There will be no training camp in Rochester this summer.
If Sean McDermott gets his way, it will only be a one year absence.
McDermott spoke with Western New York reporters via Zoom on Wednesday morning and he strongly emphasized a desire to continue conducting training camp out of town.
“I think there was a lot of question early on whether Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane were proponents of going away to training camp,” said McDermott in a rare third person reference of himself. “I think there was, for some reason, mixed messaging early. I don’t know how that happened. I’ve always been a proponent of going away.”
The NFL issued a directive to all teams on Tuesday not to go away for camp this year, due to concerns about Covid-19. McDermott understands the need to keep all players as safe as possible and supports the decision.
“I respect that the NFL has the vision and the foresight to get out in front of things,” he said.
The Bills were one of only ten teams who had planned to hold training camp away from their home facility in 2020. That number has declined considerably in the last two decades. In 1999, 28 of 31 NFL teams went away for camp.
“I just believe in that for a lot of reasons,” he said. “Getting away I think builds fellowship and camaraderie. Anytime you can share an experience, I think that bodes well for building community, chemistry and the like which are so important to building a good team.”
Players and coaches have often discussed that the benefits of going out of town for camp aren’t always what can be built together, but what can be left behind.
“When you’re away, it just kinda frees you up a little bit,” McDermott said. “When I go back to my room to go to bed, it’s just me. It’s not my family. I think there’s a little bit of a pull for husbands and fathers (when they are home).”
The nights at training camp are filled with card games and dominos. The training and treatment areas at Fisher are located in a spot on each floor of the dorms where they also become impromptu hangouts.
It all helps.
“Guys get to know each other a little bit in those in-between times. There’s a lot of value in that in building our football team,” McDermott said.
McDermott joked that he isn’t invited into many of the card games because his speed is only playing for a dollar here and there.
He certainly made it sound like those games will be happening in the St. John Fisher dorms for as long as he is the head coach of the Bills.