Tempers can flare quite a bit when players are working to get ready for the season—whether it’s a veteran hoping to hold onto his job or a rookie looking to make an impact on the roster. Sometimes those players can get too heated in the moment, throwing punches or hitting a bit too hard with a tackle.
And that’s when the lines can blur between football and deleted scenes from Fight Club.
As much as head coaches say they hate fighting, many also praise their players for their “intensity” or “high spirits” afterwards. That said, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has a “no fighting” policy—any players brawling will be thrown out of practice. (As you’ll see, new Patriot Stephon Gilmore learned this the hard way.)
But hey: Football is a physical game “I like the intensity early in practice. I thought we were physical on both sides of the ball,” New York Giants Giants coach Ben McAdoo told NJ.com after his players brawled. “We’re going to turn into a heavy-handed, physical football team. We just have to do a better job of handling the extracurricular activities after the whistle.”
In 2017, possibly because of abundant reporters and fan cameras, there seem to be more fights than usual. But this is nothing new for NFL training camps. Even WWE star Brock Lesnar once got into a fight during training camp with the Minnesota Vikings when he was trying to make it in the NFL back in 2004.
Here are the most intense brawls of 2017 NFL training camps (so far):
9: Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams – Multiple Fights
Joint practices can be a gift and a curse for NFL teams. While it helps to get some new blood for competition and help ratchet things up heading into the season, it also can lead to fights between opponents. The Rams and Chargers found this out at their joint practice, which basically turned into the battle of Los Angeles.
The fight started when Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson shoved Chargers wide receiver Dontrelle Inman, but the real brawl came when Chargers receiver Keenan Allen speared Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman and drove him into the ground.
— Lisa Lane (@LisaLane_Sports) August 10, 2017
There was another fight later in practice, too, which caused a big group of players to come in and break things up:
— Lindsey Thiry (@LindseyThiry) August 10, 2017
8: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Noah Spence and Cole Gardner
During the Bucs’ practice session, defensive end Noah Spence and offensive lineman Cole Gardner got into it following a drill. After Spence jaws with Gardner, the lineman brushes off Spence, who responds by throwing a punch at Gardner’s head (which had a helmet on it.) Gardner swung back before Spence went in for the takedown, after which a group of players swooped in and pulled it apart,
7. Indianapolis Colts – Vontae Davis and Phillip Dorsett
This battle between a veteran (Davis) and a young receiver (Dorsett) got Colts camp heated up after the two scuffled on the field. Davis had the upper hand at first, but Dorsett eventually ends up on top of the veteran corner. Head coach Chuck Pagano ran over to the brawl and later gave his players some words of encouragement—and the official team account even tweeted out the video:
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) August 1, 2017
6. New York Giants – Janoris Jenkins and Eric Pinkins
You don’t usually see two players on the same side of the ball going at each other, but that didn’t matter to Janoris “Jackrabbit” Jenkins of the Giants. In only the third practice of training camp for the Giants, Jenkins and Pinkins got into it during a sprint drill. “You know how it is with families. Sometimes you have some dustups, but some of the best dust-ups you’re ever in [are] with family,” head coach McAdoo said to the New York Daily News. “You learn from it and move on.”
McAdoo on Janoris Jenkins- Eric Pinkins scuffle during conditioning drills pic.twitter.com/2ugtlW7wzP
— Justine Ward (@JustineBWard) July 30, 2017
5. Seattle Seahawks – Germain Ifedi and Frank Clark
Frank Clark has been a nuisance teammate for some of his on-field antics since joining the Seahawks, and this fight didn’t do him any favors. After a fight between offensive lineman Will Pericak and defensive tackle Rodney Coe, Clark punched Ifedi while Ifedi wasn’t wearing a helmet, which triggered another scuffle between a larger group of players.
“It’s not OK, and it shouldn’t be part of it,” head coach Pete Carroll said to ESPN. “You can’t do it in a game. You get ejected—just what you saw happened. Somebody can get hurt, which you saw happen. So we’ve taken a big stance against it and are really disappointed that it happened on Day 4 here.”
— Joshua Hebert (@TacomaHebert) August 4, 2017
4. New York Giants – Damon Harrison and Bobby Hart
One fight wasn’t enough for the New York Giants in training camp. This time around, it was offense vs. defense, as offensive lineman Bobby Hart and defensive stud Damon “Snacks” Harrison got into a melee. It was one of multiple scuffles between Giants players in practice that day, including some shoving between lineman Justin Pugh and linebacker Devon Kennard.
3. Cincinnati Bengals – Vontaze Burfict and Giovani Bernard
Already known around the league for pushing the limit of the rules—and sometimes going past them—linebacker Vontaze Burfict didn’t help his reputation with this fight against running back Giovani Bernard. Things started when Burfict went low for a tackle at Bernard’s knees, doing so knowing that the running back is recovering from a torn ACL he suffered last season. Put it this way: Burfict’s Bengal teammates were not happy about this one. At the end of practice the two players were seen smiling and talking together, but Bernard may want to watch out in any future practices.
RT thefanaticsview: 👀🏈🤔 Tempers flare at Bengals camp as Vontaze Burfict hits Gio Bernard low in a non-tackle drill pic.twitter.com/iKg8wCHqZR
— Franky Fox (@franktfox) August 2, 2017
2. Minnesota Vikings – Laquon Treadwell and Antone Exum Jr.
This fight looks to be an intense play in which both players did their job—but things simply got out of hand. Wideout Laquon Treadwell went head-to-head with cornerback Antone Exum Jr., making a nice catch in the back of the end zone despite some strong coverage from Exum. Treadwell taunted Exum a bit from the ground, and things continued after the play, with Exum confronting Treadwell, throwing some punches and getting into it on the ground before teammates pulled them away.
VIDEO: Here's the scuffle and the play that led to it w/ Laquon Treadwell and Antone Exum Jr. at this afternoon's Vikes practice pic.twitter.com/8oWnvZhzdA
— Dave Schwartz (@Dave_Schwartz) July 31, 2017
1. New England Patriots – Julian Edelman and Stephon Gilmore
Welcome to the Patriots, Stephon Gilmore. The former Buffalo Bills cornerback signed a big contract with New England during the 2017 offseason, and wideout Julian Edelman was ready to bring him into the Pats family. Edelman took exception to some tight coverage by Gilmore and the two ended up on the ground fighting with each other. Head coach Bill Belichick, in his usual Belichick-ian manner, tossed the players from practice.