As football teams return to the field for the 2015 season, practice, heat and effort are put on the front burner of many coaches’ minds as they prepare for game one. Most hope to get most of their playbook in before their first game, keeping players hydrated and injury-free and seeing the maximum amount of effort from each player through camp. But as Tuesday’s altercation exemplified, effort and work can be overshadowed by off the field issues as New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith will have to miss the first six to 10 weeks of the season due to a fight in the locker room.
This isn’t the first time this season that players have tussled on or off the field. Last week, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton got in a scuffle with a defensive back — on his own team, of course — during practice that caused a massive pile. The Houston Texans and Washington Redskins got into several fights during an inter-team practice and Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant got into a skirmish with teammate cornerback Tyler Patmon.
It’s just boys being boys, right?
Training camp practice fights seem to be common in the NFL where being an athlete looking to make a name for himself and vying for a spot with the team increases competition and tempers run hot.
In my opinion, a sport that constantly has players slam into each other does not need any other unnecessary contact. As any player or coach should know, hitting should be legal and done between whistles.
The players in the NFL tell their fans that when they ask for a contract extension or an increase in pay that it is just a business. My question is what “business” allows their employees to get into shoving matches, fights or curse at each other in front of their consumers? I certainly know that none of the jobs that I have had condone name calling and fistfights.
Over the last week, the M State Spartan football team has went into camp with high intensity, battling heat and mosquitoes. As the offensive coordinator, I have yet to see a shoving match or a player discourage another during practice. Though the student-athletes are battling for a starting spot on offense or defense, each player realizes that football is played with more than one, 11 or 22 players. Football is a game. The players understand that and worry more about coming together as a team and preparing for our first opponent.
I have engaged in friendly competitive banter with our defensive coordinator about who will best the other during that particular practice. Our players get in on it, as well, but know who when they leave the field they are still a team. Good plays are praised and bad ones are constructively fixed.
I guess I will never understand coaches that promote the idea of allowing players to engage in fights during practice. Players build chemistry together, not haymakers. I hope the recent wave of fights will be the last we will hear about them (until next season).
Zach Stich is the Sports Editor at The Daily Journal.