Do NFL Training-Camp Fights Matter?

As part of the team’s continuing effort to dominate the NFL offseason and preseason,* the New York Jets are attracting additional national media attention for fights among players in training camp.

I realize this is the time of year when we find ourselves watching backups playing backups in the second quarter of preseason, and that every minor event of camp must be blown into a huge deal by an increasingly obsessive media. But has anyone ever found a connection between preseason fights and a team’s success in the upcoming season? Is there anything to suggest that a team with some players fighting in the summer sun won’t be playing as a team in autumn and winter?

ESPN’s James Walker argues it’s a sign of a team “out of control.” But former Redskins player Matt Bowen argues “no.”

If, say, a team’s starting quarterback and top receiver start swinging punches at each other, then yes, that would seem problematic for team chemistry in the weeks ahead. But in the case of the Jets, one fight was between a rookie running back (who’s fourth on the depth chart) and a rookie linebacker (who’s third on the depth chart). As long as they’re not injuring each other, they don’t really need to like each other.

(The fact that starting cornerback Antonio Cromartie reportedly took cheap shots at two offensive players, including starting tight end Dustin Keller, is a bigger concern.)

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick seems unconcerned about fights in his team’s training camp. They probably ought to be expected: young men of great strength, competing for a chance at a roster spot and fulfilling their dreams, in a violent sport that involves running into each other and bumping into each other and trying to bring each other to the ground, all done in the hot sun of summer. Why wouldn’t tempers flare?

* Offseason and preseason: dominated. Regular season and postseason: Not-so-dominated.

Most Popular

Immigration

My American Dream

This morning, at 8 a.m., I did something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember: I became an American. I first applied for a visa in early 2011, and since then I have slowly worked my way through the system — first as a visa-holder, then as a permanent resident (green card), and, finally, as a ... Read More
U.S.

The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More
Religion

Billy Graham: Neither Prophet nor Theologian

Asked in 1972 if he believed in miracles, Billy Graham answered: Yes, Jesus performed some and there are many "miracles around us today, including television and airplanes." Graham was no theologian. Neither was he a prophet. Jesus said "a prophet hath no honor in his own country." Prophets take adversarial ... Read More