EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo seems to like to keep people on their toes. So, in the team's first meeting of camp, he pulled out a new motivational tactic that he had been saving up since the mandatory minicamp ended last month.
The second-year head coach divided his roster into two groups, the 25 and under group and the 26 and over group. The younger players were read a poem by Rudyard Kipling, "If," which speaks about overcoming adversity as one grows.
"The good teams merge well and gel well and we need to do that. We need to understand what the other person's going through," McAdoo said. "Empathy is a big part of that and it really carries over as one of our values. A 36-year-old understanding what a 20-year-old is going through and a 20-year-old trying to understand what a 36-year-old is going through, and it's not easy."
The older players were told the story about a lion named Frasier that was rescued from a Mexican circus in the early 1970s. Frasier's new handlers, seeing what poor condition the beast was in, fed him a new diet and helped give him the nurturing he needed to become invigorated. Ultimately, the beast became a stud of sorts, successfully mating with several lionesses that had previously rejected other males. Before his death at age 19 (74 in human years), Frasier had fathered at least 33 cubs over an 18-month period.
The purpose behind sharing the story of Frasier was to stress the importance of taking care of one's body that is subject to a beating every week between practices and games. If players are smart with rest, nutrition and recovery, they too might enjoy a rejuvenated season even if Father Time might otherwise dictate.
To help the players along in that regard, McAdoo shared a little insight into some of the changes he's implementing to the team's program this year to make sure it stays on track in its quest of adding a fifth Super Bowl title to its resume.
"We took into consideration a lot of things when looking at the calendar year - the whole year. We put a plan together with a fine-tooth comb for these guys and it's going to give us an advantage to play our best football and our best football is needed when the weather turns," McAdoo said.
"We have more days off than we've had in the past, which is necessary. We have REM days, we have hydration and nutritional improvements, strength and conditioning, and practice loads. We're all going to be looking at - mental conditioning will be a big part of it. We're excited for the calendar year ahead."
McAdoo has not been afraid to try new things after conducting extensive research into how other programs are run. While the goal remains the same every year, there is a necessary first step he said the team needs to take.
"Proving ourselves to ourselves, striking a balance between confidence and reality, and our youth and experience must gel - that's going to be important for us," he said.