The foundation of the Arizona Cardinals was put into the ground on Monday afternoon. The practice was very physical and three fights broke out along with a few semi-skirmishes. In the hyper-aggressive world of alpha males playing football at the highest levels our species can generate, this is a good thing. Provided they are handled the right way, fights bring a football team together.
Players are taught to respect their opponent. This falls on deaf ears much of the time but cannot be so readily ignored when players find themselves locked on to their opponent, throwing haymakers in a blatant attempt to flatten their face. And when you’re in training camp, your opponent is your teammate and no face is off limits, no face is safe.
Fights happen on the football field, especially when the best our species has to offer find themselves fighting for work, fighting for a future, fighting for family, fighting for a lifestyle.
The game taps into primal man; and this is why we love it. Rage is a wonderful master when between the white lines. This is what happens when you interface with the essence of the Bloodsport: from time-to-time, you lose your mind and want to eat somebody’s liver (whether he’s a census taker or not).
Although fighting shows toughness and toughness is good for a football team, what happens after the fight is even better. When handled correctly, two men come together shake hands, embrace, lock eyes and acknowledge their worthy opponent, acknowledge their adversary and call him brother. More than this, each man goes his way and respects the other – regardless of who initiated the fight. The initiator knows what set him off and makes no apologies for his actions and the retaliator knows he must stand up for himself or his teammate. In the end, they respect each other and their teammates respect them for handling the problem well, making peace, being men.
This is team building at its finest. This builds chemistry a head coach cannot manufacture. Players don’t have to like the guy they line-up with or call teammate but they should respect them. There aren’t many good teams that have a fractured locker room where players don’t respect their teammates. Chemistry won’t make you a winner but it is often times a foundation for better things to come.
This is the most physical camp I have seen in three-years. And that’s good. I believe Big Red is going to have to win games by pounding the ground, licking the dirt and flattening the face of their enemy. But before you can get to becoming a more physical team, before you can get to step two, fights need to happen, mentalities need to change.
Camp Cardinals 2010 is off to a good start. I even saw Ben Graham glaring at Paul Calvisi.