From Roger Staubach to Jim Harbaugh: a History of QB Fights


Geno Smith, as you may have heard, is out for 6-10 weeks after reportedly getting sucker-punched by now ex-teammate I.K. Enemkpali. It might be the most extreme example of a quarterback getting punched by a teammate (though as we will see, not the only one). Quarterbacks, though, have some history in being involved in not pulling any punches. So let’s set aside the famous Steve Smith vs. Ken Lucas and Michael Westbrook vs. Stephen Davis fights and focus on famous off-the-field fights involving quarterbacks.

Here are some notable ones that are buried, in some cases, deep in the archives.

Roger Staubach vs Clint Longley (1976). 

You want to know why Roger Staubach is not mentioned along with guys like Brady and Montana? Because he was not a good enough leader to avoid getting punched. Well, that, or Clint Longley was a little off.

In training camp in 1976, former Thanksgiving Day hero Clint Longley was in a foul mood and wanted to be traded, already facing the prospect of being replaced by Danny White as the backup. He accelerated that trade request when he and Roger Staubach got into some scrapes, and Staubach required stitches over his left eye. Staubach called it a “gutless affair” and denied Longley’s account that Staubach had pushed some chairs into him.

This incident is part of Cowboys’ draft lore, as Longley was traded to San Diego in an exchange of first round picks. That allowed Dallas to have the 14th pick, rather than the 24th, in the 1977 draft. The team came up with a package to trade up to the 2nd overall pick, where Tony Dorsett was selected.

Jim Harbaugh vs. Jim Kelly (1997)

By 1997, Jim Kelly was retired and provided commentary. Current Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was playing with the Colts. In October, Harbaugh caught wind of some comments Kelly made questioning his toughness, and sought out Kelly. That’s when punches were thrown and Harbaugh ended up missing a month with a broken hand.

When asked if he regretted it, Harbaugh said, “I regret throwing the punch, but I felt I had to do something since my toughness was being questioned. I regret that I have a crack in one of my bones in my hand.”

Kerry Collins vs. Norberto Davidds-Garrido (1997)

Back in the 1997 training camp, Kerry Collins was mixed up with both a controversy over uttering the n-word and got punched by teammate Norberto Davidds-Garrido. The New York Times later came out with the claim that the punch was a result of horseplay and “play wrestling.” Collins, who also dealt with alcohol issues early in his career, would be released a year later and end up in New Orleans.

Dan Pastorini vs. Houston reporter Dale Robertson (1980)

Right before the 1979 season playoffs in early January of 1980, Dan Pastorini, who had a history of acrimony with Houston Post reporter Dale Robertson, took issue with the reporter publishing quotes given to someone else. He tackled Robertson through a door and had to be pulled off by head coach Bum Phillips.

Brett Favre vs. Bar Patrons in Hattiesburg (1992)

Before Brett Favre became Brett Favre in Green Bay, he had a reputation as a party-goer, which got him traded out of Atlanta. Even before he took a snap in Green Bay, he added to that reputation with a bar fight in his hometown of Hattiesburg, Mississippi right before the start of his first Packers camp.

He was arrested for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct. According to Favre, the fight began when he was arguing with his girlfriend, and a stranger interrupted and they got into a wrestling match. Another man then punched Favre in the face three times. That injury meant that Favre couldn’t start training camp on time, at least when it came to wearing a helmet.

Cliff Stoudt vs. a punching bag (1981)

Cliff Stoudt probably has the craziest injury involving a punch. While at a bar, the Pittsburgh backup tried to punch a “test-your-strength” punching bag, and instead ended breaking his arm, putting him out for the rest of the year.

Danny White vs. a high school football player (1984)

Cowboys quarterback Danny White was involved in a road rage incident before that was even a thing. In February 1984, he reportedly hit a high school football player after confronting him while the two were driving along a highway. White was ultimately acquitted in what was viewed as an act of self-defense. The youth was reportedly speeding up and slowing down while White was trying to pass him, and then tried to pass White on a bridge, which led to the confrontation.

Joe Kapp vs. Angelo Mosca (2011)

This one gets emeritus status. Kapp was the Minnesota Vikings quarterback in Super Bowl IV, and also played in the CFL. When he and Mosca took the stage a few years ago, we got a full-on old man brawl. Is it wrong that I hope this is Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in 30 years?

UPDATE: As a reader pointed out, this one should definitely have been included originally …

Jim Everett vs. Jim Rome (1994)