The problems involved with practicing a fast, violent game predicated on contact under rules prohibiting contact popped up again on Thursday at Cowboys minicamp.
It seems several members of the Cowboys were either angry that minicamp was ending or angry that they had to practice on the final day when teams like the Patriots and Steelers weren’t working on the field because there was some “chippy play” going on at practice. Those are the words Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com used to describe a scrap between running back DeMarco Murray and defensive end Jason Hatcher. Archer’s colleague Calvin Watkins also tweeted that Hatcher looked like he wanted to fight the whole offense and Bryan Broaddus of the team’s website opined that “if NFL is watching, they might lose some practices with way this is going.”
There’s a fair chance that the NFL will take a look. Fights at practice contributed to the penalties against the Seahawks earlier this month and they also got the league to look into the Saints’ level of compliance after reports of fights at their minicamp caught the NFL’s attention.
This isn’t the first report we’ve seen of some high-spirited behavior at Cowboys practice. Mike Sando of ESPN.com also found some questionable stuff on a tape of practice posted on the Cowboys website. As Florio pointed out in a post earlier this week, “live contact” is banned at minicamps, just as it was at OTAs when the Seahawks were found to be on the wrong side of the line.
We have no idea if the Cowboys violated league rules in either instance and that’s part of the problem with the rule. The league mandates video of each practice session, but only reviews it if there is a report of wrongdoing. Unless they review every tape of every practice and make it crystal clear what constitutes “live contact,” it is hard to feel like the rule is being evenly and correctly applied.