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This article was published 5/6/2013 (1211 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The moment was brief, but fiercely intense.
And if there was ever any doubt about Tim Burke's authority, it was completely snuffed out in that instant Wednesday afternoon when the Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach dropped a sharp 'F' bomb that was intense enough to snap heads to attention and rattle the new windows at Investors Group Field.
First a little background...
Bodies had just been pulled apart after the second skirmish on Day 4 of training camp and Burke -- undoubtedly steaming that his 'no fighting' edict had fallen on deaf ears -- gathered the troops on the goal-line for what would be their punishment: a jaunt down the entire length of the field with 'up-downs' every five yards.
But with a few players still geeked up from the melee bellowing 'Chaos! Chaos!' over and over again, Burke erupted.
"Shut the (bleep) up!" he shouted.
And in an instant there was complete and utter silence.
"A few tempers flared up," said Burke after practice and after his blood pressure had presumably settled. "I'm not a big fan of that. You can't do it in a game, so why do it in practice? If you allow it to happen in practice, there's a chance it will happen in a game. That's the main reason.
"Plus, one of the main things we've talked about is respecting everybody. Respect your teammates, respect your opponents, respect the media -- believe it or not... just kidding -- and respect everybody in the organization and in the community. And when you have fights like that, that's not a respect for your teammate.
"We're going to have a talk about that tonight and how to break these things up."
The first scrap Wednesday featured receivers Jameze Massey and Quintin McCree and the second began with defensive lineman Kenny Mainor swinging at offensive guard Steve Morley before Jonathan Hefney, Alex Suber and a few others jumped into the fracas.
"It's training camp," Morley explained. "Guys are tired. We're not getting as much sleep as you usually get. It was a good little dust-up.
"(The coaches) weren't very happy with it and they said if it happens again there's going to be major repercussions. You probably won't see it happen a whole lot again."
"That was a bit excessive what happened, but it happens," added Mainor. "You've got to leave it, end it today, leave it where it was and not bring it back out tomorrow or any other day."
When asked who started the fight, Mainor grinned then said:
"No comment. Who started it doesn't matter as long as we finished it and it's in the past."
The natural follow-up question: who finished it, then?
"No comment again," said Mainor. "It's over. Coach Burke finished it, actually. Yeah, that's who finished it, the head coach. He completely ended it all."
Burke said he would study the practice film to see if there were any cheap shots before deciding if any further disciplinary action would be taken.
But it's here where the veteran coach -- essentially still a rookie as the head knock, though -- is walking a bit of a fine line with his squad. Football is a violent game played by men all scrapping to make this their career. Every single drill every single day is all part of an evaluation.
So slap them in full armour, crank up the heat literally and figuratively, and it's only natural these guys can get a little testy. And when that heat is even further magnified, should it really come as a surprise some of the veteran defensive backs called out earlier this week for iffy intensity levels would be at the epicentre of Wednesday's earthquakes?
"He's saying we've got to fight for the job, so we're just going out trying to play as hard as we can and show everything that we've got," said Hefney. "The fighting is not included, but at the same time, we don't take s from nobody. We've always had that mentality.
"We're going to keep on going out and playing hard. I mean, (Burke) put the chip on our shoulders so he's got to deal with us, right? We're just going out and playing, trying to have fun and trying to make the most plays as possible."
And therein lies the rub for Burke & Co. He wants an intense training camp where no one -- not even the most long-serving veteran -- feels safe. Fighting may be verboten, but it's also an occasional byproduct when all those elements mix.
"Since I've been here (fighting) has happened," added Hefney. "It's even happened during the season before. It's something that coaches don't want to see, but I'm pretty sure at the same time he smiles about it a little bit... hopefully."
Ed.firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @WFPEdTait
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