Division battles often get heated, and altercations are commonplace. Usually, though, members of two different teams are involved, and coaches remain on the sidelines.
That was not the case when Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Adam Hayward shoved his defensive front seven coach, Bryan Cox.
The brief dispute ended when linebacker Jacob Cutrera stepped in between his coach and his teammate.
The Buccaneers were down 10-0 at the time of the incident, and the frustration from a three-game losing streak finally boiled over.
Hayward has made valuable contributions to the Bucs on special teams in the past and is currently starting at outside linebacker after Quincy Black sustained a season-ending neck injury.
Cox has been coaching in the NFL since 2006 and is in his first season on the Tampa Bay staff. He had a long and successful playing career that included the All-Pro selections and Super Bowl victory with the New England Patriots in 2001.
The incident is unlikely to cause any significant rift between Hayward and Cox. Tom Brady’s yelling match with Bill O’Brien in 2011 and Ben Roethlisberger’s tiff with Todd Hailey at the beginning of this season were ignored and eventually forgotten. The Buccaneers will also move on.
The team was on the path toward a surprise playoff berth after winning four games in a row between Week 8 and Week 11, but three consecutive losses dampened the team’s chances to extend its season.
When Hayward shoved Cox, the Bucs were struggling against the Saints and hopes of reaching the postseason were continuing to fade. It is unsurprising that emotions were running high.