Oftentimes we think of athletes as finely-tuned, perfect representations of humanity. However, the truth is that they are just as flawed as we are. They also have the same emotions and sometimes they lose control. Usually, this involves an encounter with an opponent, but sometimes they even get physical with a teammate.
The occasions are rare but highly dramatic. Over the next few days, they usually become major talking points. Many players have major rivalries within their own teams and don’t like each other. It’s far more common than most people realize but they try to remain professional and work through it.
However, this doesn’t always happen. Today, let’s take a look at 30 athletes who had physical altercations with teammates. Check out the list below via Sporting News.
30. Michael Jordan and Steve Kerr
Jordan is arguably the greatest NBA player of all-time and possessed a winning mentality like few other athletes from any sport. The Chicago Bulls superstar led his team to six rings and was a 14-time All-Star. But Jordan was also no stranger to a physical altercation when things didn’t go his way. His teammate Kerr discovered this to his cost during a practice session that exploded.
Jordan had an intense dedication to the sport and expected high standards from his teammates too. However, Kerr infuriated him during the practice when the two men were defending against each other. Jordan’s frustration erupted and he punched Kerr in the face. To be fair, the Bulls were an incredibly competitive franchise and the atmosphere was tense a lot of the time.
Downie was a pest wherever he went. Hockey is a very physical sport and infamous for its fights, but the NHL veteran brought it to a new level. He served two separate 20-game suspensions for misconduct and even slicked off Pat Dapuzzo’s nose with his skate, albeit by accident. However, one of his most notorious encounters came at junior level in the OHL with teammate Aliu.
The pair played for the Windsor Spitfires when Downie attempted to force Aliu to participate in a team hazing event. Aliu refused because he wasn’t a moron. But this infuriated Downie who responded by cross-checking him in a team practice. He knocked out three of his teammate’s teeth before Aliu fought back. The pair never played together because Downie joined the Philadelphia Flyers.
For about half a decade, Ribery and Robben lit up the Bundesliga for Bayern Munich. The pair were two of the most devastating wingers on the planet, winning trophy after trophy. But even though they were Bayern’s best players, they still maintained a healthy rivalry. However, sometimes their competitive nature took them over the edge like it did in 2012.
Bayern played Real Madrid in the 2012 Champion’s League semifinals. During the game, they had a dispute over who should take a free-kick. This spewed over into a more tense, physical encounter because Ribery allegedly punched his teammate when they returned to the locker room at halftime. Sometimes, even the best athletes on the planet fail to control their emotions.
O’Neal once described Skiles as a ‘little gnat.’ This aptly describes his former Magic teammate and also their physical encounter in 1994. ‘Shaq’ was in his sophomore year in the NBA but already had the winning mentality required to get to the top of the game. After a loss to the Lakers, O’Neal and Larry Krystowiak had an altercation during a team practice session.
Things got physical, and soon it was an all-out brawl. That’s when the veteran Skiles tried to pull O’Neal away despite being half his size. Skiles hung onto Shaq’s neck who swung him around like a furious bull and almost destroyed the point guard. It was ironic that Skiles didn’t even mean to fight him, he was just being a good teammate. But that’s what happens when supreme physical specimens erupt.
Technically Bieksa and Fedorov were not teammates at the time of their physical encounter. But bizarrely, a fight between the two men convinced Vancouver Canucks GM Brian Burke to sign the former. Bieksa came to Winnipeg for a tryout with the Cancuck’s affiliate, the Manitoba Moose in 2004. That’s when he ran into his future teammate and had one of the most unique meetings on this list.
Bieksa went to a local bar with some of his fellow hockey players and Fedorov was drinking at a table. The former accidentally knocked over Fedorov’s drink and offered to buy him a new one. But the furious Russian challenged him to a fight outside in the parking lot. Bieksa accepted and knocked him out with one punch. Only in hockey would this be considered a team-bonding exercise.
West was a volatile NBA player who signed with a whole host of franchises throughout the noughties without ever being magnificent. His most famous contribution to league folklore was his relationship with LeBron James’s mother. Clearly, West wasn’t a stranger to physical encounters, but he had a very different kind of interaction with his former Celtics’ teammate Wafer.
The pair participated in a three-on-three practise game when West repeatedly fouled Wafer. Then, Wafer went into the lockerroom before West followed him and threw the first punch. A wrestling match broke out before teammates pulled them apart. It was very silly and proved the old mantra that 90% of street fights end up on the ground. Yet nobody won this one.
One of the most brutal beatdowns on this list, Barton established his reputation as one of the most psychotic soccer players on the planet after this incident. A confrontation broke out on the Manchester City training ground between Barton and Dabo but the former player didn’t hold back. His actions landed him with a four-month suspended prison sentence because he was so savage.
Dabo lay on the ground unconscious and bloody after Barton battered him into oblivion. The young player suffered cuts, bruises, as well as a detached retina. Barton also once shot a youth team player with an air rifle and stubbed his cigarette on another man in a nightclub. He simply couldn’t avoid trouble throughout his playing career. But this was definitely the worst.
Bonds has one of the greatest resumes in MLB history but everybody knows he had more juice inside him than a Minute Maid factory. That’s why he may never make the Hall of Fame. Roid rage could be a reason why he got into it with his fellow San Francisco Giants’ star Kent. Kent put himself first by getting an operation before the new season, while Bonds had a standoffish reputation.
These factors contributed to the two men hating each other. The two of them scuffled in front of the cameras in 2002. Even though they didn’t like each other, they had a very productive relationship when it came to playing ball. But this incident definitely stunned the world because it was such a lack of professionalism. Sometimes pro athletes can’t override their base instincts.
Domie was the type of hockey player who could start a fight in an empty room. He once clashed with a fan in the penalty box in a sensational incident during his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Meanwhile, he fought so many opposing players that he should probably have a boxing record on his Wikipedia page. But one of his most startling physical encounters was with his former teammate Wilkinson.
The pair played together for the Maple Leafs in 1995 when tensions rose to the surface. A fight broke out between the two men during a practice session and neither man held back. Later, Domie said that they were just playing, but Wilkinson confirmed that he gave the brawl everything he had. Domie definitely had an interesting effect upon everyone that he came into contact with.
Most people regard yoga as a peaceful activity. However, Mitrovic and Kamara took the phrase ‘hot yoga’ to the next level. Fulham was one of the worst teams in the Premier League in 2019 and clearly, their players felt the heat. Coach Claudio Ranieri decided that a team yoga session was the perfect idea to improve morale and mindfulness. However, it didn’t go according to plan.
The pair had bad blood after Kamara stole the ball from Mitrovic and took a penalty in their previous game. This annoyed the Serb, but even worse, Kamara missed the kick. Then, in the yoga session, Mitrovic told Kamara to shut up when the French athlete started talking. Immediately, it kicked off and the two men were at each other’s throats in one of the wildest physical confrontations on this list.
Perhaps the single most childish entry on this list, this fight was all over a pair of headphones. Moore played for the New York Giants in 2015 when Odell Beckham Jr. gifted several members of the roster new Beats headphones. However, the defensive end felt disrespected and reacted violently. Of course, this was an incredibly stupid thing to do.
Moore and Jenkins began to fight after the argument got out of hand. But the former was the main perpetrator and the Giants punished him for his antics. They released him because he brought down team morale. Currently, with the Seattle Seahawks, he has bounced around the NFL since then.
Ibrahimovic is one of the biggest superstars in soccer. He played for many big clubs like Manchester United, AC Milan, Barcelona, and Paris St-Germain. The Swedish striker also has a very strong personality. You don’t want to mess with him because he has a temper as well as a black belt in Taekwondo. His former Milan teammate Oguchi Onyewu discovered this the hard way.
A training ground dispute quickly turned physical. The pair attacked each other and fought on the field. Ibrahimovic made a bad tackle and Onyewu confronted him. It took 10 coaches and players to separate them. The Swedish star headbutted his rival but ended up with a broken rib as a result of the clash. It was one of the most brutal beatdowns on this list.
First of all, basketball players really need to learn how to pay back their gambling debts. The sheer number of feuds over owed money is ridiculous. One of the most dramatic was between the Memphis Grizzlies’ Mayo and Allen in 2011. They went to war over $7500.
The irony is that Mayo and Allen are actually friends. So can you imagine what they would do to their enemies? Allegedly, Mayo owed the money to Allen but decided to trash-talk him instead of paying him. Allen tried to play it cool but eventually lost his temper and punched his teammate in the face. Then he followed up with a number of other shots. Allen ended up with a fine and Mayo got a black eye for his troubles.
There are always fights in baseball but not usually between members of the same team. However, when Papelbon is around there is always that possibility. Bryce Harper discovered this the hard way when they were teammates with the Washington Nationals. In fact, their physical encounter resulted in Papelbon’s hands around the younger player’s neck.
Papelbon wasn’t happy with what he believed to be Harper’s feeble attempt to retrieve a loose ball. He expressed his feelings to his 22-year-old teammate in a cool and calm manner. Actually, he did the opposite. The older man roared at Harper and then tried to strangle him. It wasn’t the most diplomatic way of inspiring his teammate.
The oldest entry on this list, but an absolute goldie. Staubach was the Dallas Cowboys’ star quarterback in 1976. His backup was Clint Longley. However, Longley didn’t like his counterpart and it all erupted when he sucker-punched the starter following an argument. This was a dumb move because Staubach battered him into oblivion.
First, hitting somebody with a sucker punch is a weak move. Secondly, imagine being inferior to another player and being behind them in the pecking order. Then you go to fight them and they beat you up. In sum, Staubach demonstrated his total physical superiority. Finally, ‘America’s Team’ released Longley because he caused so much trouble for little reward.
Greene is one of the most intense players ever to step onto an NFL field. The former Steelers, Rams, and Panthers’ linebacker became a Hall of Famer after a brilliantly consistent career. However, when you’re as driven as Greene was, sometimes your emotions get the better of you. His physical confrontation wasn’t with another teammate but actually his coach.
The Panthers trailed the Redskins when coach Kevin Steele addressed his team. He gestured at Greene and clearly infuriated him because the linebacker charged over to him. Then he grabbed his coach’s jacket with both hands while screaming and shaking him. It was a terrifying moment for Steele, however, Greene did later apologize. Players and coaches separated them and it was over.
A name that won’t be familiar to most U.S. sports fans, Du Plessis is a South African rugby player who plies his trade in France. He plays for Montpellier who is also one of the best teams in their league. However, rugby players – like American football stars – have a lot of testosterone and this sometimes erupts. But when it does, it gets a little bit terrifying.
Montpellier was warming up for their game against arch-rivals Racing 92 when somebody said something and Du Plessis erupted. He got physical as he launched a punch at a teammate before other players quickly dragged him away. If their plan was to intimidate Racing 92 with their savagery, it worked because they won 41-3.
So far on this list, we’ve seen teammates fight teammates. Nothing too unusual about that right? Then there was the case of a player losing control and confronting their coach. But what about one coach going head-to-head with another? This is exceptionally rare because typically coaches are older and have wiser heads than the testosterone-driven young men on their teams.
But sometimes they too can lose control. In 1993, Ryan was the defensive coordinator for the Houston Oilers. A decision by his offensive counterpart Kevin Gilbride infuriated him. After the Oilers gave up the ball, Ryan roared at Gilbride. Then his colleague shouted back and walked towards him. Ryan’s reasonable and well-thought-out response was to punch him in the face.
You might think a professional athlete might have more to worry about than a measly $600. However, if you’re former New York Jets’ defensive end Enemkpali, then every dime counts when you lend cash to somebody. It’s just as much about the principle as it is about the actual sum of money. Starting quarterback Geno Smith discovered this the hard way.
Smith bailed on Enemkpali’s summer camp after agreeing to attend. The latter had paid for his flight ticket and demanded that Smith pay him back. Then Enemkpali confronted him in the locker room and broke the quarterback’s jaw. Needless to say, this didn’t end well for either man. Ryan Fitzpatrick became the starting quarterback and the Jets released their linebacker.
These two MLB legends really didn’t like each other but were able to hold back their grievances while the Mets were winning. However, their dynamic shifted as their team went into decline in 1989, three years after their last championship. This was an aging team and the atmosphere on the practice field definitely wasn’t healthy. But it all boiled over on photoshoot day before the new season started.
The seating arrangements placed Strawberry next to Hernandez but he wasn’t happy. In his words, he only wanted to sit next to his real friends. To sum up, professional athletes can be as petty as a child. These words ignited a brawl between the two players. It wasn’t the best start to the new season for the Mets as the two embarrassed themselves.
Owens has to be one of the worst teammates in the history of the NFL. An immensely talented wide receiver, he even became a six-time Pro Bowler. However, his success on the playing field didn’t translate to popularity in the locker room. However, he made this problem because he antagonized his quarterbacks relentlessly. Probably not the best idea.
The wide receiver’s horrible relationship with quarterback Donavon McNabb is well-known. But he also had a shocking run-in with another Eagles’ teammate, Hugh Douglas. Douglas accused Owens of faking injuries. This in turn ignited a locker room brawl. It’s safe to say things were never boring with Owens around.
New Orleans Saints superstar Thomas is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. But the Los Angeles native also possesses a fierce temper. Even his teammates aren’t safe from it when he explodes. In 2020, fans were curious about why had missed Game Five against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He had suffered from an ankle injury, but it looked like he had recovered.
However, the story broke that Thomas had a physical altercation with a teammate. He fought with C.J. Gardner-Johnson and also answered back to coaches, including head coach Sean Peyton. This left Peyton in a difficult position because in 2019 Thomas broke the record for receptions in a single season. But the team had to make an example of the disruptive star and suspended him.
We miss Rosberg because the German brought out the best in Hamilton. The two Mercedes Benz drivers had an intense rivalry despite competing for the same team. They just wanted to win more than anything else. They also weren’t afraid of getting physical, which makes this one of the craziest entries on this list.
At the Austrian Grand Prix in 2016, Rosberg took their feud to the next level. Earlier in the season, Hamilton’s aggression resulted in both drivers falling out of the race in Spain. But in Austria, Rosberg deliberately drove into his teammate. It was incredibly dangerous, but this was also the season where Rosberg won the Driver’s Championship. His team was obviously furious.
Fighting your teammate can’t be good for morale. Somebody should have told Smith this because he has an unfortunate history of attacking people he should be on good terms with. On no less than three occasions, Smith got into physical conflicts with his own teammates. But remember, they’re just the ones we know about. In sum, this was one brute of a man.
His most serious clash was with Anthony Bright as a member of the Panthers’ roster. A film session was ongoing when Smith got angry and punched Bright. He shattered his teammate’s nose which didn’t help him to make friends. Bright pressed charges and the police brought Smith in on misdemeanor assault. Somebody needed to give that man a Snickers.
One of the most ridiculous and infamous incidents in Premier League soccer came about in 2005. Bowyer was always a volatile presence, but nobody could have predicted this ludicrous moment. His team, Newcastle United, trailed 3-0 to Aston Villa. In short, it was a bad day at the office and the Newcastle players felt humiliated. Then Bowyer’s frustration erupted.
Bowyer confronted his teammate, Dyer, because the latter refused to pass to him. When he asked why the answer was because he was playing like “s**t.” The next thing that happened was the two men were throwing punches at each other. Players from both teams had to separate them and then the referee issued red cards to the pair. It didn’t change the result at all.
It’s possibly the understatement of the century to say that Sprewell did not have a good relationship with Golden State Warriors coach P.J. Carlesimo. He held a grudge against Carlesimo after the latter withdrew him early from a game. Things escalated in a practice session when the coach told Sprewell to work on his passing. But the player didn’t like that.
He threatened to kill Carlesimo because he was sick of the coach’s tough disciplinarian style. Carlesimo said, “I’m right here.” Unfortunately for him, Sprewell was a genuine lunatic and went straight for him. He grabbed the coach by the throat and took him to the ground. His teammates literally had to prevent him from choking the life out of Carlesimo. The NBA banned him for 68 games then the Warriors traded him to the Knicks.
Homophobic slurs are a no-no in the modern world, but in the 1990s, they were commonplace. Calling somebody ‘gay’ was a suggestion that they were effeminate and less of a man than you. Furthermore, NFL players can be very sensitive about this because they have massive egos. No pro-athlete wants to lose face in the locker room. This caused a massive fight during the Redskins’ 1997 training camp. Check out the picture below.
Westbrook thought that Davis called him gay after he believed that he heard the slur. The wide receiver confronted his teammate but then things turned physical. In the end, Westbrook ended up on top of Davis and battered him until teammates separated them. Finally, it emerged that Davis actually called Westbrook soft. At the very least, he was definitely feeling sensitive that day.
One of those players who just can’t stay out of trouble, Harvin had several physical encounters with his own teammates. A volatile character, he carried his temper from high school all the way to the NFL. His time with the Seattle Seahawks was probably the most controversial. He won a Super Bowl, but also had several fights with teammates like wide receiver Golden Tate.
The running back punched his teammate before the Super Bowl which is a very counterproductive thing to do. Meanwhile, he also fought Doug Baldwin the following year. Finally, he had a confrontation with Russell Wilson but teammates separated the two before it turned physical. An intense and aggressive character, Harvin was nonetheless a great player. But the red mist was quick to rise.
Everybody’s emotions get the better of them sometimes, but that is no excuse for what Romanowski did to Marcus Williams. The Raiders’ enforcers lost control and attacked his teammate during a scrimmage. Sometimes this kind of thing happens, but usually, teammates separate the angry men and it’s over. But Romanowski literally ended Williams’s career.
In short, he ripped the backup tight end’s helmet off. Then he punched him with crushing force and broke his eye socket. Williams was unable to play again because the physical damage was too severe. Of course, he sued Romanowski for his brutal action. Romanowski also had savage encounters with opposition players but to do this to your own teammate is next-level horrendous.
In 2009, Arenas and Crittenton were both members of the Washington Wizards’ roster. However, they weren’t the best of friends. Any fan of Michael Jordan will know that NBA stars gamble hard. While this can be a fun way of killing time, it’s also often the cause of friction between players. These two men brought it to the next level when they pulled guns on each other.
This went beyond a normal physical confrontation. After Crittenton failed to repay a debt, Arenas told him he’d burn him if he didn’t. The pair brought guns to their locker room and squared off. Although the situation cooled, it resulted in both men facing criminal charges. It also practically ended Crittenton’s career and he is currently serving time for killing a woman in Atlanta.