This offseason has been an unprecedented one for everyone involved in the NFL, but to varying degrees.
Some of the league's elders were around back near the start of the 2010s, when a lockout forced players to find new avenues for offseason training. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was among them, and he's relied on that experience to help guide him through this unusual offseason.
Josh Allen, however, wasn't yet old enough to drive a car back in 2011. This is only his second offseason as a full-time pro, and it's definitely not like the others.
As framed and reported by The MMQB's Albert Breer, Allen's approach has been as much about building relationships as it has been about the on-field work. He began his quarantine in California's Orange County, where he'd been training with fellow NFLers like Sam Darnold and Kyle Allen, and where he was able to get some work in with Bills rookies Zack Moss and Isaiah Hodgins.
The real get-together occurred in Miami, where Allen and nearly 20 skill players from the Bills -- including new receiver Stefon Diggs -- gathered for four days of quality time. The extended weekend together included training at Pete Bommarito's renowned facility, dinner at the Versace Mansion along Ocean Drive, hours of late-night card games at the hotel, more workouts and a round of golf at Melreese Country Club.
There was work, there was play, and most importantly, there was a sense of normalcy in a time seemingly devoid of it.
"Mentally giving guys that feeling of, Football's here, we're back in camp, we're back in OTAs, we're with the guys, we're not worrying about anything else that's going on in the world right now, we're on the field with each other, focusing on one goal, and that's to get better," Allen told Breer. "And to the football aspect, getting that continuity. Really, the only new guy there was Stefon. I have rapport with the other guys. I'd already thrown with the rookies.
"Just trying to get on the same page, just trying to see where everybody is at, I think it gave guys a chance to be like, 'OK, he knows the playbook really well, let me talk to him.' Or in other cases, 'He knows how to run routes really well, let me talk to him,' and Stefon and John [Brown] and Cole [Beasley] were very informative to the younger guys, showing them what works for them, how to run routes. It was a great time."
This offseason will finish without any league-sanctioned in-person activities, something we haven't been able to say since 2011. That year, football's arrival depended solely on the ability to negotiate labor peace. It's not exactly possible to negotiate with an ongoing pandemic.
The league will forge onward, though, and even if it might look a little different, it will still be football. That, above all, is what players like Allen are looking forward to most.
"Oh man, I can't wait for football," he said. "The 11-on-11, that itself, is what I'm most looking forward to, being on the field with my guys. Trying to, I wouldn't say embarrass the opposing team, but impose our will and show how much we worked, and how we worked extremely hard for this situation, and that we gave up a lot and sacrificed a lot to be able to go out and do what we do."