The Jacksonville Jaguars have suspended two high-profile players, and one of those suspensions comes for actions towards the media. Both cornerback Jalen Ramsey, the fifth-overall pick in 2016 and a first-team All-Pro selection last season, and defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., the third-overall pick in 2015, have been suspended for a week for “violating team rules and conduct unbecoming of a Jaguars football player.”
In Fowler’s case, that’s about a post-practice shoving match with fellow Jaguars’ DE Yannick Ngakoue Sunday, which twice required teammates to break them up. In Ramsey’s case, that’s about him yelling at media to stop filming the confrontation, and then continuing to go after media members on Twitter. Here’s a tweet with the video and story from Phillip Heilman of the Jacksonville-based Florida Times-Union, which seems to have particularly set Ramsey off:
After 11 consecutive padded practices, tempers flared during a #Jaguars team period Sunday and continued afterward when Dante Fowler and Yannick Ngakoue repeatedly had to be separated by teammates. https://t.co/8DtCN9kLBV pic.twitter.com/D9V6GhDC8h
— Phillip Heilman (@phillip_heilman) August 12, 2018
— Jalen Ramsey (@jalenramsey) August 12, 2018
Ramsey then later tweeted this about supporting his teammate:
I’m always gone take up for my teammates kus I know what type of men and players they are forreal! Love my dawgs! If you don’t like it, oh well. God bless 🙏🏾
— Jalen Ramsey (@jalenramsey) August 12, 2018
Fowler was previously involved in two training camp fights in 2016, and will miss the season opener under the NFL’s personal conduct policy after a July 2017 arrest and plea deal over charges of battery, criminal mischief, and petty theft after he got into a parking lot confrontation with a man who commented on his driving. As per reports from the time, Fowler punched the man, stepped on his glasses and threw his bag of groceries into a lake.
Fowler was also arrested on misdemeanor assault and resisting arrest charges in Miami Beach in March 2016, but was placed in a diversionary program that time. And the clash with Ngakoue was the second altercation Fowler got into during Sunday’s practice, as he appeared to shove tight end James O’Shaughnessy near the sideline, leading to teammates breaking up a confrontation there. Fowler’s production with the Jaguars hasn’t exactly been great considering his draft slot, and these off-field issues have added up, which might have been part of the team’s decision to decline to exercise their fifth-year contract option on him last week.
But it’s Ramsey’s actions here, and the team’s response to them, that are perhaps more notable. Unlike Fowler, he’s become a major star with Jacksonville, and he was one of the Jaguars’ best players last year, including during their surprising playoff run. He’s a guy who’s much more important to this organization, and it’s interesting to see them levy a suspension against him over comments towards reporters. The “if y’all want war, we got sum for y’all” is pretty strong, though. And Ramsey made his objections known towards media filming this at the time, too, as per Heilman:
Upon seeing reporters film the altercation, Ramsey shouted, “Hey, man, y’all stop recording that s—, man.”
Look, practice fights happen, especially during training camp, and Heilman’s story provides plenty of context there, leading with “After 11 straight padded practices in ridiculous heat, the Jaguars were bound to have a skirmish at some point during training camp.” The confrontations here are far from the biggest deal, especially as no punches were thrown. But it’s understandable why the Jaguars would suspend Fowler given the history here and given how disruptive he seemed to be Sunday. And the suspension of Ramsey is particularly interesting; that’s sending a message that the team won’t stand for abuse of local media, but it’s also potentially alienating a key player, and doing so over some problematic comments rather than an actual physical confrontation.
Ramsey certainly seems to be in the wrong here, and if he thought that yelling at media not to film something and then going after them on Twitter was going to end well, well, he should have thought that one through a bit more. He doesn’t get to control what media observe and what they share with the public. And promising a war with media isn’t the smartest tactic, whether you claim it’s to defend your teammates or not. But this is still a pretty severe response from the team; while Ramsey won’t miss a meaningful game, he will likely miss two joint practices, and he could miss a preseason game as well depending on how they count the “week” Ian Rapoport has described this as. And it’s interesting to see a team come down so hard on a player for criticizing media, as that’s far from always the case.