The NFL lockout. It has been the elephant in the room throughout the entire season, and now as the deadline draws near for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with no progress being made, players are starting to prepare for the worst. If the lockout does indeed take place, the players will be forced to perform their training outside of their usual team facilities. IMG Academy is preparing to be one of those institutions that opens its doors for athletes interested in staying in shape during their extended time away from the field.
From the Florida Today article:
One of the facilities numerous NFL agents are already setting up agreements with is IMG Academy in Bradenton, which annually houses close to two dozen former college football stars while they prepare in January and February each year for the NFL Draft.
The 400-acre facility has been used in the past by dozens of current NFL players and agents, so it's a logical spot where a huge chunk of current pro stars will flock to keep sharp, should there be a lockout.
"We're already a west coast training venue for the Jacksonville Jaguars in case of a hurricane," said Trevor Moawad, the director of IMG Performance Institute.
Moawad has a previous relationship with the Jaguars. He currently also works with college football powers Texas, Florida State and Alabama as a mental conditioning coach.
Various NFL players who have trained at IMG in the past still use the facility from time to time, anyway. Now it looks like the facility could see a flock of NFL stars into its complex.
"We've talked to a number of agents on a number of players that are already taking the necessary precautions to make sure that they can get their athletes into an environment like this," Moawad said recently. "(They want) to help kind of control making sure the athletes are dong the right things in the offseason.
"I don't think that anybody thinks the season is not going to happen, I think everybody expects the season to happen. But I think it is realistic that the offseason workouts and the OTAs may not happen. We expect we'll have a lot of athletes here if there is a work stoppage."
While a lot of players will undoubtedly use personal trainers more, a large-scale facility like IMG offers more of what the athletes need -- with former professional and Olympic coaches and trainers on site and the chance to interact with other world-class talent on a daily basis in a training atmosphere.
How many players flock to IMG could be eye-opening. Moawad estimates the facility can comfortably accommodate e 150-200 players. And he's expecting the number to be very high, if not that high, should the NFL lock out athletes.
"We're prepared for it," Moawad said. "We're obviously one of the few facilities that has this size and the scale. These athletes understand even if there is no offseason workouts they need to be working out so we've talked with a number of agencies about getting them down here, getting them in the environment. Because we also have great facilities that they can host their families."
Moawad and his staff of more than 50 have also been busy getting former college stars ready for the NFL Draft in April and the upcoming NFL Combine.