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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Most football fights are basically benign, though they have to be watched carefully

Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett was upset about the actions of the offensive line. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)
Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett was upset about the actions of the offensive line. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Here’s a question for you: How many fights have you seen at football practice? More than likely, if you include your high school days, it’s a lot. Personally, it seems about every second practice I’ve watched over the years was interrupted by some sort of extra-curricular tussle. Should they cause alarm bells? Read on.


• The ones on the practice field are usually as benign as that red mark on your arm. No, not that one. You should get that one looked at. I’m talking about the red ones your Irish mother passed along with her reddish hair. Anyhow, the main point of football fights is more to release pressure than to build bad blood. But as one old coach told me, there is a caveat or two. You can’t let guys fight in such a way someone could get injured (if someone swings a helmet or is dumb enough to try to punch a teammate in the face while said teammate is still wearing their helmet, then someone needs to step in) and you can’t let any bad feelings leave the field. A fight that carries over into the locker room can cause real problems. And that’s where football fights are tricky for outside observers. Those of us who were charged with covering teams rarely venture into a locker room when the players’ guards are down. Alarm bells go off – figuratively – when an outsider enters. So getting the feel of whether bad blood exists is a surreptitious endeavor. Mainly you have to rely on the thoughts and observations of players you trust. Most don’t want to break the sacred seal of the locker room – think the old saw about Las Vegas but stronger – so getting them to paint a clear picture isn’t easy. But, as they say, that’s why guys like me were paid the big bucks. If you are trustworthy, there is always someone (or someones) who will trust you. My guess is the guys covering the Seahawks have those connections. There have been some scuffles up front ever since training camp opened and the usual combatants are, on the defensive side, Michael Bennett, and, on the offensive side, rookie Germain Ifedi. There is something to be said for a first-year player, a guy the team is counting on to help fill a hole up front, standing up for himself. For pulling a Tom Petty and refusing to back down. For being feisty. I’m pretty sure no one in a Hawks polo shirt is worrying about that. But his foe, and how angry he’s been getting, is probably setting off some alarm bells. Bennett isn’t happy about a lot of things right now. His paycheck. The state of the NFL. The high cost of tomatoes, more than likely. He – and his brother – spoke candidly with ESPN recently and though most of it was dismissed as the Bennetts being the Bennetts, some of it cut deep. And an angry Michael Bennett could cause problems in the locker room. Should that worry you? Probably not. There may not be anything to his outburst other than the usual pressure release football players need from time to time. Better to do it the way he has than take it off the field. But if there is more, the Hawks, specifically John Schneider and Pete Carroll, aren’t afraid to make a change. As the Percy Harvin fiasco showed, they weigh the utility of each player each day. When the negatives outweigh the positives, no matter who the player is, they are willing to cut him loose. They are always willing to test the axiom about addition by subtraction. There is little fear Bennett’s behavior will come to that. More than likely his explosive nature will continue to be channeled into a rage against the machines that play quarterback in the NFL, not against his teammates. Just consider him the Hawks’ Mrs. Potts, a teapot that, when surrounded by beasts, has to let off steam every once in a while.


• WSU: The Cougars were in the receiving-votes category in the first coaches’ poll, one of eight Pac-12 teams mentioned in the poll. ... Oregon was one, but its No. 22 ranking is the lowest the Ducks have started the season in a while and it puts some heat on coach Mark Helfrich. ... Quarterbacks are always in the news and they are again at Utah, California and Arizona State. ... Arizona’s Trey Griffey got to see his dad inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame. Now it’s back to football.

• Idaho: The Vandals opened preseason practice with high expectations. Jacob Thorpe covered practice yesterday as well as those expectations. ... Wyoming won’t be coming to Moscow in 2018 as planned, now that UI is transitioning to the FCS level.

• Indians: The roster is changing a bit and the new faces helped the Indians to a 6-4 win at Salem-Keiser last night. They also dot Josh Horton’s prospect rankings. ... Hillsboro blasted its way past Everett and Vancouver finally got a win against Eugene.

• Preps: Bellevue High is appealing its penalties again.

• Mariners: Last night was big for the M’s. Boston is one of the teams they are chasing for a wild-card berth. So a win was worth two in the standings. So was a loss, which is what eventually happened. It took 11 innings, and a 3-2 result, but the Red Sox got out of Seattle with a split of the four-game series. ... The M’s are quietly re-injecting youth into their lineup. Case in point: catcher Mike Zunino.

• Seahawks: The brouhahas yesterday were treated like a dustup in a game. Bennett was basically ejected. ... Injuries are starting to mount for Seattle (as is the case with most football teams) and they are especially tough at the running back position. ... Speaking of injuries, Carroll believes Jimmy Graham and Thomas Rawls will be back soon. ... Earl Thomas wasn’t as healthy as he would have like last season. ... The Hawks are still exploring options for their offensive line.

• Sounders: Seattle needs to compete more and it starts at practice.


• I’m still alive. Yahoo. Though, after a month of vacation-like travel (and eating), my cholesterol is way too high. And my weight is as well. My goal the next few months: bring both down. My goal this weekend: watch my youngest son get married. It’s happening tomorrow and the upcoming nuptials got me to thinking about fathers, sons and sports. We’ll have some thoughts on the matter in this space Saturday. Until then ...

Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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