Cornerback Bashaud Breeland jammed Terrelle Pryor Sr. a little too aggressively during a simple walk-through practice at training camp Monday in Richmond.
Contact is rare in the quarter-speed drill, so tempers escalated quickly before coach Jay Gruden tossed Breeland out of practice, relegating him to the sideline. The corner argued he was just bringing intensity, but his coach disagreed. Breeland then defended himself to tight end Jordan Reed and offensive tackle Trent Williams for 10 minutes while the latter tried to calm the corner down.
Unfortunately, Breeland has spent the last two years playing not with intensity, but with rage. And rage ends careers prematurely.
Former Redskins safety LaRon Landry was known for delivering bone-jarring hits and working out late into the night, but he didn’t last in the league past age 30.
Defensive tackle Daryl Gardener, a first-round pick of the Dolphins who played for the Redskins in 2002, washed out of the league after he was arrested for fighting a fellow customer outside of a Colorado restaurant in 2003, when he was with the Broncos.
Football may be a modern gladiator sport, but it requires a measured temper. Players who can control their emotions last longest.
Hall of Fame cornerback Darrell Green never relied on rage in his 20 seasons. I once saw Green trying to counsel Breeland in the locker room, but it was clear from his body language that Breeland didn’t want to hear the advice.
After making NFL.com’s All-Rookie team in 2014, Breeland regressed in 2015. He was a little better last year, but criticism has made him bitter, luring him into responding to Twitter trolls. Talk about a waste of energy.
Now Breeland is seeking out conflict in a training camp walk-through. Multiple teammates eventually tried to calm him down, including DeAngelo Hall, who should understand. Hall used to be a hothead, too. If there was a scuffle, he was usually involved, including once when he ventured to the opposing team’s bench and accused a coach of pushing him.
Maybe the years have mellowed Hall, 33. Maybe his recent injuries have given him perspective, or being a father to six kids has given him patience.
Either way, Hall’s current demeanor — confident and chill — is what Breeland should adopt. Hall’s career might end after 14 years when final roster cuts are due Sept. 2. Whenever it is, Hall will exit as a positive example.
Breeland is set to become a free agent after the season. Whether the Redskins re-sign him will depend on how he handles himself during trying times.
Passionate players go on to long careers. Enraged ones become shooting stars who fade away.
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