Nothing quite breaks the monotony of NFL training camp and the preseason like a good fight. Or a bad fight.
The altercation between wide receiver Javon Wims and cornerback Prince Amukamara during practice Tuesday at Halas Hall was an odd encounter, as these things go: It was a one-sided affair, with Wims swinging away like a prizefighter, while the veteran Amukamara was not interested in responding, even as he was getting hit in the helmet.
“I learned the hard way — never hit steel or never hit somebody who has their helmet on,” Amukamara said, explaining why he didn’t respond.
And, as coach Matt Nagy noted, Wims and Amukamara are two of the nicest guys on the team.
Amukamara is the reigning media “Good Guy Award” winner. Wims is affable and respectful and one of the biggest proponents of the Bears’ “brotherhood” culture — it’s one of the reasons he loves being a Bear.
So it was no surprise that teammates broke it up, order was restored fairly quickly, Nagy called Wims and Amukamara together on the field to patch things up, Wims and Amukamara shook hands, practice resumed and the Bears were a brotherhood once again. Ah, August.
“I’m 100 percent putting it on y’all because you jinxed it,” Nagy told reporters. “The last time we were together, you guys said, ‘No fights.’ Then on top of that, we have two of the friendliest people on the team. So . . . they’re competitors. But I wasn’t really worried about it.”
Actually, even in a Bears camp in which the brotherhood culture is a source of particular pride, it’s almost an upset that it took this long for a main-event altercation. The Bears’ defense has been getting the best of the offense so consistently, it seemed like only a matter of time before frustrations boiled over.
But training camp was pretty quiet, until Kyle Long and Akiem Hicks got into a minor scuffle Sunday in practice. Then there’s this Wims-Amukamara battle, which Amukamara described as “a minor altercation.”
“[Just] because it’s personal doesn’t mean it’s serious,” Amukamara said. “Anger flared up, and we just got into a little heated altercation. Me and Juice [Wims] are good. We dapped each other up after. We’re mature enough to not let it linger or hold grudges or bring it into the locker room. I would say it just shows that we’re ready to play someone else again this week and hit somebody else.”
Wims, a second-year player from Georgia who’s having a good camp, was so over the confrontation by the end of practice that it was like it never happened — literally.
“It wasn’t an incident,’’ Wims said. ‘‘It was a tackling drill. We just tackled each other. That’s my brother. We’re a brotherhood. So it wasn’t even an incident. I’m oblivious to what you’re talking about.”
Fights have been a rite of training camp and the preseason probably since the advent of training camp and the preseason. It’s Nagy’s job to manage it. In only his second season as a head coach, Nagy already has established a pretty good touch in connecting with his players and guiding his team. So it’s no surprise he’s confident he has a handle on this situation.
“To me, there are different levels of it,” Nagy said. “And there are some levels that can get out of control. It can ruin you. There’s other ones where . . . it’s competitive. They’re chirping. The guys want to do well. The beauty of the sport, and sports in general, is that you care. These guys care. They’re trying to make plays and trying to make teams. Sometimes the juices get going. That’s my job, to make sure I come in there and settle the dust.”