Fights in training camp are tradition, just like pulled hamstrings and uncomfortable beds

Karl Walter

Inter-squad fights are always one of the most newsworthy events of an NFL training camp. They may be thuggish, but they're tradition. It's only a question of who it will be between.

It's thuggish, dangerous and in many ways, immature.

But it's so "training camp," it feels like it has to happen; kind of like needing or at least wanting snow on Christmas.

The timeless training camp tradition of brawling with one's teammate has to rank somewhere among stories about bum hamstrings, empty promises about the greatness of an offense and a reporter's bitterness over social media covering camp in terms of likelihood of occurring.

Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward unofficially led the team with three fights during camp last year. The cliche "guys are competitive, it's hot and tempers flare" could have been stenciled above his locker for as many times as reporters grabbed the quote from any one of a dozen Steelers coaches.

Granted, there's a concern someone gets injured during those dust-ups, although the film of most training camp skirmishes are two guys grabbing facemasks while the rest of the team (including the alpha captains who appear to be far more physical than the combatants) dives him to break them up.

It's a wonder why it takes seven guys to pull Heyward off Willie Colon, but just one to block him on a play.

Coaches have to expect it. They may even have a veteran work to get inside the head of a fringe-roster guy, just to see what kind of fire he has. Maybe they even enjoy it a little bit, provided no one is injured, and they give appropriate Bro Hugs later on in the day.

Even if they are borderline staged, they're still entertaining to follow. SB Nation's Broncos site, Mile High Report, tweeted a priceless gem earlier Saturday, one BTSC will absolutely be stealing if and when a fight breaks out.

There's beauty in simplicity. There's even beauty in orchestration. It creates a story, and traffic and all those wonderful stats my bosses send out regularly. More than that, it shows the players are human. I'm not sure about the rest of the BTSC staff, but I was thrown out of several pick-up basketball games as a younger (non) athlete for transgressions occurring between the whistles. That surge of adrenaline and righteousness, as if whatever it is that torqued you off actually matters more than life itself at that moment, is an old, seldom seen but always welcomed friend.

Just as long as it doesn't hang around, the competitors are fine with it crashing on the couch for a quick 20 minute napper.

The Steelers began training camp practice Saturday, so the clock is ticking on the bell for Round 1.

Who's it going to be?

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