If the NFL wanted to get serious about curbing in-camp fights, they had the right people on hand to do something about it.
Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones and Rams coach Jeff Fisher were there for last night’s melee between the teams during a joint practice, and both expressed the kind of official disapproval you’d expect after practice had to be cut short.
“I can’t imagine that we can’t continue to have joint practices and get this right just like we do a lot of things,” Jones said, via Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com. “But we’re going to have to continue to emphasize that stuff is not what we want. It should not be a part of our game. It’s not good for either team. Obviously, there are huge injury risks. We’ve just got to learn from it. I’d hate to think two teams can’t get together.
“When you see the energy level out here with the fans, they enjoy it, watching the teams play. I do think we can continue to do this. I just think we have to emphasize we don’t want this in our game.”
Of course, defining the “it” the fans enjoy might prove to be a stickier problem. Perhaps there’s just a segment of the fan base (and of the players and coaches) that enjoys it like fights in hockey, or the wrecks in NASCAR. And because of the intense interest these fights draw, it’s hard to be certain the league is really against them (since they’ve done nothing beyond sending a memo of disapproval using many serious words).
“There is no excuse for it,” Fisher said, after parking his team on a side field while the Cowboys finished their work alone. “You can’t blame it on anybody. It just happened. Fortunately, nobody got hurt.”
Actually, you can blame people. There’s plenty of film. It’s easy to see who punched whom.
“You’ve got to catch it early,” Jones said. “There are no right answers. If there were right answers we would address it and get it fixed. It is a point of emphasis. At the end of the day it comes down to fines and sitting people down for games. Certainly, it’s easier to do in a game. How we handle this situation out here, as a competition committee, as a league, as the Dallas Cowboys, Jason [Garrett], Jerry [Jones] and I have to huddle up and say how we’re going to prevent this in the future.”
Or if they want to.