Training camp fights are not uncommon in joint team practices in the NFL. But in this day and age of social media and camera phones it’s a little harder to keep under wraps the melees and scuffles between teams from being exposed to the public. In two weeks, there has been video footage of two joint practices that have ended early due to a brawl breaking out. A week and a half ago the Texans and Redskins got into it in the middle of practice, and on Tuesday the Rams and Cowboys in the middle of drills had a fight break out on back to back plays, which begs the question, should the competition committee look to start fining and/or suspending players?
The NFL has profited greatly from fines to players for their unsportsmen-like conduct on the field; trying to eliminate fighting in games a point of emphasis this year. Why training camp wasn’t fights part of the discussion of terms? This is anyone’s guess.
Tuesday’s brawl was ignited by 5th year and former 7th round pick Cowboys linebacker Andrew Gachkar and 2nd year 7th round pick Rams center Demetrius Rhaney, which then led to a multi-pronged fight with a number of players, including the Cowboys’ Randy Gregory, Jeff Heath, Tyler Patmon and the Rams’ Jared Cook, Tre Mason, Tavon Austin and with others jumping in. Defensive end Eugene Sims ran across the field and leveled Cowboys defensive end Ben Gardner, which spilled over to the fan area was blocked off.
A play later, a second fight came that lasted a few minutes and led to a helmet-less Dez Bryant receiving a right hook to his face by Rams cornerback Imoan Claiborne. Rams rookie running back Todd Gurley, who is coming back from a torn ACL also was involved in the brawl.
Coaches Jason Garrett for the Cowboys and Jeff Fisher for the Rams consequently ended practice, which led to the Cowboys finishing drills against each other and the Rams sitting on the adjoining field waiting to get on the team buses.
Afterwards, Jeff Fisher commented, “There is no excuse for it,” Fisher said. “You can’t blame it on anybody. It just happened. Fortunately, nobody got hurt.”
Garrett, who is a fiery guy himself wasn’t pleased with his team’s performance on Monday, didn’t completely discourage the fight on Tuesday. Garrett didn’t offer any comment regarding the melee; did give ssome insight to his players according to Jeremy Mincey.
“Way to show fight,” said Mincey of Garrett’s post-practice input. “It’s always good to show fight, but we got to be composed in situations like that and stay away from that. Fight with the pads and focus on the game.”
Dez Bryant, who is nursing a hamstring strain and did not practice, found himself in the middle of the fracas, running to the aid of his defensive teammates from the other field; much like he did in the first fight with Patmon. But he could not let it go and continued to yell at Rams players, which eventually reignited things.
“You’ve got to catch it early,” Cowboys Executive VP Stephen Jones said, commenting on the matter. “There are no right answers. If there were right answers we would address it and get it fixed. It is a point of emphasis. At the end of the day it comes down to fines and sitting people down for games. Certainly, it’s easier to do in a game. How we handle this situation out here, as a competition committee, as a league, as the Dallas Cowboys, Jason, Jerry (Jones) and I have to huddle up and say how we’re going to prevent this in the future.”