Everything that goes on during the NFL season, postseason, and offseason gets picked apart, the finest detail examined to see what it could mean on the field. However, there was a time when things didn’t work that way. Sometimes some awful things happened and yet managed to escape the public eye.
Today we will talk about something that happened to the Pittsburgh Steelers before the 2000 season. The Athletic’s Ed Bouchette recently tried to find out more information about he story of a crazy locker room brawl that occurred after minicamp practice on June 7, 2000 at Three Rivers Stadium.
According to what Bouchette was able to find, everything started when linebacker Earl Holmes and halfback Richard Huntley exchanged blows during practice. When the players gathered in the locker room is when things escalated to the point of bursting “into a full-on locker-room donnybrook” in which players were swinging chairs.
Punter Josh Miller, who played for the New England Patriots from 2004-2006, was a witness to the incident. He told reporters:
“I’ve never been so scared in my life, and I’m from Jersey. As it broke out, you saw chairs flying. It was incredible. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
However, this ultimately helped the team in the future:
“It actually brought the team closer. I know that sounds ridiculous and impossible. People said if you had such great leadership in the room, why would that happen? But it almost had to. It’s almost like in the Godfather: Every 10 years this has to happen. It cleans the streets. That’s exactly what it was like. You understood it, it happened and it actually brought us closer together.”
The Steelers were coming off a 6-10 season in 1999 and there was a lot of pressure on them to perform better the next season. They went on to improve to 9-7 the following year and 13-3 in 2001.