BOURBONNAIS, IL - JULY 30: Members of the Chicago Bears prepare for a summer training camp practice at Olivet Nazarene University on July 30, 2010 in Bourbonnais, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
With the doors to Halas Hall closed to them, Bears players are scattering about the country to stay in shape. Despite the lockout, they don't want to be out of shape for when the season does begin.
The Chicago Sun-Times took a look at where the players are putting in their training time. By their own expense, Bears are using top-of-the-line trainers to take the place of the voluntary workouts that would have started at Halas Hall this week.
Knox and Toeaina train three to four days a week at EFT Sports Performance, about six miles south of the Bears’ headquarters in Lake Forest, with founder Elias Karras. Free-agent defensive tackles Tommie Harris and Anthony Adams also train there. Matt Forte and Greg Olsen are training at Bommarito Performance Systems in Miami; Charles Tillman is at Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego; and Roberto Garza, Nick Roach and Corey Wootton are at TCBOOST in Northbrook.
Earl Bennett often tweets about his daily workouts, as does Wootton. Rashied Davis is working to bring the receivers and quarterbacks together to run routes.
The players are not sitting around during unemployment. In fact, they are spending $50-150 a day on training. If there were no lockout, they would be receiving workout bonuses, i.e., the Bears would be paying them to work out.
In addition to the expense incurred, the danger in all this is that if they are injured training, they are not covered by their teams. In fact, a letter from the NFL at the beginning of the lockout made this reality clear:
The Club will not pay for or provide health insurance or other active-player benefits or services. You have already received separate communications regarding your option to pay for health benefits continuation under COBRA ... If you engage in any activities during the lockout, even training, you do so at your own risk. Any injury resulting from such activities will not be the responsibility or liability of the Club or the NFL.
Paying for training expenses is new to football, but not completely foreign to pro sports. Football players in this situation are more like mixed martial artists or boxers. Some promotions, like the UFC, will cover injuries a fighter sustains while training for a fight, but if they trip and fall down their stairs, that's their own problem. Fighters cover their own training expenses, usually as a percentage of their fight purses, and that extra expense is something that fighters share in common with their decertified brothers who play football.