Saints-Chiefs brawl could form a team

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 10, 1999

At first glance, the brawl between the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs looks like a bunch of boys who have never grown up.

What was suppose to be a football practice between two teams resembled the best of Celebrity Deathmatch.

Although it is a little comical to see grown men still acting like schoolyard bullies, the fisticuffs could lead to something bigger and better.

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The strangest things brings a team together. Usually a little adversity is just the ticket for such a formation. There is nothing better than a &uot;bad guy&uot; the whole team can agree to hate. This bad guy seems to be the Kansas City Chiefs.

The weekend started like any other weekend. The Chiefs were preparing for their usual butt kicking of the Saints. The two teams have shared the practice field before. It usually ends with the Chiefs stomping all over the haloed boys in black and gold.

A funny thing happened en route to this year’s butt kicking. The Saints came in with an attitude. This new attitude was one of a team that was tired of having one’s tail kicked.

From the first head butt block of Kyle Turley, the Saints made a statement that they weren’t going to take the same old, same old from the Chiefs.

Give the Chiefs credit, they were not going to back down from the upstart Saints. How dare the Saints act that way!

The Chiefs were used to the Saints taking their punches whether they were legal or not and going back to LaCrosse.

True, the Saints did return to LaCrosse but the rest of the events had a different feel.

The day turned sour for the Chiefs when the Saints started acting aggressive in blocking drills. The Saints offense with the strong running of Ricky Williams stuck it to the Kansas City defense. What followed was a school of cheapshots by the Chiefs.

Saints players claim that Kansas City coaches were encouraging their players to &uot;take out&uot; Ricky Williams.

Receiver, Keith Poole, was the recipient of the most vicious blow of the day.

Poole said and television footage confirmed that Chiefs free safety Jerome Woods hit him late, and when Poole turned to confront Woods, Kansas City cornerback Chris Dishman grabbed Poole, pinned his arms back and stripped Poole’s helmet off. A moment later Chiefs cornerback Carlton Gray dove over Poole’s back and hit him in the eye.

The melee truly started at that point. Poole received a broken nose and a left eye that was purple and swollen shut. It took six stitches to close the cuts above and below it. Mike Ditka knows the importance of the Saints sticking with each other through thick and thin.

”Our guys stuck together,” Ditka said. ”I like that, and I can’t stand up and be too critical of that, and I’m not going to be critical of them. What we did, we did in defense. I didn’t think we precipitated any of it. That makes a difference. If we were the people that had been hitting from behind and starting all the crap, then I would have had to take our guys off the field. But we weren’t the guys doing that. We were the guys that just reciprocated. Maybe we shouldn’t have done that but we did. We fought back.”

In fighting back, we just might be seeing the makings of a team in New Orleans. It has been a long time coming.