FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — New York Jets senior defensive assistant Tony Oden was back to work and in good spirits Thursday, one day after being injured during a practice brawl.
Oden was struck during an altercation between players at a joint practice between the Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday. He was carted off the field and taken to the hospital, but he returned to his office later that evening to watch practice film.
Oden, whose left arm was in a sling, downplayed his injury Thursday, calling it “a little war wound” and adding, “I’ll be all right.” He declined to specify the nature of his injury, except to say it’s “a little uncomfortable at times.” He went through a full practice and was seen throwing passes — with his right arm, of course.
There were several skirmishes between the Jets and Bucs, who play Saturday night at MetLife Stadium. Oden, 50, who coaches the cornerbacks, was struck as a fight began to escalate. Coach Robert Saleh said Oden was hit by “friendly fire.”
Oden said his wife, knowing tempers tend to flare in joint practices, made him promise to stay out of harm’s way.
“She said, ‘Do not try to break up any fights.’ I said, ‘I won’t,'” Oden said. “I was not trying to break up a fight. I was trying to prevent it from happening. Those guys were a little too big, a little too fast for me. I didn’t move my feet well enough, and I kind of got caught up a little bit.”
Oden fell to the ground and appeared to lose consciousness during the skirmish, but he denied it Thursday.
“Nah, I just got tired and decided to sit down for a while,” he said. “It was hot.”
Clearly, Oden didn’t want to make himself the story. As he noted, “These [players] deal with way worse than this, so I’ll be danged if I’m going to talk about anything that I have. I’m just a coach. All I have to do is hold a clipboard.”
Oden said his wife was angry and asked him, “What were you thinking?”
The Jets and Bucs were supposed to have another practice Thursday, but the Jets cancelled earlier in the week. Ironically, Saleh cited player safety as the reason, claiming injuries and fights tend to happen in the second day of joint practices.
The Bucs, scrambling for a practice field in New Jersey, wound up at the New York Giants’ facility.