Leaner and meaner

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:41 AM ET

George Hopkins remembers a time, not too long ago, when game film was rolled out on 8-mm reels the day after every matchup.

"Now they're looking at it at halftime," shrugs the Stamps equipment manager of the last 34 years.

"It gives them a lot more tools than they had back in the day. It certainly is a different game than when I started."

With an eye on gaining every possible advantage in the chess match that has always been pro football, players are now armed with personal DVD footage of themselves and opponents to peruse at home following team meetings where even more footage is dissected.

It's a luxury Jim Brown, Walter Payton or anyone who played before the '90s never had.

"Also, as the players have gotten bigger, stronger and faster, the equipment has gotten, smaller, lighter and more specialized," said Hopkins.

"That has improved the game, too, without a doubt.

"When I started everything was bigger and heavier -- we've done a complete reversal on that point."

Another advantage today's players have is the fact not only has modern medicine and improved training techniques produced better built athletes but they've also done well to prolong players' careers .

Advancements in turf have also made things better for today's players, with stadiums like McMahon installing FieldTurf, which has proven to cut down injuries significantly over the old surfaces.

All that said, Hopkins figures Cleveland legend Jim Brown was talented enough to dominate against today's athletes.

"He was so good, he could play in any era," said Hopkins

"And he quit on top of his game."


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