The Patriots have come to West Virginia to join the Saints for practice sessions, amid a rash of rumbles when separate teams stop hitting themselves and start hitting guys from other teams. Saints coach Sean Payton had a clear message for anyone who decides to mix it up with Patriots players.
Via Jeff Darlington of NFL Media, Payton told players on Tuesday night, “If you decide to fight, pack your bags.”
While obviously not an edict that would apply to quarterback Drew Brees, it’s unlikely that we’ll see Brees going Roadhouse with anyone. Veteran players who value their health realize the importance of not jeopardizing it by swinging fists; the young players are typically the ones who need to learn that extracurricular activities could make it harder to do their jobs.
The potential for fights is believed to be one of the reasons why the Saints passed on joint practices with the Texans are Houston became the epicenter for HBO’s Hard Knocks. There’s no such worry with the Patriots.
“We’ve had a great working relationship with Saints,” New England coach Bill Belichick told reporters on Wednesday, via Darlington. “Players work hard — but they do it right way.”
Too many teams have been doing it the wrong way this year, and it’s going to continue until teams or the league office crack down on it.