Argos' sideline dustup shouldn't be surprise

JIM KERNAGHAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

The way his teammates tell It, Tim Horton had fellow Toronto Maple Leaf Eddie Shack in such a choke-hold, He'd passed out and it took several of them to pry Horton's arms apart.

This was on a train during a trip in the old six-team National Hockey League days and Shack's incessant pestering during a card game set the incredibly strong defenceman off to the point he jumped up and pounced on his tormentor.

It happens all the time, which explains why Toronto Argonaut receiver Robert Baker was suspended from the Argos' next CFL game. He slugged Argo kicker Noel Prefontaine on the sidelines during a game in Calgary.

Teams are like families, sometimes even a bit like the Addams Family. Argo coach Pinball Clemons had it right when he noted "brothers scuffle at times."

A lot of the time, actually, usually behind closed doors. The notion that a common purpose, winning games, places athletes in a vacuum is incorrect.

Peace is often shattered by nasty words across a long season and often by physical confrontation.

Listen to Kobe Bryant on then-L.A. Lakers teammate Shaquille O'Neal: "He's childlike, unprofessional, selfish, fat and jealous."

Give Bryant marks for courage or question his sanity, considering O'Neal resembles a shaved grizzly bear and is about as strong.

Hockey leads the way in teammate dustups. There probably has never been a training camp in which at least one fight didn't erupt.

Guys looking to make the team on a modicum of talent often will go to camp prepared to make a reputation as a tough guy. It's changing a bit but there was a time when it was common for such a player to ask who the toughest guy is and immediately set out to instigate a fight with him.

Skirmishes are always erupting in football training camps, although it's considered bad form for a 300-pound lineman to go after a 190-pound receiver and anybody to go after the quarterback.

Speaking of football, it was that sort of aggressiveness that helped ex-Mustang Tim Tindale make the Buffalo Bills. Tindale had played a lot of hockey and his polished technique at getting a teammate's helmet off in a hurry led to a decisive victory in a training camp confrontation and impressed the coaching staff immensely.

It is a mistake to assume 25 hockey or baseball players, or 45 football players or a dozen basketball players are one big happy family.

Toronto Blue Jay Cliff Johnson squabbled with everyone. Recent Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Dave Stieb was disliked by everyone but the fans.

How teammates regard other teammates was exemplified when big Jim Korn of the Leafs got into a fight with a New York Islander. The Leaf bench quietly cheered for the Islander.

There've been fights between players and coaches, coaches and coaches and even reporters and reporters but the player-player battle is the most likely, particularly at the top level, where the pressure is greatest.

It explains why verbal jabs led to Ronald Williams raining blows on Edmonton Eskimos teammate Elfrid Payton on the sidelines during a nationally televised game three years ago. And why two Newcastle United teammates, Lee Bowyer and Kieran Dyer, were thrown out during a game against Aston Villa in April for fighting each other.

And these are just the battles we know about.

Kernel

Canadian discus star Jason Tunks returns to London from European competitions next week with his longest throw in three years under his belt. Tunks threw 66.59 metres to rank fifth in the world this year while his wife Lieja sent the shot 18.59 to rank 10th in the world. Tunks will be going for his 11th consecutive Canadian discus title July 16.


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