Training camp fights always generate clicks and views but come the summer, they’re a dime a dozen. It’s as much apart of football as blocking and tackle, especially on those hot summer days in Latrobe, PA.
But for Cam Heyward, one fight is more notable than all the others he’s seen (or been involved in). On the latest episode of his Not Just Football podcast, co-host Hayden Walsh asked for the wildest Steelers’ training camp fight Heyward’s ever witnesses.
“I think the AB, Ike T that led to [Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark] jumping in was crazy,” Heyward said. “It was AB and Ike T going back and forth. And then AB started talking to Coach LeBeau. And once he started talking to Coach LeBeau, RC and TP weren’t having it. So one thing led to another, you started hearing Troy talking, it set everybody off.”
Heyward doesn’t mention the exact year of the fight but it appears it occurred in 2012, a couple years before our team of covering each practice. NFL.com offers a recap of what went down at St. Vincent College.
“Bouchette wrote that this fight began when Brown threw a punch at Taylor after the two had been jostling for the ball. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin brushed the incident off, but Colbert met with a few players, including Brown and Taylor, on an adjoining practice field to clear the air.”
However, this was at least the second of fights Brown and Taylor got into that summer so it’s not clear if this is the actual incident Heyward is referring to. This one makes no mention of Troy Polamalu but regardless, it’s clear Brown and Taylor knew how to put on a show and invite a crowd.
Brown and Taylor were two highly confident players at positions that do some of the most trash talking. Both could back up their words with their play and that iron-sharpen-iron mentality helped both, especially Brown, who was an emerging player at the time. Having a quiet player like Polamalu get involved took things to a different level but that’s what happens when someone talks to Dick LeBeau, the team’s beloved defensive coordinator.
In my time covering training camp, there’s been a fair share of good scrums. Two in particular come to mind. In 2018, seeing teddy bear NT Daniel McCullers get into a fight with reserve offensive lineman Parker Collins was genuinely a highlight. For years, McCullers felt too soft and not aggressive enough like his hulking frame suggested. It felt a little different that year, even if his career ultimately never took that next step forward.
In 2022, watching Carlos Davis run from the sidelines and onto the field to pummel OT Jake Dixon, who was mixing it up with Davis’ brother Khali, was a wild sight. It’s common to see players on the field get tangled up. I’ve never seen someone come off the sidelines and blindside someone like that. But that was one Davis brother defending the other.
But like those fights and the Taylor/Brown mix-ups, they’re quickly forgiven and forgotten. When the team reports to camp later this year, they’ll be a couple more “fights” that’ll draw plenty of headlines. We’ll see if any come close to the level Ike T and AB got.
Check out the latest episode of Heyward’s podcast below.