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  • Terry O'Neil

Damien Woody Aligns with PLP Philosophy


Damien Woody, former Pro Bowl offensive lineman with the New England Patriots, Detroit Lions and New York Jets, now an ESPN commentator, aligned himself last week with Practice Like Pros' philosophy of limited-contact practice. Appearing on the Ryen Russillo Podcast, Woody was asked by host Ryen Russillo regarding practice, "Is being in pads, does it actually make you tougher? I already know what you're going to say." Woody replied, "I think it's a necessary evil in training camp. I hated training camp but yes, it's a necessary evil. This time of year, it doesn't make you tougher. At this time of year, it's a battle of attrition. Do you have enough bodies to get across the finish line? So you gotta measure getting in pads versus health. I want guys who are fresh on gameday. That, to me, is the important thing. The hell with the pads. Get me to gameday. That should be the most important thing." Woody's comments are congruent with Practice Like Pros' recommendations for high school football:

  • 6 hours of full contact in pre-season,

  • 15 minutes of full contact per week in regular season,

  • no full contact in spring/summer/off-season

Governing bodies of high school athletics in two states, New Jersey and North Carolina, have adopted exactly these limits. Their strategy of minimizing risk, most experts agree, is directly connected to the leading issue in high school football -- declining participation. In deciding whether to sign a football consent form, a parent is weighing risk versus benefit. Thus, parents are often targeted in campaigns to revitalized the high school game, particularly following the difficult 2020 season. PLP suggests that the starting point of such campaigns should be educating high school coaches on the sophisticated, progressive practice techniques of NFL teams and Dartmouth's Buddy Teevens. Then the coach would be equipped to inform and cultivate parents. "'All politics is local' was the famous phrase of Thomas 'Tip' O'Neill, former Speaker of the House," said PLP founder Terry O'Neil. "Likewise, all high school football is local. The person best positioned to promote high school football is the head coach in each school district. We want him prepared not just to tell parents, but to show them on video: 'Your son is in good hands because we practice like an Ivy League team, we practice like an NFL team."

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