The work done in April and May will pay huge dividends in December and January.
Arizona Cardinals strength and conditioning coach John Lott is delivering that message to the players, who started showing up again this week at the team’s training facility in Tempe.
“Nobody is walking around like a banty rooster,” Lott said during a break from day two of the team’s offseason strength and conditioning program. “I think all of them have been sitting in their La-Z Boys watching the playoffs. And that is not why we are here. Checks are cashing, but it’s time for us to start playing in January, February again.”
The Cardinals have missed out on January playoff football the last three seasons, while the February Super Bowl appearance Lott alluded to was four years ago.
“Our expectation is high,” Lott said. “And the job is here in Tempe. If this is what you want to play for, this is where you need to be. I know it’s voluntary and I appreciate everyone being here, but I think we all want to win. I think we all know what it takes to win.”
“Voluntary” is a tricky word in the NFL.
Players are not required to participate in their team’s offseason conditioning program; however, many do. Some have incentives tied to attendance in their contracts. Others know their attendance is a way to be seen and not have their commitment to the team questioned.
A number of Cardinals players were spotted during the 30 minutes the media was permitted to watch Wednesday’s weight room work.
“Right now, we’re just trying to build a base,” Lott said. “With the new CBA, they have really taken four weeks away from the strength program in the National Football League, which is a travesty. But, at the same time, it is what it is. I think we’ll start to see the benefits in OTAs. I think we’ll start to see the benefits in December.”
Lott has been with the Cardinals since 2007. His saying, ‘Get Your Mind Right’, is embedded in players’ minds and written on t-shirts many wear during their workouts.
“I’ve been saying that now for about 25 years,” he said. “You know I’m from the great state of Texas and we’ve got little colloquiums. That’s kind of what I do. It’s all about what (assistant strength and conditioning coach) Pete Alosi and I are trying to do in here. We’re just trying to be a piece of the pie.”
Lott demands a lot from the players, who he expects to be in shape even before they walk back into the facility.
“It’s not like it was back in the day,” Lott said, “where you kind of expected them to be watching ‘Oprah’ and eating bonbons, but now, ‘Hey, fellas, it’s time to roll.’ We don’t really have time. I tell them all the time, I’m not even buying green bananas. We’ve got to get them ripe. The guys are coming in and they have a base. And if they don’t have a base, they find out pretty quick that we’ve left elementary (school). We’re in junior high (school).”
And how have the players entered the conditioning program this year?
“I’m pretty happy with what I see,” Lott said. “We don’t have a lot of sloppy bodies. That’s good news for us.”