Today's dip into the archives takes us back to a simpler time when social distancing and antibacterial wipes weren't really a part of the NFL training camp vernacular.

What the Saints were doing at the time probably seemed like a good idea.

But if you read between the lines here, it seems like I was a little skeptical from the beginning.

The training camp experiment lasted three seasons, all of which resulted in 7-9 records for the Saints, so maybe I was on to something.

Anyway, this was the warning from July of 2014:


Well, you guess this is one way for the Saints to cut down on training camp holdouts.

You know all about NFL training camps, of course.

They're hot and spartan. Sweaty. Brutal. Dusty. There's blazing, eye-squinting sun. Wind sprints and gassers.

Parched mouths … brown grass … Oh, the humidity, the pure torture and … five golf courses … a tennis center … nine restaurants … seven bars … two spas, one with genuine mineral water … skeet shooting … carriage rides … fly fishing … a casino …

Wait a minute.

Got sidetracked there.

No, I'm reading the literature right.

The Saints will open their 2014 training camp in that hell hole known affectionately throughout the NFL as … "The Greenbrier Resort."

Also known as "America's Resort."

photo for scooters column

INSET: Saints head coach Sean Payton caddies for Ryan Palmer during the Greenbrier Classic pro-am on July 3, 2013. The Saints spent three fruitless training camps at the luxury resort.

 

I believe it's in West Virginia somewhere, probably White Sulphur Springs, nestled in the Allegheny Mountains.

Not exactly Bear Bryant's Junction Boys.

But presumably the Saints will find time between world-class croquet and the Oakhurst Links to install an offense before returning to New Orleans.

Are you listening, Jimmy Graham?

Do you really want to hold out and miss this?

I'm sure somebody will pull some strings and get you into a foursome at The Old White TPC Course, which just last week was hosting the PGA Tour's Greenbrier Classic.

It's Slammin' Sammy Snead's old haunt.

The Saints say that, when considering a good spot for their July-August blood, sweat and tears, they chose The Greenbrier as a proper escape from the New Orleans weather over the same time frame.

They'll do the first half in West Virginia before returning when things cool off in New Orleans in mid-August.

Makes sense.

You know what they say about the sticky Louisiana weather in July-August — it's not the heat, it's finding a decent morning tee time.

Try the Meadows Course, famous for its double green on the 18th hole and, according to lore, "offers the best photographic opportunities of the courses with its panoramic views of the surrounding mountains."

Sure beats Metairie in August.

The Saints have fled their humid headquarters before. For a preseason camp in Jackson, Miss., for instance, it was sometimes a full degree cooler (if that's the word) than in Metairie.

So this time they're leaving nothing to chance. According to the Chamber of Commerce, it sometimes has trouble getting above 80 at The Greenbrier.

Also, it's a great opportunity to fine-tune that short game at the (Nick) Faldo Golf Center, maybe sneak in a round of horseback riding or horseshoes.

But don't get the idea it will be easy. Surely there's some kind of law about having a curfew and a casino in the same building, so there could be some rugged morning workouts.

Yet they said nothing good would come out of Bountygate.

This novel approach to the rigors of training camp ­— falconry and shuffleboard are also available — apparently was hatched while head coach Sean Payton was banished, sitting out the 2012 season after being suspended by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

One of the part-time jobs Payton took on to make ends meet that year was to caddy for his PGA Tour buddy Ryan Palmer in the Greenbrier Classic.

Apparently, during lulls in Palmer's golf, Payton looked at the squash courts, the biking trail and kayak marina, slapped his forehead and said, "This is it! This is the perfect spot for training camp."

In fact, it's hard to think of any outdoor activity that The Greenbrier doesn't offer.

Well, there was at least one.

When the Saints inquired, it turned out there was this noticeable shortage of football fields.

None, actually.

But that was no problem.

It's doubtful the Saints would be able to squeeze in many jumping jacks or scrimmages after a busy day of off-road racing and canopy tours anyway.

But, just to be sure, The Greenbrier built two regulation grass football fields, both as well manicured as the croquet lawns, and another with artificial turf — just on the odd chance the team ever gets bored and feels the urge to give football a whirl.

But no one will ever again call owner Tom Benson cheap. The low-end rooms at The Greenbrier, according to website, run you something like $650 a night for a double, plus mini-bar and greens fee charges (however, "nightly turndown service" is included).

But they should be able to get their chores completed in as much secrecy as possible considering that whatever football practice they manage to work into their spa time will be open to the public.

Payton and the braintrust can probably be assured of secrecy while plotting season strategy.

This, after all, is the spot where the feds built a luxurious fallout shelter roughly the size of Utah underneath one of America's busiest resorts without anybody knowing about it for 30 years.


Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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