Fans had to wait a while, but the first obligatory training camp fight of 2009 broke out yesterday in San Antonio, and it was a good one.
Jay Ratliff squared off with Marc Colombo after an (impressive) interception by Bobby Carpenter. On the return, Ratliff ear-holed Colombo; Colombo got up haymakers-a-flying, and the two tussled for a while they were seperated by, among others, Terence Newman and Sam Hurd.
But it wasn't yet over.
Ratliff got back in Colombo's face again after the next play, taking an unconvinced swing at the "Boston Brawler." Colombo didn't retaliate though, and like that, the first donnybrook of camp was at its end.
As is customary in such fights, it's hard to pick a decisive winner. Colombo got in the last shot of the first round, and Ratliff got him back in the next. If you count the vicious ear-holing of Colombo, Ratliff wins the knockdown and the fight; but as it was the cause of the fight and not the fight itself, we have a clear cut draw on our hands.
Predictably, most of the action was confined to pad grabbing, jostling, and wild, wayward swings.
The training camp fight is an inevitable part of preparing for a season, and it's generally viewed as a good thing, a sign that players are fired up about the coming season. That sure seemed the case on Tuesday afternoon, with the battle of titans--Colombo is 6 foot 8 and 315 pounds; Ratliff is 6 foot 4 and 302-- carrying over two plays.
Both men have a reputation as brawlers on the field, which seemingly makes them fitting combatants; but Wade Phillips had his old buddy from Atlanta, Keith Brooking as his odds-on first-fight participant.
"I thought [Keith] Brooking, really," said Phillips in Wednesday's Dallas Morning News. "I've been around Keith, and he normally is the guy in the first fight. That's why I was glad he wasn't."
Phillips reiterated the often echoed sentiment that such fights are more a byproduct of competitiveness than any malice on either side."I think the more you get into [training camp], the edgier you get," Phillips said. "Things happen. The players are fine. Things like that happen in football."