“I think of all the teams I’ve been on, I’ve never seen a team really adapt to the discipline over the last couple years so quickly,” he said. “It has been really embraced.”
Smoot did not dispute that characterization. Even so, Smoot said in a telephone interview, the Redskins must find a way to halt the emotional outbursts.
“You’ve got to ask yourself which time do you send a message,” Smoot said. “Do you bench a guy? Do you suspend a guy or something like that? What’s going to send the message that makes it stop? What’s going to open people’s eyes?”
NFL traditionalists would say that cutting a player would send a message to other players that such incidents won’t be tolerated. In today’s NFL, though, the collective bargaining agreement limits what disciplinary measures teams can take. Redskins players say releasing someone is not the answer, anyway.
“I think if the person is a continuous repeat offender, then obviously that’s something Coach will address in a manner that he feels appropriate,” Fletcher said. “If one guy has an incident, you can’t all of a sudden just say, ‘You’re out of here.’ But if the guy continues to do something, then obviously you can do something.”
Alexander, the Redskins’ special teams captain, said the stature of the offender matters.
“Who are you going to cut?” Alexander said. “You going to cut somebody who didn’t do it? Because you can’t cut one of them guys. You can’t release our offensive coordinator, one of our starting receivers and our starting corner. So it has to happen in-house. Guys just need to be smarter.”
Alexander backed Hall’s version of events last Sunday, pointing out that Hall “never touched the ref” and saying that “both parties needed to do a better job of” avoiding further conflict. But the Redskins need to learn to just walk away, he added.
“You’re never going to win a battle with a ref, no matter how wrong they may be in the situation,” Alexander said. “You’ve got to realize that. And also, I think, teammates around you need to recognize that you may be going down the wrong path and try to grab you aside and try to defuse the situation as best you can. . . . When somebody is hot and they’re upset, the last thing you’re thinking about is ‘Let me back down.’
“You’re men — testosterone, you’re competing, all that stuff comes into play. And you can say, ‘Be smarter.’ But I mean, it’s like a rage. You’re in a moment. So it’s kind of hard to take yourself out of that. I think guys need to do a better job of kind of stopping it or getting in the way as far as pulling guys away, trying to move them away from the situation as best they can.”