Rodgers: Leave training camp fights on the field
Over the course of his lifetime, Aaron Rodgers has seen football and fighting intertwine plenty.
The Green Bay Packers quarterback recalled "wild" times Butte College, where he attended in 2002. He also remembers former Packers linebacker Brady Poppinga sparking a fight in practice.
"That was crazy," Rodgers said. "You had coaches in each other's faces, and players going after each other."
Still, Rodgers said, he's never heard of anything like what happened to New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith on Tuesday. Smith will miss between six and 10 weeks after Jets linebacker IK Enemkpali reportedly "sucker-punched" him in the locker room, breaking his jaw in two places.
"It's unfortunate," Rodgers said, "because anytime you hear about a sucker-punch, that's like the worst thing you can think of (in a fight), and obviously not a big sign of toughness there."
Rodgers said he doesn't think the NFL should severely punish the Jets. Teams need to have the ability to police themselves, he said. Not surprisingly, Enemkpali, a sixth-round pick last season, was immediately cut after the punch.
Most Packers players hadn't heard of the punch by the time they spoke with the media after practice Tuesday. One by one, they expressed their sincere surprise. One reporter asked Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix if he'd ever thought about punching a teammate, much less his own quarterback.
"No way," Clinton-Dix said.
Fighting, at times, becomes part of the game. Football is an intense, emotional sport. It's also based in physicality.
Still, Rodgers said, he couldn't envision something like what happened Tuesday in New York ever reoccurring inside the Packers' locker room. He said his team's discipline comes from its head coach, Mike McCarthy, setting a professional standard inside the locker room.
"It's not a personal environment," Rodgers said. "So when you get back in the locker room, that's where you're a team again. Being a professional is about leaving stuff on the field and not bringing it in the locker room. Leadership helps with that but also I think it comes from the top. It's a mindset that you leave the stuff on the field. You don't bring it back in the locker room."
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