Fights during practice don't usually mean much -- it's just guys blowing their tops for a minute during rehearsals that can be physical, whether the NFL likes it or not. However, the Thursday scuffle between two Philadelphia Eagles -- receiver Riley Cooper and cornerback Cary Williams -- might be indicative of larger issues. Quarterback Michael Vick was the one breaking up the fracas, which started after Williams batted a ball that Vick threw to Cooper. Williams and Cooper went at it for a few seconds, were separated, and Williams then started walking after Cooper, jawing all the way. At that point, Vick physically restrained Williams, and gave him a good talking-to.
After practice, Vick was congratulated by one reporter for being a peacemaker, according to Philly.com's Les Bowen. Vick's response? "I try to be the peacemaker, but these young dudes don't respect me."
"Our maturity level's gotta be on a whole different plane. Regardless of who the catalyst was for the whole fight, that doesn't matter. We've gotta be men. We're not guys who are out on the street, fighting one another. We're teammates ... It's game week. We don't have time for that. I don't. It's a distraction."
Cooper said that the fight was not related to the racist remarks he made at a concert earlier this year, which caused turmoil in the Eagles' locker room. Cooper left the team for a short time before returning.
“Just one-on-ones," he said. "Both being super competitive, going for the ball, and we were tangled.”
But according to Jeff McClane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, it was about more than that.
Cary Williams to Riley Cooper: "I'm not a n- you [mess] with." More from the scuffle between the #Eagles. promo T75D: http://t.co/2daEgeOerf
— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) September 5, 2013
Williams, signed to a three-year, $17 million contract in March, missed most of the preseason with injuries, and missed OTAs for more interesting reasons -- home construction, dental work and his daughter's dance recital. He was kicked off the field for fighting with New England Patriots receiver Aaron Dobson during joint practices in August, and said after the Patriots' beatdown of the Eagles' defense that none of this would have happened if Williams were still with the Ravens and the Ravens were playing the Patriots. The Eagles are getting ready to face the Washington Redskins Monday night. This is the last thing they need right now, but it would appear that at least two of their players feel a need for ancillary drama.