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Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Patrick Andres

Browns Coach Kevin Stefanski Has a Very Unique Punishment Rule for Joint Practice Fights

It’s an issue that comes up every NFL preseason: the dreaded joint practice fight. Two teams get together to rehearse ahead of an exhibition game, tempers flare, and suddenly fists are flying (or, in extreme cases, helmets are swinging).

What does the coach do? Does he accept fighting as a side effect of summer football, like Jets coach Robert Saleh? Does he confer with the other team’s coach and call off practice, as the Colts and Eagles did Tuesday?

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski has a unique answer to these questions.

Stefanski, as reported by Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer Tuesday, has two sets of protocols for dealing with players who fight in joint practices. If a starter fights, he will be made to play in Cleveland’s next preseason game. If a backup fights, he will be forced to sit out the Browns’ next preseason game, thus depriving him of critical game reps toward making the 53-man roster.

Breer cited the example of Panthers cornerback Troy Hill. In August of 2021, Hill—then with Cleveland—got into a scuffle with Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard in a joint practice between the two teams. Stefanski then made Hill, a starter, play in the Browns’ next game.

Machiavellian? Perhaps. Different? Definitely.

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