Anyone who returns from a long trip looks forward to sleeping in their own bed on that first night home, but perhaps none more than the Giants who broke training camp Tuesday night. Although gripes about the comfort and size of beds in training camp are as old as football itself, this summer the Giants have been left to wonder if the recent rash of back injuries they've absorbed has more to do with their sleeping arrangements than their on-field activities.
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"Everybody has been complaining about their back because the beds in the dorm are fairly hard," defensive tackle Linval Joseph said Tuesday. "My back [is] hurting, too. I think it's just the bed."
Training camp has turned into Bed, Backs and Beyond.
The Giants have had five players miss practice time with back issues in their 2 1/2 weeks in Albany. The players include offensive tackles Will Beatty and James Brewer, defensive tackles Marvin Austin and Marvin Parker and cornerback Terrell Thomas. The latest is Austin, who was sent to the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan Tuesday for tests on his back. Though the beds did not cause those injuries, they likely did not help the healing process much.
Tight end Martellus Bennett said his back is fine, but he understands that putting professional football players in dormitory beds at the University at Albany is a recipe for discomfort . . . or worse.
"We're big humans," Bennett said. "Every bed is small. You can't put a damn dinosaur in a twin-size bed. Unless you've got California King, the bed's going to be small to these guys. A normal-size human jumps into a regular-size bed, it fits perfectly. Large, big humans jump into a regular-size bed, the bed's too small."
After a relatively quiet camp, the Giants left Albany in the midst of this bed-lam. The disrespected Giants have been considered a sleeper pick this season, but it turns out their sleep is being disrupted. This is no Dream Team.
"It's not home," said Beatty, who showed up in Albany with back troubles and found little comfort in his Albany bed. "You spend a lot of money getting your house right and then you come here and it just ain't the same. I hit up Walmart a few times, got some Tempur-Pedic toppers, your own blankets and, eh, it's not the same."
Beatty said he was fortunate to have a full-size bed. Others are not so lucky. Brewer, a 6-6, 330-pound linemen who has also missed time with back troubles this camp, was assigned a twin bed.
"I have like a little kid's cot," Brewer said earlier this week. "It's like I'm in college all over again."
The Giants say that though the bed frames are provided by the university, in the dormitories where the players stay during training camp, the team provides the mattresses. They said that if a player complains about his bed, a new one is brought in for him. The last time that happened was in 2008.
"I do know about the mattresses and they are ours," Tom Coughlin said grimly at his news conference.
The Giants said they have not heard any complaints during this camp, although the grumbling Tuesday was hard to ignore.
"Is it a surprise that players have problems with dorm beds?" linebacker Spencer Paysinger tweeted Tuesday afternoon. "Asking 250-350lb players to sleep on twin beds? Lol common sense."
Certainly in the macho world of football training camp, grousing about an uncomfortable night's sleep would be frowned upon, even if some players are multimillion-dollar pieces to what the Giants hope will be another championship season.
"You're in camp mode, so you know you're not at home, you're in a different environment," Beatty said. "You have to fight through it. You can't blame it on a bed that you can't practice. It's your job to practice and be out there for whatever. So there are no excuses."