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Bring back 'Oklahoma'


It was a highlight event in every training camp where it was a tradition. The infamous "Oklahoma drill" was a combination of blocking and bluster that coaches used as a means for setting a tone for training camp.

Oh, Oklahoma, Oklahoma, where have you gone?

Well, some teams still do it, but the Oklahoma has vanished from the majority of training camps, forced out by salary cap amortization and by the near-crippling fear of injury that is currently gripping, no, make that strangling the game of professional football.

Jack Del Rio participated in plenty of Oklahoma drills.

The guy is an Oklahoma natural. He even spoke romantically the other day of Jimmy Johnson's infamous Oklahoma, when Johnson was the Cowboys' rookie coach in the training camp of 1989.

Isn't it amazing how memorable the Oklahoma can be? It's part of lore. We reserve a place in our hearts and minds for the great Oklahoma drills of our football lives, but soon there will be none of us left to have witnessed this exercise in fundamental football, and the Oklahoma will have gone the way of the drop-kick.

And why? Because everyone's afraid somebody will get hurt.

Hey, this is football. You will get hurt. Ironically, however, there are no Oklahoma stories about players getting hurt. There are great stories about Oklahoma hits and Oklahoma fights, but not about broken arms or legs. In fact, the Oklahoma may be the most injury-free drill in training camp history. Players have suffered camp-ending hamstring pulls in the first-day run, but this reporter can't remember an Oklahoma injury in all of the years he watched them.

They were fun. That's all. The fans loved them, the media loved them, and the players loved them, too. You want stories?

Everybody knew it was coming; halfway through the first practice of training camp. It was to the point the fans even knew where to gather, and they jockeyed for viewing position around the blocking bags strategically placed on the ground, even though the team was two fields away.

The Oklahoma was about energy. It put a charge into the start of every camp.

If you're too young to know the drill, here's how it worked: An offensive lineman went head-to-head against a defensive lineman. They lined up between two blocking bags that were about five yards apart. Unless the offensive lineman was a center, the drill included a center, who passed the ball to a quarterback, who handed it to a running back, who ran behind the block of his offensive lineman and between the bags. Often, the highest-drafted rookie offensive lineman was matched against the most esteemed veteran defensive lineman, and vice versa.

Without a doubt, it was an in-your-face football drill, and another of its intents was to let every player on the team know nobody was above having to compete. Hey, it's a new year, everybody's gotta prove themselves, and the proving ground begins between those two bags.

OK, it's a romantic notion for a game that's frozen by the cap's cold facts, but, you know, this camp could use a little Oklahoma right about now. Things got a little sloppy last night, right?

Put the bags on the ground. Maybe the boys could use a little adjustment.

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