NFL should be alarmed by Cowboys-Raiders brawl


On Saturday, Ravens coach John Harbaugh suggested that the media engage in a “self-check” when reporting on training-camp fights.  Not many “self-checks” occurred on the practice field Tuesday in California, when the Cowboys and Raiders launched into a full-blown brawl.

The brawl, which resulted in a dogpile against the low-security fence separating the players from the crowd, culminated in a fan swinging a helmet at Cowboys cornerback B.W. Webb, and Webb attempting to retaliate.

The league-owned TV network failed to engage in an appropriate “self-check” when displaying images of the brawl, omitting any mention of fan involvement, and ultimately downplaying the whole thing as a “camaraderie builder.”

The only place an incident like builds camaraderie is the NFL’s legal department.

The league’s lawyers likely find the images horrifying.  Not because of what happened, but because of what could have happened.  The fan could have struck and injured Webb.  Webb could have struck and injured the fan.  Webb and other members of the Cowboys could have gone into the crowd and started beating on people, Pacers-Pistons style.

Apart from the potential involvement of fans in a setting where security is far more lax than it is at games, at some point a brawl among players becomes a violation of the personal-conduct policy, which expressly prohibits workplace violence.  Nine years ago, Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth received a five-game suspension for taking a cleat to the head of Cowboys center Andre Gurode.  At what point does a guy emerge from the kind of scrum that happened on Tuesday with a similar injury?

Good lawyers (and the NFL has good lawyers) worry about the worst-case scenario before it happens and plan for ways to avoid it.  On Tuesday, a worst-case scenario was avoided not by planning but by dumb luck and a last-ditch “self-check” that kept players from creating a scene that would have made the league long for the P.R. fallout from the Ray Rice suspension.

88 responses to “NFL should be alarmed by Cowboys-Raiders brawl

  1. Think about it: Cowboys players plus Raiders fans … Possibly the worst combination you could have.

  2. Suspend both teams 90% of us would be happy to see both these disgraceful teams who are poorly represented by ego maniacal owners out of the nfl.

  3. Of course they should be. Players fighting teammates is one thing. Even opposing players fighting is to be controlled, but fan involvement cannot be tolerated.

    Spectators are there to watch and trying to be part of the show is what should be STOPPED. Any fan who crosses the line deserves what he gets. Players should not be punished for retaliating when attacked by a fan.

    Stupid fans are the problem in all sports. Ron Artest was right and the fan who threw the beer should have been arrested.

  4. Fights?!?! During training camp?!?! OH NOES!!!!

    I guess the media found it’s next thing to obsess over this year. lol @ “workplace violence”. This is what its come to? Scuffles have happened in training camps at every level of the game for years upon years. Just a bunch of rabble rousing.

    And if you’re going to be completely over reactionary and worried about fights spilling over into the fans, put in some more separation from the field. Not that difficult.

  5. I really don’t get why this is such a big deal. 2 teams practicing in the heat, the egos involved. And a stupid(Raider) fan swings a helmet at a Cowboys player.

    So what else is new?

  6. I was there when it happened yesterday. As a life-long Raiders fan I am disappointed by the guy that went swinging with his helmet. He is not representative of the overwhelming majority of Raider Nation. I’m not sure if the police on hand were able to address this with that “fan” or not, but I sure hope they did. It’s guys that do stuff like that, that will prevent public events like that to happen in the future.

  7. I’m against fighting in camp, unless its the Atlanta Falcons, because they are on Hard Knocks and they are miked up with a bunch of awesome close up HD footage – Atlanta – Please fight!

  8. Don’t make more out of this than it is. As someone who attends Patriots training camp every year, the last thing we need is the NFL closing public access to training camps because of concerns over fan lawsuits. There was no reason whatsoever to suggest that there was any prospect that the Cowboys would “start beating on people.” It’s easy to rant about what “could” have happened. Anything “could” happen, including dire and fatal circumstances. But let’s focus on what actually happened, and the likelihood of actual injuries happening to fans, instead of instantly jumping to worst case scenarios. Let’s not spoil training camp for those of us who don’t have season tickets.

  9. Jerry plans to meet reporters at the local mall bathroom to discuss this. Wait til the back door opens and the “ladies” exit and give him a few minutes to collect his thoughts. I’m sure he will clear it up.. The cowboys misrepresented. That’s all

  10. Puh, lawyers. Who cares what lawyers think? Lawyers are ruining this league (and this country – most politicians start out as lawyers).

    “What could have happened…”

    Soon we’ll be convicting people of pre-crimes.

    Jumping to “worst-case scenario” hysteria over every single anomalous event is reactionary and kneejerk and short-sighted – it is definitely not a sensible way to develop sound policy for the NFL, or anywhere.

  11. Let me just say something. Not a fan of either team. But I’ve been to that Oxnard training camp facility where the Cowboys have been practicing. Oxnard has a wonderful beach community, the weather is incredible, but is well known for gang activity and is the worst part of the Ventura County in terms of crime rate. Knowing that the Raiders were coming to town, I would have had no desire to go to that practice with my kids if I were a fan of EITHER team.

    I’m surprised we haven’t heard worse news yet.

  12. I see a few references here made about the “Malice in the Palace”. I still maintain to this day that that only happened because of inadequate security. The fan throwing the beer should have been identified and immediately escorted out of the arena. In addition, Ron Artest never should have made it off the court and into the stands.

  13. I would like to suggest the following revision to the article…

    “Webb and other members of the Cowboys could have gone into the crowd and started beating on people, Charlestown Chiefs style.”

  14. Bill Romanowski actually ended a teammates’ career in a practice fight. Ripped his helmet off an punched him in the face so hard it crushed his eye socket.

  15. I dont think anyone advocatres players going after/fighting fans, but come on, that guy swung a helmet at a player. What is he supposed to do, respond with harsh language? Honestly, I wish Web had cleaned that dudes clock, for swinging a helmet at him. Get your ass back on the otherside of the fence, fan.

  16. It seems that they were trying to get fans “tuned in” in order justify the Los Angeles trip.

    Dallas should stop the LA trips. The Raiders need to start them.

  17. if fans don’t want to get their butt kicked they shouldn’t swing at the player. That makes it fair game. Ever see what happens to a fan that jumps into the penalty box in hockey. Pummelled.

    why on earth would a fan mess with an NFL player.

    I hope that every judge would throw it out of court if the fan attacked the player first.. Idiots.

    Also… Don’t think for a second that the player isn’t endangered in this scenario… Monica Seles was stabbed by a spectator. If someone comes at you you have to defend yourself.

  18. ….
    …………Indiana players went into the stands beating on the fans…..not the Pistons

  19. Goodell is a natural. He belongs in the White House with his ability to use his state-run TV to tell the “story”. Wait, maybe he’d be better off in the Kremlin.

  20. Suspend the players involved. As many as can be found to have had a part in this. This is a big way to stop this in the future. All involved one week off from traing camp or first week in season. Put the teams on the spot. Do this and all the teams will know it has to stop. This impedes training camp with missing players or if at the start of the season can most likely put a X in the loss column for a team hurting the chances of a playoff spot.

  21. At first watching it I thought it was terrible that a fan would do that!! But after seeing another clip that’s came out of what happened I probably would of done the same thing!! 4 Cowboys on MJD!! Look up the other clip and see yourself!!!

  22. I’m listening to that idiot Skip Bayless defend the fan saying that he could file a lawsuit for getting punched. I have two words for you, Monica Seles. What happens if another brawl leaks over near the fans and say a Drew Brees, or a Tom Brady is involved and some fan has a knife and decides to use it? The fan should be held responsible, he reached over the divider he got what was coming to him. If Webb reacted the same way because the fan said something to him, that’s a different story.

    If the NFL doesn’t react to this situation then they deserve to have to whats coming if a fan brings a weapon and a star player is involved. Because it seems the only guaranteed time you’ll get the leagues attention is when said event happens and the league loses money because of it.

  23. Let’s review the tape. Rivera takes the pass, turns up field and what transpires is a very “standard” football play. Rivera gets up and pushes the guy then walks away. Now, another Raider takes offense, maybe because their was supposed to be no tackling to the ground. The play on it’s own was rather pedestrian. Calling it a brawl??? No punches thrown, a bunch of guys dog piling and then separating.

    Now if a fan “wants” to get involved…whatever happens is on them. that’s just plain idiotic.

    This really isn’t much of a story when you actually see the play and the aftermath. Hell, Bennett for the Bears body slammed his own teammate to the ground. This wasn’t even close to that.

  24. Unfortunately this is the way the NFL and most pro sports are heading. It is what happens when you have a bunch of young boys who are raised in an environment with no father.

  25. The camp fight hysteria is incredibly overblown. There’s always concern from sports media figures about injuries and/or team chemistry.

    The problem with the hysteria is that nobody ever gets injured from these scuffles and sometimes two guys that don’t like each other need to have it out before they can actually be teammates/friends. Guys that have played football know this.

    Fans getting involved in the melee on the other hand? Not so good.

    Gotta love Oaktown fans.

  26. Both organizations are lousy…mainly due to their late owner/current owner.

    Jerrah is the current day Al Davis. As such, the Cowboys will not win anything until he’s dead.

  27. Speaking of fighting, I wonder if current events in St. Louis will have any impact on the Packers/Rams game this weekend. Has the league looked into the matter and taken any precautions???

  28. If the Raiders weren’t involved this story probably wouldn’t have even been posted.

    I’d rather talk about how Khalil Mack blew by Tyron Smith a couple of times yesterday in 1 on 1 drills.

    Word is that hadn’t happened to Smith all camp long.

  29. Um that would be “Pacers style” not “Pistons style” considering it was Pacers players going into the crowd to fight fans at the Palace. There’s a pretty big difference there and you should get it right.

  30. Any time a fan purposely crosses the line from spectator to participant, they deserve what they get.

    Teams should and do have very strict rules about incidents where fans come on to the field of play during games. Those people who run out onto the field during games are prosecuted without remorse.

    The same rules should apply to fans that are allowed at open practices.

  31. People just need to man up lol. Bunch of babys. When the fans have guns and weapons thats when you talk. He pushed him with a helmut not “swung” it. Its football. These men arent babys, maybe Divas. But not babys.

  32. Piston style? Come on, if you’re gonna call out another team for something that happened years ago at least get team right. Very weak.

  33. NFL should be alarmed? The NFL should be alarmed that after the “brawl”, four cowboys stayed on top of Maurice jones drew. When they finally got up that’s what caused the fan to swing at Webb. Gotta love when no one actually watches the video before commenting.

  34. I’m not surprised that Harbaugh condones this kind of behavior. He still thinks Ray Rice is a great guy and that his punishment was appropriate.

  35. If a fan is willing to take a swing at a player, he should expect to get decked by that player. Why anyone would think it’s okay to attack a player on the other team is beyond me. I wish Webb had hit that fan just to deter other fans from trying to get involved with what’s going on on the field

  36. Maybe the cowboys should think about moving camp back to San Antonio, since Jerry feels that is cowboy turf……because Oxnard is clearly Raider turf.

  37. this is the most excitement either of these teams will generate this season.

    as a raider fan i had high hopes for reggie but his tenure in oakland has been nothing but terrible. and why again was dennis allen chosen to be the head coach?

  38. Is it considered ‘bullying’ that the coaches in Tennessee forced Justin Hunter’s to wear ‘Just Another Guy’ on his jersey??? I’m actually surprised that Goodell hasn’t fined or suspended someone on the Titans for workplace harassment.

    Bullying in the NFL….What a joke!!! Maybe coaches & GM’s should go to sensitivity training so that they don’t hurt players feelings when they get cut. In short Jonathan Martin is a tool.

  39. “raidersfourlife says:
    Aug 13, 2014 12:01 PM
    People just need to man up lol. Bunch of babys. When the fans have guns and weapons thats when you talk. He pushed him with a helmut not “swung” it. Its football. These men arent babys, maybe Divas. But not babys.”

    Why are not surprised one bit that this post was “written” by a Raiders fan?

  40. “ketchupaholic says:
    Aug 13, 2014 11:18 AM
    Unfortunately this is the way the NFL and most pro sports are heading. It is what happens when you have a bunch of young boys who are raised in an environment with no father.”
    What the …? So fathers in the home, mean young men don’t fight? Does that include when all those fathers in the home start wars and send those same young men to foreign soil to FIGHT?

    WHAT ARE YOU ON? They learned fighting as conflict resolution 101, from those fathers.

  41. flexx91 says:
    Aug 13, 2014 1:42 PM
    I guess I would be frustrated and upset too (as a fan) if my team’s offense was being manhandled by the Cowboys’ defense.
    – – – – – – — — – – – – –

    funny in the video link it looks like the pass play from schuan to rivera appeared to be about a 15 yard gain past the first down marker….but I guess a cowboy fan would state that their “D” is dominant giving up 15 yards play

  42. Typical commentary coming from someone who has never played the game. Both coaches said the two days were “electric”, from a team and fan perspective. Ask any of those that attended the two day joint practise (and I know 3 that did), they will it was a highlight NFL experience for them. All you need to do is push the fences 10yrds back. But let’s not get to “liberal” about this. I’m a big time liberal myself, but football is football, and it’s the way.most like it.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!