The Dallas Cowboys claim cheap shots by the St. Louis Rams led to an all-out brawl during Tuesday’s practice.
Cowboys linebacker Andrew Gachkar started the initial fight after being cut blocked by Rams center Demetrius Rhaney.
“He was coming at me and we were about to meet each other, and he went down,” Gachkar said. “You just don’t do that in practice. … It’s a legal block in a game, but you don’t do that in practice.”
Gachkar got in Rhaney’s face after the play, and shoved him to the ground. Two days later, Gachkar has no regrets about his actions.
“He cut me. You don’t do that in an NFL practice,” Gachkar said. “Tensions were already high, but you just don’t do that in an NFL practice unless it’s told to everybody. Usually you’re tackling at that point too.”
Asked pointblank if it was a cheap shot, Gachkar said: “That’s what it was. He knows better than to cut me in an NFL practice, you know? He knew what he was doing.”
Gachkar said one Rams player attempted to “clean up” Jasper Brinkley with a peel back block, but: “He didn’t get him. Jasper hit him actually pretty hard.”
The Gachkar-Rhaney moment simply spurred everything else. Cowboys safety Jeff Heath took Rams running back Tre Mason to the ground; Rams wide receiver Chris Givens leapt into a pile and ripped off Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory’s helmet; and cornerback Tyler Patmon exchanged wild haymakers with Rams receivers in a separate skirmish.
Order was restored momentarily before another lengthy fight broke out after Rams tackle Isaiah Battle ran over Gregory on the ensuing play. This melee included Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant charging over from the other field and getting popped in the face, and a Rams player tossing J.J. Wilcox’s helmet to a fan.
“As you saw, there were a couple of skirmishes and the first one kind of calmed down and the second one, I won’t lie, I kind of started that one a little bit,” Gregory said. “No one got hurt. I did take one to the face. I don’t know who did it, but if they’re going to do that, they might as come with a little bit more because it really didn’t phase me. At the end of the day, everybody came together, got everybody out of that OK.”
The joint practice fights have become commonplace in the league nowadays, and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said it’s something that needs to be addressed.
“I think the league probably needs to step back at some point in the offseason and try to address that the best they can,” Garrett said. “Everyone is well-intended. Nobody in the league, no coach, no player wants their team to fight. Sometimes when you’re put in these situations, fights occur. And we have to handle the whole situation better.”