Fights during offseason workouts used to simply provide a break in the shorts-and-T-shirts monotony. Now, they could be providing evidence of potential violations of the offseason rules against live contact.
And the next team to find that out the hard way could be the hard-luck Saints.
The Seahawks lost a pair of OTA days on Tuesday, based presumably on rough play that preceded a series of skirmishes last month during a voluntary practice. Receiver Doug Baldwin reportedly was hit hard by safety DeShawn Shead. KJR’s Curtis Crabtree said during Wednesday’s PFT Live that a hit on receiver Ben Obamanu also triggered a fracas that same day.
On Wednesday, tempers ran high at Saints minicamp, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. It happened after linebacker Curtis Lofton landed on quarterback Chase Daniel after an interception. Daniel threw the ball down, it hit Lofton, other players got involved (as the photo Rapoport posted on Twitter shows), and Daniel shouted, “Don’t hit the quarterback!“
Daniel later explained the reaction. “We really only have three quarterbacks there, so we don’t like to get hit at all,” Daniel said. “Because the slightest of hits can cause a serious injury as we’ve seen. It wasn’t necessary in frustration, I was just mad that he literally just ran into it. We cleared it up, we’re good. Everything’s good to go. It’s hot, we’re in the middle of practice, emotions flying everywhere and that’s what happened.”
Lofton offered up his version of the events. “I thought [Daniel] was going to throw it, I jumped up, I kinda grazed him and quarterbacks are a little touchy when it comes to stuff like that,” Lofton said. “And then I was walking away and he gave me the look like . . . I was like, ‘He better not do that.’ And so he threw the ball, it bounced and then it hit me. I had to have words after that.”
It was more than words. It was action. And the action came after, as Daniel admitted, “emotions [were] flying.”
So why, if there’s no live contact, are emotions flying?
Interim coach Joe Vitt tried to laugh it all off. “I think we’ll probably take ‘em to a petting zoo tomorrow,” Vitt said. “Maybe do something like that. But yeah, it was great.”
Fine, but there will be nothing funny about an effort by the NFL and the NFLPA to explore whether and to what extent the fight and the events preceding it constituted live contact. Since the NFL won’t tell anyone exactly what got the Seahawks in trouble, it’s impossible to use anything from that situation as guidance when determining whether the Saints crossed the line.
But “no live contact” apparently now means “no live contact,” and contact during plays that result in contact after plays fits within the normal, common-sense definition of contact. And so it looks like there was something like live contact happening in New Orleans today.