Washington Football Team defensive tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne had to be separated on the sideline during Sunday night’s 56-14 blowout loss to the Dallas Cowboys after Allen took a swing at his former Alabama teammate in Arlington, Texas.
The two players were sitting next to one another on the bench after an eight-play, 75-yard drive by Dallas early in the second quarter that resulted in the Cowboys’ third touchdown in a row.
“I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist,” Allen said about why it started. “If you look at how that game went, emotions are high, things are high, things happen.”
TV cameras showed Payne and Allen talking to one another. Payne was looking at Allen, who was looking straight ahead. Then Payne, now standing, jabbed a finger into the side of Allen’s head. At that point, Allen stood up, swatted Payne’s hand away with his left hand and took a swing with his right — connecting slightly to the side of Payne’s face.
The players were then separated by three teammates, with line coach Sam Mills Jr. getting in the middle. Payne remained upset while seated on the bench, while Allen was seated nearby. Players kept coming up to Payne, trying to calm him down.
Both players were on the field alongside one another on the ensuing series and finished the game.
“Just a little brotherly disagreement; maybe the wrong place, wrong time, but it happened,” Payne said.
Payne declined to say what prompted the argument and said it’s all good between them. When asked how two players who have been together for so long could end up in a situation like this, he said, “You got brothers? You all fight don’t you? S— happens.”
Washington coach Ron Rivera said he was told about the incident after the game. He spoke to both players about why it happened but said he would not divulge their conversations. He also said there would be no disciplinary action.
“I talked with them, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s where it’s going to stay,” Rivera said. “What my players say to me is nobody’s business.”
Rivera said a lot of it stemmed from the frustration of the three-game losing streak, as well as multiple player injuries and COVID-19 issues. At one point, Washington had 23 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list. It has 14 players on injured reserve, including nine who were either starters or key backups.
“Frustration, wanting to win,” Rivera said, trying to explain the emotions for both players.
Washington has lost three in a row to fall to 6-9, clinching its fifth consecutive losing season. For Payne and Allen, who played together for two years at Alabama and now four years with Washington, the key is not letting this linger.
“When something happens on the field, you never let it carry into the locker room,” Allen said. “Things get heated, we fix them, we sit down as grown men and we move on.
“I’ll take full responsibility for my actions and so will Payne.”