Right as practice was about to conclude Friday afternoon, a fight broke out on the field where multiple players gathered into a circle to try and break each other up. Two players ended up on the ground, and the scene capped off an intense day in Latrobe during day three of training camp.
When asked about the fight specifically in the post-practice press conference, Mike Tomlin seemed disinterested in diving into the details.
“You guys have been around me long enough to know that I’m not going to answer questions about every skirmish that breaks out,” Tomlin said after practice according to video from Jeff Hathhorn of 93.7 The Fan. “We’re competing our tails off. An environment like this is an opportunity to teach and learn, not only from a competitive standpoint but a professional standpoint, working to keep it professional. From time to time, it happens. None of us like it, but it’s a teaching opportunity. So, that will be my response anytime you guys ask me about a skirmish.”
Tomlin was fully transparent about the situation that broke out on the football field Friday afternoon, recognizing that the event happened and hopes that it was a learning opportunity for all parties involved. When grown men go against each other day after day in a physical game like football, tempers are bound to rise. When left unchecked these tempers tend to boil over leading to fights breaking out, as Alex Kozora witnessed first-hand and tweeted about while at Latrobe.
The two main figures that appeared to be in the middle of the skirmish were DL Carlos Davis and OL Jake Dixon. Davis ran off the sideline and put Dixon into the ground, causing the breakout. Something must have gotten under Davis’s skin enough to have him charge the field and push Dixon to the turf, but even so, those actions aren’t called for by teammates.
Tomlin recognizes this but insists that the general public doesn’t make it a bigger issue that it needs to be. He called the rest of the team over as practice concluded and likely addressed the issue at-hand, looking to end it then and there rather than having it fester over and turn a bad play into a bad practice tomorrow.
Tomlin has established a culture in Pittsburgh where the players understand what the standard is, and if they don’t abide by that standard, they not only have to answer to him, but also the leaders of the team like Cam Heyward and T.J. Watt. For Davis, Dixon, and all other involved in the fight today, it will be an opportunity to learn and grow from what happened on the practice field and leave the rest in the past. Ultimately, those guys are battling to keep their jobs and try to make the team, so battling with one another after the play is over will do little to boost their chances.