The Biggest Issue In NFL Training Camps This Summer? Who Has And Hasn’t Seen ‘Game Of Thrones’



Working in media, you come to assume that shows will be spoiled for you. I often skip out on entire ones because I know the plot twists. It’s impossible to avoid, being on Twitter all day, while sitting in a chat room full of people who always want to talk last night’s episode. I can’t do my job without encountering some spoilers for some shows and that’s the trade-off I willingly take to work in this business.

But do other offices deserve to be a spoiler-free space? Most everyone would say yes.

In the hot, brutal world of NFL training camps, a lot of athletes say no, especially when it comes to the most popular show on television, Game of Thrones. From the Wall Street Journal:

With the exception of off-season workouts, this is the first time some teams have gotten together en masse in more than eight months. Naturally, talk at the lunch table or in the training room turns to the wildly popular HBO show, which wrapped its fifth season in June. (Warning: spoilers ahead).

“If you don’t know that Jon Snow died, if you don’t know what the White Walkers are, that’s not my problem,” said Washington Redskins tight end Niles Paul, referencing a character who appeared to die in the last episode and a new breed of villains that were a focal point of the most recent season. “It means you aren’t a fan and you don’t watch the show.”

Damn, ruthless, but I agree. The season ended in June. You should be all caught up by now. If you aren’t, deal with it.

“When we are away from the field and want to get away, we want to talk about [‘Game of Thrones’],” said Cleveland Browns guard John Greco, one of the few NFLers who actually watched the show as it aired at his wife’s insistence and did not binge-watch between training sessions. But then Greco noticed Gary Barnidge, a Browns tight end, “covering his ears or head out the other way.”

That’s because Barnidge is still a season behind on the show. Like most players, his schedule of workouts and traveling means he can’t keep up with the show in real-time. Despite having the longest off-season in sports, NFL players have shockingly little free time. This dynamic creates a locker room where everyone is at different points in the show. “I want to finish, I want to be a part of these conversations,” Barnidge said.

Some have gone to drastic measure to be included.

Pressure to keep up with the show and avoid spoilers is such that Paul said that his teammate, running back Silas Redd, watched “four or five episodes” the first night of camp in Richmond, Va.

Yet just as the NFL is a cold business, so too are some players’ positions on spoilers.

Many players have no sympathy for those like Barnidge, and that’s creating awkwardness.

Washington offensive lineman Kory Lichtensteiger is harsher than his teammate Paul: “I’ll wait a couple of days,” he said. “But I mean, if you haven’t watched it by then, close your ears. Earmuffs. I want to talk about it.”

Lest you think all NFLers are unforgiving and heartless, many were taken aback by the events of the season finale.

When Jon Snow died, we were hurt, very hurt,” Paul said when characterizing the Redskins’ feelings of the finale. “but I’ve been following the theories on the Internet so they’ve got to bring him back.”

NFL players. I guess they really are just like us.