The Cheese League is now but a distant memory.
On the playing field, the National Football League is cyclical, with one trend after another sweeping the league. In recent years, for instance, the 3-4 defensive front has seen a resurgence, branching out from such long-term strongholds as Pittsburgh and Buffalo to almost half of the league in 2009. See also: The Wildcat.
The same thing seems to apply to the practice field, as well, at least in terms of training camp. Whereas the '80s and '90s saw a summer exodus of teams to distant camp locations - usually in search of more comfortable weather - the current trend in the NFL is to stay right at home.
At the height of the out-of-state craze, a miniature "league" of teams formed in temperate Wisconsin, with clubs like New Orleans and Kansas City settling in to various university towns and holding frequent scrimmages against each other. Now the only team that trains in the state of Wisconsin is Wisconsin's own squad, the Green Bay Packers.
Of course, it's hard to blame a team for staying put when its own facility is as perfectly suited for hosting camp as any potential destination.
The Buccaneers joined in this trend last year when they left Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex behind and held training camp at their own state-of-the-art headquarters, One Buccaneer Place. Before spending seven years at Disney, the franchise had spent roughly two decades camping at the University of Tampa. It was only in the very early years of franchise existence that the team had chosen to camp at its own facility, and the original One Buc Place (plus a nearby and now long-gone hotel) was nothing like the current version.
In 2010, exactly half of the NFL's 32 teams will hold training camp at their own home facilities. That includes three quarters of the NFC South, as the Saints and Atlanta Falcons join the Bucs as homebodies. Only the Carolina Panthers will leave their digs, taking a short trek to Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Also practicing at their own headquarters or stadiums: Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Jacksonville, Miami, New England, San Diego, Tennessee, Detroit, St. Louis, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington.
In fact, there are now only three teams that will hold any part of their training camps out of state, and only one that makes a trek of any significant distance. The Cincinnati Bengals cross the Ohio/Kentucky border to work at their traditional camp spot, Georgetown College. The Panthers, as mentioned above, trade North Carolina for South Carolina. It's the intrepid Dallas Cowboys who move about the most, holding part of camp at home in Dallas, part of it in the Alamodome in San Antonio and part of it in Oxnard, California.
For those teams that still leave their facilities for a few weeks, one trend has held strong through the years: The preferred site for practice is on some relatively close college campus. Fourteen of the 16 teams that will not train at home this year will do so on campus: Baltimore, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Arizona, Carolina, Chicago, Green Bay, Minnesota, Philadelphia and both the Jets and Giants of New York.
As was previously noted on Buccaneers.com, the Cleveland Browns will be the first team to start camp when they bring their rookies only in on Friday, July 23. The Browns veterans won't join in until a week later, on July 30, which is the most common reporting date across the league. That's no accident; teams are not allowed to bring in their veterans any earlier than 15 days before their first preseason games.
Thirteen teams, including the Buccaneers, will ask their veterans (and in most cases, the rookies, too) to report on Friday, July 30. The Buccaneers will begin training camp practice the next morning, on Saturday, July 31. Click here for a list of open practice dates and other camp information. All but one team will bring their veterans in during a five-day stretch at the end of the month, between July 28 and August 1. The Cowboys, who will play the Bengals in the Hall of Fame Game on August 8, will be the first team into camp, asking the veterans to report on July 24. Indianapolis, New England and the Giants will bring up the rear, all reporting on August 1.