basis, and hopefully even help us to have some fun.

Sometimes these events were looked upon with disdain and annoyance for being mandatory. Many of my fellow soldiers and I hated being “forced” to have fun. Years now removed from my duty as a soldier, when I look back at those events, I truly realize the importance to our mission that those events had to our success and survival. Brotherhood was built.

Through events like pickup basketball, tug of war, dunk tanks, and flag football intermixed with good food and drink, I learned who the people that I normally might not spend time with outside of training really were, and we began to truly trust each other on a whole other level.

The same can be said for the Denver Broncos. They have spent a lot of time getting to know each other on the field these past several months. However, off of the practice field, many of them might not get to spend very much time around one another building that type of trust.

Position groups will spend significant time together, and even the offensive and defensive units will get more time as their prospective units than they will as an entire team.

Nathaniel Hackett understands the need for this kind of brotherhood to be built. The team will spend the better part of six months around each other almost non-stop. At the same time, he understands the need to build morale.

The same team-building exercises that I previously mentioned that we did in the Army also served to give us some time to have fun and relax. The amount of work that we as soldiers put into training and making sure that we were ready to go to war at moment’s notice, also meant that often we felt very tired and burned out.

Having fun days and field days was a welcome break. We found ourselves ready to get back to training with renewed vigor.

Ultimately our training was better served because we weren’t so run down and burned out. Thanks to that training we were able to better accomplish our mission and more of us made it home alive and safe.

When the players return to the field for Training Camp in July, they not only will have had time to rest and relax, but the morale and trust that was built on the last day of minicamp will help them to drive forward into the season in a much better head space, and with the knowledge that each member of the team has each other’s six.

While the need to get as many reps as possible to prepare for a season with high expectations is vastly important, the building of morale and brotherhood is equally important to the future success of the Denver Broncos as a team.

While we the fans want them to be as prepared as possible, this crusty old Veteran thinks that we will see the fruits of field day just as much on the field in 2022 as we do the time put in practice.