Many NFL teams have often opted for training camps in remote locations. But their coaches aren’t always quite as explicit about their reasons for doing that as Cleveland Browns’ head coach Kevin Stefanski was Saturday. As Tom Withers of The Associated Press wrote, after the team arrived at their camp at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, Stefanski said the resort’s remote location was a benefit for them.
“We’re landlocked here,” coach Kevin Stefanski said after the team took a short flight from Ohio and held a one-hour practice under partly sunny skies. “We’re in the middle of nowhere by design, so it forces you to be around your teammates.”
That’s maybe not the ideal language to use, with its suggestion that players might not want to be around their teammates if not forced to be. But the general principle has some merit. Most NFL teams have training camp away from their home city with stated goals of developing that kind of camaraderie (the Browns have usually held theirs in Berea, Ohio), and several NFL teams have previously used The Greenbrier.
And some of the Cleveland players seem on board with this remote destination as a way to enhance the focus on football. Receiver Amari Cooper told Withers he likes the removal of distractions. “Just grind. Just an opportunity to get away and focus on football. Just training camp, you know, just like the old days.”
And it also probably helps that this is quite the luxury resort, with possible day-off activities for players including golf, paddleboarding, white-water rafting, and pedicures, and with food including fancy open-air buffets with stir-fry stations. And Stefanski said the positive reviews The Greenbrier received from coaches who had been there with other teams were a big part of why they made this move.
“It just made sense to try to get away,” he said. “This is a place that has housed teams before. Having coaches on our staff that have been here that really can speak to this place, and then how first class it is, that was really helpful in us in determining this was the spot that we wanted to come.”
So it’s not necessarily torture for the players. But “forces you to be around your teammates” is still interesting phrasing. The Browns will be at The Greenbrier for eight days, preparing for their first exhibition game on Aug. 3 (the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in Canton, OH, against the New York Jets).