Brett Favre, Terrell Owens and 8 Unforgettable NFL Training-Camp Dramas
Training camp is supposed to be smooth. Build relationships with teammates, master the playbook, get ready for the season.
If only it was always that simple.
While any NFL training camp has oddities, the last couple of decades have included quite a few downright bizarre storylines. Two of the most memorable ones are Brett Favre's retirement/unretirement saga and Terrell Owens working out in his driveway.
In addition to the Favre and Owens chronicles, we're looking back at some fights, holdouts and suspensions that captured the NFL world's attention. The list is organized chronologically.
Michael Westbrook Punches Out Stephen Davis
Before the 1997 season, one of the worst training-camp incidents happened in Washington.
Wide receiver Michael Westbrook took offense to a comment from running back Stephen Davis and punched his teammate in the face several times. While we're not linking to a video of the scuffle, it's a brutal moment that left Davis bloodied.
The team levied a $50,000 fine on Westbrook, who apologized to Davis a couple of days later.
Westbrook said in 2008 that he and Davis—teammates through the 2001 season—eventually became friends.
Bill Romanowski Injures Marcus Williams
Bill Romanowski had a reputation for being a fearless linebacker, but he took it too far during training camp in 2003.
ESPN laid out the situation: Marcus Williams blocked Romanowski, who grabbed the neck of the tight end's jersey, forcibly removed Williams' helmet and punched him in the face. Left eye socket "shattered" and a tooth chipped, Williams fell to the ground unconscious as Romanowski yelled at him for holding.
The incident forced Williams to retire, and he filed a civil lawsuit. Two years later, a jury awarded Williams $340,000.
Terrell Owens Works Out in Driveway
That's the best way to describe Terrell Owens' 2005 driveway workout, which stemmed from an argument at the team facility.
Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid sent the receiver home, and reporters flocked to Owens' residence for a once-in-a-lifetime interview. Although he mostly dodged the questions with "no comment" responses, Owens provided at least one gem.
"Hey, if I am going to get back on the field," Owens said jokingly, "I gotta make sure I'm in good shape. But you guys are really—you're interrupting my workout right now."
Owens racked up 763 receiving yards in seven games that season. However, Philly suspended him for conduct detrimental to the team following some comments about quarterback Donovan McNabb, and Owens never played for the Eagles again.
JaMarcus Russell's Holdout
When the Oakland Raiders used the No. 1 overall pick on JaMarcus Russell in the 2007 NFL draft, they hoped he'd become the cornerstone of the franchise.
But by August, well, they just wanted him to show up again.
Shortly after the draft, Russell participated in minicamp. However, he hadn't signed a contract—and that resulted in a very extended absence. Russell held out during training camp and didn't sign until Oakland provided a six-year, $61 million deal in the second week of the regular season.
Hindsight shows the holdout was merely the precursor to a disappointing NFL career. Russell managed 25 starts from 2007-09, throwing just 18 touchdowns to 23 interceptions.
Brett Favre Decides He's Not Done
Following the 2007 season, Green Bay Packers legend Brett Favre retired. While it was a sad moment for fans, the Packers had 2005 first-round draft pick Aaron Rodgers waiting to replace Favre. Green Bay, as was only logical, embraced the Rodgers era.
In the middle of summer, however, Favre realized he wasn't finished. But the Packers weren't going to bench Rodgers.
During an interview, Favre acknowledged he wouldn't accept being the backup quarterback. Yet after several weeks of rumors, he returned to Green Bay in early August—and then the Packers traded Favre to the New York Jets within the week.
Favre played the back-and-forth game with the Minnesota Vikings during both the 2009 and 2010 offseasons, too. He was the undisputed king of training-camp drama for three years.
Albert Haynesworth and Mike Shanahan's Conditioning Test
Drafted in 2002, Albert Haynesworth played seven seasons on the Tennessee Titans. He developed into an immensely respected defensive tackle, earning All-Pro recognition in both 2007 and 2008.
As a result, Washington paid the big bucks for Haynesworth. He signed a seven-year, $100 million contract in free agency.
For whatever reason, though, he arrived at minicamp in subpar physical form. Haynesworth failed Mike Shanahan's conditioning test three times. Opinions on the test varied, but it nonetheless drew attention because of Haynesworth's cachet.
After two disappointing years in which he managed 6.5 total sacks, Washington traded him to the New England Patriots.
Broncos Suspend Brandon Marshall
By training camp in 2009, Brandon Marshall and the Denver Broncos had a poor relationship. He had requested a trade in the summer but remained on the team.
And he wasn't happy about it.
One example: "Marshall went out during pre-practice warm-ups and walked while the rest of the team ran. He punted a ball away instead of handing it to a ball boy and swatted a pass thrown to him," the Associated Press wrote at the time.
Denver coach Josh McDaniels said a series of incidents led to Marshall's suspension for the last two games of the preseason.
If there's a bright side, an unhappy Marshall still notched his third straight 100-catch, 1,100-yard season in 2009. But the Broncos traded him to the Miami Dolphins the next offseason.
Cam Newton, Josh Norman Get Heated
In 2015, a seemingly mundane play sparked a little chaos.
Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman picked off Cam Newton, running the interception toward the end zone while stiff-arming the quarterback along the way. Newton then shoved Norman, who pushed back until teammates separated them.
Star linebacker Thomas Davis called the fight "stupid," according to the Associated Press. Panthers coach Ron Rivera noted that incidents tend to happen later in training camp but added, "You really don't expect it to be your quarterback."
Newton and Norman quickly made the disagreement old news.
Both players earned first-team All-Pro honors that season (Newton was league MVP too), helping the Panthers win the NFC and reach the Super Bowl.