Frequency of fights at Steelers camp grows at alarming rate
Fights happen during training camp.
A shove, push or an occasional punch happens, or as linebacker Larry Foote likes to call them, “camp fights.”
This year, however, they are happening with much more frequency.
And if Sunday was any indication, they are occurring with much more ferocity — and that's gotten the attention of team leaders Ryan Clark and Ben Roethlisberger.
Clark had conversations with Roethlisberger and Ike Taylor to put an end to a potentially damaging issue following two brawls Sunday involving Taylor and receiver Antonio Brown. Taylor suffered a gash under his right eye.
“We can't let our ego get in the way to the point where it hurts the team,” Clark said. “I brought us up afterwards and told them that family fights. But I also told them that we need to be united when we leave this field. We always have been united, and I don't want to lose that by fighting out here.”
There have been at least eight incidents during the first 12 padded practices but none that had the emotion of Sunday's fight between Brown and Taylor.
Not only did it involve two of the Steelers' best players, the altercation went to a level rarely seen among teammates.
The two got into an incident during a 7-on-7 drill that ultimately resulted in Brown taking a swing at Taylor.
“I am a football player, not an UFC fighter or someone trying to fight guys,” Brown said. “I could've been fined; I could've broken my hand — a lot of scenarios could've been really bad.”
But it didn't end there.
After a highly emotional goal-line drill to end practice, Taylor went after Brown in the middle of the field and the two had to be separated by players and general manager Kevin Colbert.
“That's how it is sometimes,” Taylor said. “We are up in Latrobe, tired of seeing each other. We are two highly competitive types of guys, and when you have the same blood type, things are bound to happen.”
Neither Brown nor Taylor would elaborate on the cause of the fight, but the two had to be separated two weeks earlier during a blocking drill involving wide receivers and cornerbacks.
“In the heat of the moment, we let our emotions get the best of us,” Brown said. “But at the end of the day, that's my brother, and just not on the field, but off the field. We have a great relationship that goes far beyond one incident.”
Though coach Mike Tomlin downplayed the incident, it was troubling enough for Clark to go out of his way to have talks with teammates about it and for Brown and Taylor (along with teammate Will Allen) to hash out their differences over breakfast Monday morning at Cafee Davio on the South Side.
“We ironed out our differences, and we know how much we mean to the team — him being the leader of their room and me being a young guy and leader of my room,” Brown said. “(Fighting is) not what our organization is about.”
Further proof that the incident is behind them — Brown was a guest on the “Ike Taylor Show” on TribLive Radio on Tuesday night at Geo's in Latrobe.
“Everything has been cool since that day,” Taylor said. “I look at AB as a little brother of mine.”
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.