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We are all familiar with the transitions from post-season to off-season back to pre-season. We are used to the annual cycle of decompression from an anxiety-ridden playoff run (if you're lucky) to the much needed return to normal blood pressure to the hope of tomorrow that comes with the draft. We spend late February through mini-camps selectively recalling of the best moments throughout the season combined with intentional amnesia of games like the Browns, Seahawks and Cardinals debacles.  Then it starts to build again!  Combing through player transactions, searching for the newest team merchandise and the unbridled optimism that mounts with each preseason game.  This is the offseason...we know it...we love it....this is how fans train for regular season.

But this year was different.  The NFL lockout introduced so much uncertainty for fans and players.  I for one didn't get worried until the last week of July.  I was going through my rituals, confident there would be a season (then again, I thought the debt ceiling debate wouldn't have lasted that long either!).  I stayed "conditioned" so to speak.

I could only hope that our team was too.

I read an article today about the player camps that Drew Brees and Jonathan Vilma were running during the lockout.  Our captains were commended for continuing training with the same degree of discipline and rigor as the coaching staff.  Of course, our team "stayed conditioned" too! We're champions! Super Bowl 44 is fresh in the minds of players like Brees and Vilma and they know what it takes to be prepared for week 1!  How about the other 31 teams...I'm going to go out on a limb and say that there was probably more late night runs to Taco Bell than early morning runs on the stadium steps.  This is a tribute to Brees and Vilma, the on-field generals, giving their best and expecting the best out of everyone around them.  Because they command such great respect, and our team is filled with players of the highest character, they were able to unify the team during this time of great uncertainty.  I can only imagine that this commitment and cohesion will bode us well this season.