Over the past week or so, there have been at least three documented fights at the Dallas Cowboys’ training camp. Perhaps this hasn’t been covered as closely as it was this year, but I don’t remember hearing stories like this before, at least not during camp.
…That’s part of camp. The grinding and hitting each other and you know just anger builds up. It’s just like brothers.” – J.J. Wilcox
First, star wide receiver Dez Bryant and cornerback Tyler Patmon were swinging at each other following a pretty aggressive play that resulted in Bryant’s helmet coming off. Sunday, fullback Tyler Clutts and safety Jeff Heath started a brief storm between the offense and defense with their fight.
Safety J.J. Wilcox had this to say to ESPN:
"“It’s counting down the days. We’re getting tired of hitting each other and everybody’s grumpy waking up on the other side of the bed. Just competing. And that’s part of camp. The grinding and hitting each other and you know just anger builds up. It’s just like brothers.”"
Tuesday, during a joint practice with the St. Louis Rams, there was a melee with a bunch of cheap shots, mostly from the Rams. Bryant sprinted into the mix from across the field and ended up getting hit in the face.
This may sound odd, but as a longtime fan I actually like seeing these skirmishes, as long as it doesn’t result in any injuries.
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Yes, I understand that is never a guarantee. Yes, I know that Bryant was given a contract with $45 million in guaranteed money. He is a precious commodity.
But the passion is sure nice to see. This team is gearing up for the real season to begin. They want to hit. They want to hurt somebody. I think it’s a mistake to write these events off as simple immaturity or lack of control.
They know they have a sincere chance at going all the way to Super Bowl 50, and they are ready to fight for it, both literally and figuratively.
Granted, coaches probably feel differently. I’m sure many of the players do, too.
According to team COO Stephen Jones, quarterback Tony Romo ripped into Dez after the first fight. Jones quoted Romo while speaking to the Ben and Skin Show on KRLD-FM:
"“If you break your hand, then I’m going to end up breaking mine, because I’m going to be so mad at you, I’m gonna hit you. So no more of this hitting and no more swinging, let’s move on and get to work.’’"
While Jones probably toned down some of the words, the sentiment is clear. Romo doesn’t want his favorite target to get hurt. Neither do any of us fans, obviously.
However, I would much rather have a fired up athlete like Bryant on the field than someone without emotion. He brings a spark that this team has been missing for a while.
One guy who brought a similar flavor was Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin, who helped the team win three Super Bowls in the 1990’s. He and running back Emmitt Smith were a big part of the spirit of that team.
In 2000, San Francisco 49ers receiver Terrell Owens celebrated a touchdown at Texas Stadium by taking the ball to the Cowboys star at the 50-yard line and stretching his arms out, head up to the sky, relishing the moment.
Later in the game, Smith scored on a running play, then ran to the star and slammed the ball onto the star, reclaiming it. Owens tried to do the same thing after a subsequent touchdown, and he was hit hard by Cowboys safety George Teague. A brawl ensued with several players.
You can enjoy reliving that memory here.
Irvin even made a video last season that they played during the playoff game against the Detroit Lions called “Finish the Fight”. If you are a fan, I would suggest watching this one.
Passion for winning is a good thing. Competitiveness is a necessary trait in pro football for teams that matter.
This team matters. Bring on the real opponents. I hope we see this type of fire all year.