When news broke courtesy of Nick Wright at 610Sports.com that Kansas City Chiefs teammates Jon Baldwin and Thomas Jones had a tussle that resulted in a serious injury, instantly everyone began categorizing Baldwin as a Diva.
And as word spread that Baldwin was at the epicenter of this situation and comments began to rum rampant on Twitter and NFL Network, Baldwin in my opinion was wrongly criticized. The report indicated that Baldwin wasn't a hard worker and that he was as advertised based on rumors that he was a malcontent at the University of Pittsburgh. But I'm not buying it.
In defense of Baldwin, you don't have that type of physical physique and talent to run up and down the field with so much power that you leave a wake of bodies in your path, if you don't work hard.
So what really happened? More on my theory in a minute.
To me, Baldwin isn't someone who wears the Diva title so wildly spread before the NFL draft. In talking to some people close to the University of Pittsburgh football program on Friday, I discovered a few different takes on Baldwin and some of those rumors.
I was told that Baldwin wasn't a locker room distraction as was portrayed in various pre-draft reports about his character. The person we spoke with, who wanted to stay anonymous, said that Baldwin was a gym rat who worked hard to maintain his body. And further, that he never gave less than 110% when he was on the field.
Yes we were told that he has a confidence that can come off as arrogant. But what NFL player, doesn't have that charm.
So what really happened? Why did Baldwin go off on Jones?
Per an NFL source, Baldwin since training camp began in St. Joseph had been ridden hard by Head Coach Todd Haley, who champions his coaching philosophy to his mentor, Bill Parcells. So the hazing a head coach can bring down on a player, is hardly a shocker.
After all, Haley did the same thing to All Pro Wide Receiver, Dwayne Bowe two years ago. And look at him now.
He kicked him into his doghouse and eventually it made an impact. Bowe turned around his 2010 season and was one of the most feared wide receivers in the game. And it's been well documented that Bowe, like Baldwin, has some serious ‘Show' in his nature.
So Haley felt that those tactics would do for Baldwin what they did for Bowe. Apparently that backfired.
From what we've been told, Baldwin had become increasingly agitated with the way in which he was being spoken to by the head coach. So whatever transpired on Wednesday, it turned ugly fast.
So was it a culmination of things or did this 'family matter' that Haley called it after the Chiefs 31-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens Friday night, begin as 810 Sports suggested later in the evening.
They claim that initially the combatants in this national story centered not on Haley, but running back Jamaal Charles and Baldwin. Either way Thomas Jones decided to get in the middle of the fire. This is nothing new for Jones who did the same thing in Chicago with fellow running back Cedric Benson years ago.
But the difference to that altercation to the one in the Chiefs locker room this week, didn't result in a teammate missing game action.
Now we in the media aren't naive to believe that this is a first slug-fest between players in an NFL locker room. Because in the NFL, the ‘boys will be boy' mantra is nothing new. But the fact it happened to a player like Baldwin, who many felt was the instigator and a clubhouse leader like Jones, is troubling to the team itself.
The fact that Jones, who is fighting for a roster spot, appears to be more interested in sticking up for Haley, rather than a teammate, should send a few red flags about the current state of this team. Or he was defending Charles. But let's be clear regardless of the motives by Jones, and I stated this on Nick Wright's 610 broadcast Friday afternoon, I'm not blaming Jones either. But he had a hand in the tussle and now Baldwin has a broken thumb.
Sure Baldwin has some maturing to do. What NFL rookie with a bag of new riches in their back account doesn't. But in this particular situation, there is a bond between players that should never be broken. Thou should never break another teammates body parts. In this case, the boxing match resulted in one of the Chiefs prize fighters going down to an injury that almost certainly will impact the Chiefs offense for the first half of the 2011 season.
Still even with this latest insight, many Chiefs fans won't believe that Baldwin wasn't at the epicenter of this incident. So I'll leave you with one last item defending the Chiefs first round draft pick.
From all accounts when the Kansas City Chiefs headed down to Joplin, Missouri a few months back to help Tornado relief victims, no one player on this team gave more of himself than Baldwin helping those in need.
That tells me there is much more to this story than anyone is being told.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Who within the Chiefs is to be blamed for this fight?
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