Everyone loves a good old-fashioned fight like the one between Nick McDonald and Marshall Newhouse on Tuesday at practice inside the Don Hutson Center.
“It’s about time,” was coach Mike McCarthy’s initial reaction, referring to an August camp that has been relatively free of fisticuffs.
But my favorite part about the fight? The fact that it gave us a chance to reminisce about the last time two Packers players from the same position group got into a significant scuffle.
That came in 2004 when cornerbacks Ahmad Carroll and Joey Thomas duked it out in a hallway following a meeting. Carroll was upset that some of his teammates, including Thomas, were making sport of his on-field mistakes in the film room, so he sucker-punched Thomas after the meeting.
The incident is a reminder of how things have changed for the Packers over the past seven years.
The fact that Carroll and Thomas, the team’s top two draft picks in 2004, were key players in the secondary says something about the state of the Packers’ defense at the time. Neither Carroll nor Thomas would be a lock to make this year’s Packers’ team.
It harkens back to a time when Mike Sherman, then the general manager and head coach, drafted for need rather than taking the best available player. Carroll and Thomas weren’t starting-caliber NFL players, even though the Packers, desperate at the time, made Carroll the starter for two seasons.
All teams miss on high draft picks, and this isn’t meant as an indictment of Sherman, who was a good head coach and good man. But he simply had too much on his plate when he served as both head coach and GM of the Packers, and that led to some bad decisions like the drafting of Carroll and Thomas on back-to-back picks.
The Packers can only hope that their latest pair of combatants – Newhouse and McDonald — turn out better than Carroll and Thomas.