EAGAN, Minn. – Training camp fights in the NFL are really nothing new, but Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer had seen enough of the back and forth between cornerback Xavier Rhodes and receiver Stefon Diggs to hold the two out of Wednesday afternoon’s training camp practice.
The confrontation had seemingly lasted beyond a single practice, spilling into walkthrough the next day causing Zimmer to take action.
A day later, Diggs and Rhodes were back at walkthrough and putting whatever issue they had in the past.
“The first thing I want to do is apologize to the fans that were here yesterday, a lot of kids,” Diggs said Thursday. “I’m going to make it a priority and my business that if anybody didn’t get an autograph, I’m going to make sure they get one, everybody who was there.
“And secondly, nothing happened. Brothers argue, brothers fight. We go at it. But it’s all love. It’s a family thing here. We definitely keep everything in house, so if you’re looking for an answer …”
On Tuesday afternoon, Diggs had beat Rhodes deep for a long touchdown reception from quarterback Kirk Cousins. Diggs threw the ball into the stands and the offense celebrated the big play. Rhodes’ ire grew immediately and he stayed on the field for several plays as the second- and third-team defenses took their reps, appearing to try to get Diggs come back out during the drill.
Diggs and Rhodes both attributed the confrontation to two competitors and likened it to a sibling squabble.
“It was just the competitive nature in us,” Rhodes said. “I didn't want to lose. He didn't want to lose. Just stuff like that. It's stuff like that if you have a sibling you grow up with and he does something you don't like and then something tends to go off. Then again you come back the next day and you're hugging and playing around. That's exactly how it was. It's a brotherly love type thing. We are going to have fun today.”
In moving past the incident, Diggs said there was no need to “bury the hatchet.”
“I feel like that competitive nature, that everyday passion to be great -- it’s people that want to be great and are not going to settle for anything else,” Diggs said. “We’ve just got to channel that the right way. But like I said, sometimes brothers fight. We still love each other, and we still want to do what’s best for the team.”
Zimmer was asked if he likened the confrontation to siblings, as Diggs and Rhodes did earlier.
“Juvenile is probably better,” Zimmer quipped.
Zimmer, who said a day earlier that the two “didn’t make me happy,” added: “There was no timeout. I just decided to do what I did. Everything is good.”
Both players, who have signed long-term extensions the past two years, acknowledged their role as team leaders.
“As leaders, some guys look up to us and we have to set an example,” Rhodes said. “That wasn't a great example yesterday. At the end of the day we're going to step in front of the team and tell the team that that's something we shouldn't do as a team. We have to stay together as a brotherhood.”