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Training-camp fights are dumb, until a cheap shot finds you

Jay Cutler. (AP)

I think most of us can agree on the obvious, that fights during NFL preseason practices are stupid. Players are much more likely to get hurt punching a helmet than they are getting punched in the face.

This is not one of the great issues of our time, but because Bears coach John Fox hasn’t exactly frowned upon fighting, it has stirred up a lot of debate around town. Even Jay Cutler has weighed in on the topic, saying “we’re getting to the point where we’re just kind of being a dumb team.’’

It’s important to note that Cutler is a quarterback, a position that doesn’t normally find itself in the middle of camp fights. That’s because quarterbacks don’t get hit much in camp. And that’s the whole issue here, one that perhaps people who haven’t been at a training-camp practice might fail to grasp.

Playing football in the heat against the same teammates day after day and getting hit over and over again tends to bring people to the breaking point. Throw in the fact that players are competing for jobs, and you have a recipe for blowups.

Fighting is dumb for the aforementioned injury risk, but too often there’s no time for thinking about injuries or prudence. There’s just reaction. Somebody gets hit in an area that involves reproductive function, and it’s over.

It’s why having an intellectual discussion about fighting in camp is, well, dumb. There’s nothing much intellectual about football or its summer bummer, training camp. Of course fighting is a bad thing, but so is a grease fire. Sometimes the cooking oil drips over the skillet, and the next thing you know, there are sirens in the distance.

Fights don’t mean a team has passion. They don’t mean a team is undisciplined either. They just mean players have had enough of being hit in places they’d rather not get hit.