Sports are basically the last place in western society in which violence is accepted, and even in competition, contact and aggression are starting to lose favor. Moving back to society as a whole, bar fights now end with people in a cop car rather than the two parties splitting a couple of brews and kids who scrap on the playground are treated like criminals; rather than, wait...normal kids?
In terms of tolerating violence, obviously MMA is the king of sports right now, followed by boxing and hockey, but frightened, teary-eyed whiners are trying to get the violence off the ice too. American football, baseball and basketball are different stories altogether, and looking to soccer (football), when Zinedine Zidane headbutted Marco Materazzi several World Cups ago, it almost seemed as if Europe was going to swirl into a third world war.
What people are forgetting, however, is that athletes are not just diligent workers and gifted competitors, but they are also, in many cases, huge egomaniacs. Add an egomaniac to a strong body and it's sometimes a wonder that sports aren't more violent. In some cases, whether athletes can or can't get away with fighting opponents, they just end up fighting their own teammates.
It's among the stupidest phenomena in the sports world, but it happens. Some coaches hate it, while others think it's healthy for these men to rip each other to pieces on occasion. Ultimately when players turn their energy against teammates it may be counterproductive to team success, but it never fails to entertain. Here are the twenty most violent and brutal times teammates fought each other.
21 Honorable Mention: Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton Standoff
This 2009 event gets an honorable mention because nobody actually got hurt, but it easily could have been number one. A scuffle broke out in the dressing room over a gambling misunderstanding. Arenas stepped in to calm his teammates down, but Crittenton threatened him. Days later, Arenas brought several guns to the locker room with a note telling Crittenton to pick one. The two drew metal and threatened each other but the situation cooled down. The two were suspended for the remainder of the season.
20 Kieron Dyer VS Lee Bowyer
Our first entry goes back to a 2005 game in the EPL between Newcastle United and Aston Villa. It was very brief, but Dyer and Bowyer started to wail on each other during a 3-0 loss. They were both kicked out of the match and have been asked about it ever since. Recently, Kieron Dyer indicated that it was an on-field series of insults that led to their fight. They have indicated that they are friends and that the fight was an isolated incident, but nobody can doubt that there was some animosity.
19 Greg Hardy VS Davon Coleman
This is the first of a couple of NFL training camp fights. They happen every year and they are essentially shrugged off by most media outlets as a natural occurrence in a league full of arrogant egomaniacs. For those who aren't versed in NFL criminal news, Greg Hardy is a repeat offender in the allegedly "beating women" category.
Back in April, while training with the Dallas Cowboys, defensive linemen Davon Coleman fought Hardy after calling him a woman-beater during a confrontation during practice.
18 Jeff Kent VS Barry Bonds
One of the greatest hitters of all time and possibly the biggest "jackass" in the history of professional baseball once tried to rip each other apart in the dugout. Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent fought each other in June 2002 when they played for the Giants. Kent basically said it was just another minor scrap between the two, but Bonds refused to talk about it when asked. Kent was one of those players that teammates acknowledged were an abrasive presence in the locker room, so this shouldn't be too surprising.
17 Matthew Barnaby VS Marty Lapointe
Matthew Barnaby, who retired back in 2007, was one of those irritating players who could irritate teammates as well as opponents. Just about a year before he made the decision to retire, Barnaby was playing for the Chicago Blackhawks. In March 2006, he and teammate Marty Lapointe got into an argument during practice and fought on the ice. They both told reporters that it was no big deal, but watching the scuffle it looked like they were both out for blood.
16 Albert Haynesworth VS a Couple of Teammates
Back before Albert Haynesworth became (possibly) the worst free agent signing in the history of the NFL, the defensive tackle was a talented locker room nightmare for the Tennessee Titans. He always had an ego and it got the better of him in training camp more than once. Guard Zach Piller was one of the other players who scuffled with Haynesworth and after a few shots were exchanged, he tossed him on the field by the facemask. Haynesworth got up groggy and they continued as if it was no big deal.
15 Manny Ramirez: Multiple Incidents
He may have been one of the best hitters of his time, but Manny Ramirez was also an incredibly polarizing player to have in the dugout. In June 2008, he and Kevin Youkilis exchanged words and then shoved and took some shots at each other before Ramirez was pulled off by teammates.
Curt Schilling once commented on the fact that it was no surprise that Ramirez was not well liked. He was a brutal teammate to have in the locker room and never held back when it came to telling off coaches or teammates, no matter what the reason.
14 Renardo Sidney VS Elgin Bailey
This one is just funny and it has never become clear how or why these two came to scrap. Sidney and Bailey were both playing college basketball for Mississippi State when it happened. The silly part was that they were in the stands watching a game between Hawaii and Utah. A few great shots were landed by both and they had to be separated by teammates and were both suspended following the fight. Guess what? These two geniuses never made it to the NBA.
13 John Hartson Kicks Eyal Berkovic
This having been two members of a soccer team, it is fairly tame compared to other incidents on this list, but it's still noteworthy for the contact made. While the two were playing for West Ham United back in 1998, Berkovic was on the ground during a practice and took a swing at Hartson, presumably for a tackle he deemed to be dirty. After taking a step back, he wound up briefly and kicked him in the face. When you're wearing cleats, you should never kick another man in the face on purpose...
12 Steve Downie VS Akim Aliu
This fight basically came down to having two aggressive clowns on one team who became involved in a hazing incident. Downie and Aliu were playing for the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League at the time. After Aliu refused to participate in a humiliating initiation ritual (standing naked in a bus bathroom with another player), Steve Downie, one of the dirtiest players ever to make it to the NHL, crosschecked him in the face, knocking out three teeth. The two then brutalized each other on the ice.
The Spitfires' coach and manager were both given lengthy suspensions, as was Downie in the wake of this incident. It is one of the biggest hazing controversies in the history of minor sports.
11 Darryl Strawberry VS Keith Hernandez
It was team photo day back in 1989 for the New York Mets. There's nothing worse than photos for team morale, right? Well Darryl Strawberry seemed to think so. As happens anytime teammates get on the field together in any sport, there were some less-than-kind words exchanged between Strawberry and Hernandez. Strawberry then closed about as quickly as he could, taking a few swings at Hernandez. The scrap was quickly broken up as there were several teammates around, but still, Strawberry got a few decent ones in.
10 Steve Smith: Multiple Incidents
With eight seasons with 1,000+ yards, Steve Smith is one of the best wide receivers of the past couple of decades, but has had a great deal of baggage over his fourteen year career. He has a history of being a mouthpiece on the field and targets not only opponents, but also his own teammates. In short, he is an incredibly violent person. Guilian Gary was the first player to feel his wrath, but wide receiver Anthony Bright and cornerback Ken Lucas both received broken noses at the hands of Smith.
9 Bill Guerin VS Brett Draney
Hockey, much like football, is a violent game in which there are rules, but there are also aggressive alpha males who want to watch the world burn. Bill Guerin was one of those tough-as-nails players who racked up penalty minutes about as quickly as he tallied up everything else. He was talented, but was the first to drop the gloves and put someone's face into the ice.
It was preseason back in 2002 and 21 year old Brett Draney and Guerin were smack-talking each other. Talk turned to jabs and Guerin smoked Draney on the back of the neck with his stick. The two made up in the wake of the incident, but it was treated as a very violent incident by many fans. How many of them ever played competitive hockey was never made clear.
8 Ikemefuna Enemkpali Breaks Geno Smith's Jaw
This is the most recent event on our list and it is also one of the funniest. The New York Jets chronically underachieving quarterback will be sidelined for at least half the 2015 season after sustaining a broken jaw at the hands of former Jets linebacker Ikemefuna Enemkpali.
While the Jets cut Enemkpali, he was signed by the Buffalo Bills shortly thereafter. In the wake of the incident, teammates have implied that Smith was taunting his teammate over a debt between the two, prompting the punch.
7 Keith Primeau: Multiple Incidents
Over fifteen seasons in the NHL, Keith Primeau developed the reputation of being one of the toughest leaders in the league. He, much like Bill Guerin, could score goals and get assists but when push came to shove, he'd drop the gloves and break anyone in his way. Two of his most notorious fights were in practice; with Chris McAllister, and possibly the greatest enforcer in league history, Bob Probert. Most opponents wouldn't consider fighting Probert, but Primeau, his teammate, would not back down.
6 Michael Westbrook VS Stephen Davis
Michael Westbrook was a receiver for the Washington Redskins from 1995 until 2001 and then a single season for the Cincinnati Bengals. He was a decent but altogether forgettable receiver, but had a great season in 1999; earning 1,191 yards for nine touchdowns. It was in 1997 when Westbrook was caught on news cameras wailing on running back Stephen Davis. Westbrook was fined $50,000 for the incident. After retiring from football, he went on to have a brief career in mixed martial arts, a sport in which he had some natural skill.
5 Carlos Zambrano VS Michael Barrett (Twice in one game)
The massive Venezuelan, Carlos Zambrano, was one of the largest pitchers to ever play the game at 6'4 and 275 lbs. On top of that, he had a ruthless ego that went along with his size. In 2007, he and his catcher, Michael Barrett, had an altercation in the dugout after an errant pitch. They exchanged blows and foul words before being broken up by teammates. Later on in the clubhouse, they got into an even more intense scrap before teammates and coaches were able to step in.
4 Wimbledon's Crazy Gang: Vinnie Jones and John Fashanu
For those who don't religiously follow EPL soccer (football), The Crazy Gang was a name for Wimbledon FC in the 1980s and 90s. They were a violent bunch who routinely engaged in boisterous behavior, violence and ridiculous practical jokes.
The violence was constant however and one of the ringleaders was Vinnie Jones, who is now an actor. He played Big Chris, a brutal mob enforcer in Lock Stock and Two Smokin' Barrels. John Fashanu was another ringleader. The entire club had a severe bullying culture that involved some members being beaten in the locker room by Fashanu and Jones.
3 Latrell Sprewell Chokes P.J. Carlesimo
Early in his career when he was playing for the Golden State Warriors, Latrell Sprewell attacked and choked coach J.P. Carlesimo during a practice. Technically, this isn't an altercation between teammates, but a coach and player are still on the same team. Basically, Carlesimo told him to pass the ball like a man, but Sprewell wasn't in the mood for coaching that day and threatened the coach. When the coach advanced on him, he attacked him, and choked him for several seconds before teammates separated the two.
2 Bill Romanowski: Multiple Incidents
In a sport that is filled with violence and brutal hits, it takes a special kind of aggressive man to earn a place among the game's most unnecessarily violent. Linebacker Bill Romanowski was talented, playing 14 seasons, winning four Super Bowls and tallying up over 1,100 tackles.
However, he is remembered as a classless and brutally aggressive competitor who was as destructive to his teammates as he was to his opponents. One of his most notorious incidents involved Marcus Williams, a tight end whose career was ended after a punch by Romanowski during practice. Romanowski was subsequently accused (later confirmed) of using HGH and steroids during this time of his career and was also implicated in the infamous BALCO performance enhancing drug Scandal.
1 Setanta O'Hailpin KO's Cameron Cloke
A Fijian and an Irishman had a kid once, he was born in Australia and went on to play Australian rules football. That's not the start to a joke, it's the start to a decent story that includes an awesome single punch knockout. Setanta O'Hailpin was playing for Carlton Football Club back in 2009 when he got into a confrontation with teammate Cameron Cloke. During that confrontation, he Cloke'd him right in the face. It was a textbook knockout and he followed it up with a swift kick. Sure it was unsportsmanlike but as someone who thinks violence in sports is essential, it was an outstanding method of ending a disagreement.