Jason Kelce admitted 'cheap shot' sparks Eagles-Colts brawl

ByTim McManus ESPN logo
Tuesday, August 22, 2023

PHILADELPHIA -- PHILADELPHIA -- A sideline-clearing brawl erupted between the Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts at Tuesday's joint practice, cutting the session short.

The melee was sparked when Eagles center Jason Kelce blindsided Zaire Franklin at the end of a play, dropping the Colts linebacker to the ground. Kelce appeared to take umbrage with Franklin getting extra physical with running back Kenneth Gainwell on consecutive plays.

Kelce took ownership of his actions afterward, calling his hit on Franklin a "cheap shot."

"We try and keep things civil on the field, and I pride myself on being a guy that sustains the emotions and level of play out there, and I let my emotions get the better of me," Kelce said. "That certainly doesn't belong out there on the field, and a little ashamed that it got to that level."

Kelce said that he did not meet up with Franklin following practice to address the situation because "probably tensions are a little bit too high for that right now."

"When you have joint practices against other organizations, sometimes your speed ain't their speed," said Franklin, a Philadelphia native. "People get offended -- that's life.

"Growing up in Philly, watching [Kelce] for a long time -- lot of respect for him. Talked to him a little bit after we played them last year. I thought the OGs would at least look me in the eye before [hitting me], but it's all good. I might get a chance to look him in the eye Thursday, so we're going to be OK."

The Eagles and Colts play each other Thursday night in the preseason finale for both clubs.

The joint practice grew chippy as it wore on. A scuffle broke out near the Colts sideline when Eagles defensive end Derek Barnett knocked the ball out of rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson's hand.

For coaches Nick Sirianni and Shane Steichen, there is plenty of history with the teams they were facing off against. Sirianni, the Colts offensive coordinator from 2018 to '20, took exception to Indianapolis firing his mentor, Frank Reich, last November, and he called it "sweet" to beat the Colts later that month at Lucas Oil Stadium, dedicating the victory to Reich.

Steichen was the offensive coordinator in Philadelphia in 2021-22, helping the Eagles reach Super Bowl LVII last season.

Sirianni dialed up a trick play Tuesday, as Gainwell got the handoff and then threw it down the field to tight end Grant Calcaterra for a long completion. Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts revealed that it was a play Steichen installed when he was with the Eagles last season, but the team never ran it.

Hurts expressed displeasure with the fact that the fight ended practice early.

"It's a competitive game, and I love the competition of it," he said. "This is what I get paid to do -- to play football, so I wanted to practice."

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