The 10 most ridiculous training camp fights
Few traditions in the NFL canon are more treasured than the training camp fight: a loosely tethered purging of frustrations that affords millionaire athletes the rare opportunity to punch a coworker in the facemask with (usually) zero consequences.
The training camp fight is an art form. It requires a careful alchemy that typically pits the holier-than-thou sensibilities of an NFL veteran with the desperate struggles of a dude just entering the professional ranks. Or one pissed off guy against an entire other team.
In any case, the end result is the same: a fracas lasting anywhere from 2 to 40 seconds wherein fists find padding and grown men in the throes of heat exhaustion do their best to twist each other’s heads off.
The following are some of the most ridiculous NFL training camp fights we’ve seen. They are dumb, violent and 100 percent inevitable.
10. Laremy Tunsil vs. Chris McCain
First fight of #Dolphins training camp: Rookie Laremy Tunsil vs. DE Chris McCain.
— Miami Sports Native (@305SportsNative) August 1, 2016
As ceremony dictates, the No. 10 spot here goes to our most recent kerfuffler, Laremy Tunsil — Miami’s be-bong-goggled rookie who cracked the inaugural champagne across the bow of 2016’s crop of training camp fights on Monday with a weak but necessary dustup involving defensive end Chris McCain.
It’s not much, but someone had to cast the die, and in Tunsil we have the first bloom of pent-up testosterone clashes in the training camp pressure cooker.
9. Cam Newton takes Josh Norman down smiling
— Mike Persinger (@mikepersinger) August 10, 2015
A lot of noise was made in 2015 when Cam Newton, of the devout quarterbacking persuasion, had the unruliness within him to clash with then-teammate and defensive back Josh Norman at training camp.
The idea is that the quarterback, clothed in his white robes of leadership, should never sully himself or risk destabilizing the team vis-a-vis actual physical conflict with another member of the organization.
Somehow, however, the Panthers were able to pull themselves together and win a couple games last year.
8. Dez Bryant takes on Tyler Patmon
Dez Bryant is like the Rocky Marciano of training camp fighters — he’s been in his fair share, and he’s gotten pummeled a couple times (more on this later), but he always gives as good as he gets.
And in the case of Dez’s dustup with Tyler Patmon in 2015, he managed to de-helmet the slot cornerback and dip a couple blows after the two came to blows on the sideline.
Patmon, on the other hand, cannot be given enough credit for his "I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS ALL MY DAMN LIFE" double clap when the two formally knuckle up.
7. IK Enemkpali sunders Geno Smith’s Jaw
Took long enough but the Jets locker room footage finally leaked. pic.twitter.com/VQlMaRGgq9
— Dan Carson (@TheDoctorCarson) August 11, 2015
I tried to avoid instances of real harm on this list, because actually hurting your teammate is a terrible thing to do and a great way to ruin someone’s career and/or get sued.
But I have to address one such situation because of its monolithic absurdity, and that is IK Enemkpali breaking Geno Smith’s jaw at training camp in 2015 over a $600 debt.
From an instigatory angle, you won’t find a more patently ridiculous fight — if you can call sucker-punching a dude in the locker room over an issue that is only an issue in your mind a "fight."
6. Vernon Davis refrains from curb-stomping Manny Lawson
I believe this took place in 2006. It was probably 2006.
Whatever the year, this is a vintage deep-cut of a young Vernon Davis going to work on linebacker Manny Lawson and putting him in the ground after a shoving match.
The key here is Vernon’s right leg. Just watch it.
Because the minute Lawson hits the ground, Davis is going for the kick-finish. He stops himself, in what I can only describe as an admirable exhibition of restraint. Because anyone who’s ever been jumped and/or in a grimy street fight knows the kick-that-dude maneuver is a surefire to end things quickly.
5. Richard Sherman vs. everyone
See above title.
4. Pierre Garcon vs. the Houston Texans
Thanks to the good people at HBO, we have cinema-quality footage and sound of Pierre Garcon locking horns with and taunting the entire Houston Texans defense.
The incident happened during a joint team scrimmage between Houston and Washington and ended with Garcon christening J.J. Watt with a new, NSFW nickname.
Pierre Garcon is a madman.
3. Cowboys vs. the Rams
In the pantheon of great intersquad throwdowns, Rams and the Cowboys minted a gem in 2015 that involved all the staples of a good training camp brawl, including but not limited to:
Oh, and, of course: Dez Bryant full-on eating one in the background:
2. Raiders versus the Cowboys
Another beautiful moment in intersquad training camp fisticuffs, this gem from 2014 only outdoes the Cowboys’ last throwdown because the disrespectful nature of Morris Claiborne’s step-over on Oakland’s Mychal Rivera.
There’s no need for this fight. Which is why it’s perfect
1. Michael Westbrook admonishes Stephen Davis with his fists
An oldie, a goodie. Probably naked assault.
Michael Westbrook seemingly punishing his Redskins teammate Stephen Davis with several well-measured fists to the dome is an indelible image of training camp fight history. It’s violent, quick and completely unnecessary.
No one was gravely hurt, however, and no one seems to know how it started. Which makes it even better, really.
Dan is on Twitter. You learn a lot about life the first time someone punches you super hard in the face.