WASHINGTON — It takes a lot to suck the media oxygen out of Redskins Park during the fall. The Nationals accomplished that feat on Monday with the Bryce Harper-Jonathan Papelbon fight.
Only four cameras and a far smaller-than-usual group of reporters made the trip out to Ashburn as the Redskins began their week of practice for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
But the Nats’ dust-up was a topic of conversation. Papelbon, the Nats’ closer, yelled at Harper for not running out a fly ball in the eighth inning of a loss on Sunday at Nationals Park. Harper snapped at him and Papelbon lunged off the top step of the dugout, slamming Harper into the back wall and choking him before teammates and coaches broke up the fight.
It’s not unheard of for incidents like that to happen in an NFL locker room. But very rarely do they happen in public. Papelbon was suspended four games by the Nats and will not remain with the team the rest of the season.
“That was pretty weird to see. You hate to see the MVP getting choked out,” Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said. “But those kind of things happen, I’m sure. Especially in baseball, especially when you’re around the guys for six months… But those things happen and hopefully there’s no lingering affects from that for them.”
Of course, as Kerrigan noted, Papelbon has only been with the Nats since late July. For once, the Redskins were not the focus of a media circus. They’ve had their share even just since training camp started. But not this week. The Nats, for once, knocked the Redskins off the front page – and not for any positive reasons.
“Scuffles happen. Emotions happen in football games, baseball games, sporting events,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “You’ve just got to try to fix it, make sure it never happens again. You never want to see your own team doing that, but sometimes it happens when you have highly competitive-type players.”
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