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Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Jets among infamous training camp brawls

By Patrick Dorsey


Football. It's a violent sport. Skirmishes happen -- especially during training camp.

But sometimes -- such as on Monday, when about 20 New York Jets players rumbled toward the media and fan areas -- these incidents are a little bigger than just a player or two working out their differences for a few minutes.

So Playbook looks back at eight of the most infamous training camp fights and brawls:

1. D'Anton Lynn, Joe McKnight and many more Jets, 2012: Per ESPN New York's Rich Cimini's report, Lynn, a safety, pushed McKnight, a running back, during a play. McKnight then threw his helmet at Lynn, whose father, Anthony, happens to be the Jets' running backs coach. This kicked off a battle that featured tens of Jets -- some fighting, some (like Tim Tebow) trying to stop the whole thing. It eventually subsided, and the younger Lynn later quipped that his father "was probably rooting for Joe."

2. DeMeco Ryans & Jeremy Shockey, 2009: A scrimmage between the Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints led to a fight between the two Pro Bowlers. We could describe it, but why not watch it for yourself?

3. Steve Smith & Ken Lucas, 2008: Smith, the hot-tempered Carolina Panthers receiver, turned violent against cornerback Lucas during an in-practice fight, punching him in the face and breaking his nose. It landed Smith a two-game suspension in the regular season, but Lucas responded diplomatically despite missing a few weeks himself.

4. Michael Westbrook & Stephen Davis, 1997: Another quite violent incident saw Davis allegedly send a slur in his Washington teammate's direction, and the receiver responded by pummeling the running back in front of local TV cameras. It earned Westbrook a $50,000 fine.

5. Jon Runyan & Jeremiah Trotter, 2000: Not a widely known brawl, but it featured a large left tackle and a large but considerably smaller linebacker, plus a fantastic description courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer: "It was a full-on hockey-style fight, with punches thrown and teammates rushing in from every direction to jump into the fray. Head coach Andy Reid went wading into the fray to try to restore order. The sight of Reid among all that turmoil brought Anthony 'Butch' Buchanico -- former Philadelphia police officer and club director of security -- into the action. ... 'The bigger they are, the harder they fall," Trotter said afterward. "I don't back down from anybody.'"

6. Bill Romanowski & Marcus Williams, 2003: Hardly amusing, this one resulted in the end of Williams' career, when Oakland teammate Romanowski pulled off his helmet and fractured his eye socket and damaged his brain. Williams later sued Romanowski and won a $340,000 judgment.

7. Roger Staubach & Clint Longley, 1976: At the Dallas Cowboys' camp in Thousand Oaks, Calif. -- so the story goes -- Staubach beat Longley in a fight between starting and backup quarterbacks. So Longley responded by sucker-punching the legendary signal-caller in the locker room. As the story continues, this got Longley traded.

8. Nick Saban & Keith Bostic, late 1980s: From that previously linked Houston Chronicle story comes another great tale, featuring one of today's most powerful college coaches. In the words of Chronicle writer John McClain:

Defensive backs coach Nick Saban got tired of strong safety Keith Bostic falling asleep in meetings. Head coach Jerry Glanville told Saban to get in Bostic's face the next time he fell asleep.

Saban did as Glanville suggested, but Bostic came flying out of his chair and went after Saban, and both crashed to the floor before they were separated.