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Original Issue


It's no day at the beach. It's the NFL'S annual version of basic training—four to six sweat-soaked weeks of skull-smashing sessions followed by not-so-smashing skull sessions topped off by curfew. And the players used to do this for free; no wonder they have a union. Here the L.A. Raiders, who reached for the stars last season, reach for their toes at their Santa Rosa, Calif. campground.

Trays from the training table, which is better suited to gluttons than gourmets, help give the campers a big lift.

These Cowboys only wish they were riding off into the sunset at Thousand Oaks, Calif. Instead, they're gearing up for the long road ahead.

A towel's usually welcome in the heat of training camp, but the Cowboys use them in pull-ups to make muscles burn.

At Camp Raider, the troops take any seat they can find when there's a break in the head-knocking.

When the temperature hits 89° in the shade, cool aid can come in the form of on-the-field showers.

Injuries are commonplace, so teams work much of the time at half speed and in half gear, as the Rams are doing (far right) in Fullerton, Calif.

These 49ers have found that the only way to beat the heat at their Rocklin, Calif. camp is a postpractice pool plunge.

Baseball is still a big part of the sports scene when the Cowboys (left) and others start working.

After the off-season, camps like the Chargers' at UC-San Diego are places to unbend in.

The more time the players spend confined in camp, the more their eyes wander to the scene on the sideline.