Members of the NYPD and FDNY football teams were supposed to line up and shake hands after playing in the “Fun City Bowl” (a charity game) this weekend. Instead, because everyone involved is very big and tough, there was a shoving match and some punches thrown and a lot of yelling.
“I think one of the FDNY guys exchanged words with the NYPD player and then from there, I couldn’t see what was happening, I just saw the crowds come around the player,” Angel Zayas, a freelance photographer who captured some of the fighting on video, told NBC New York. “I heard it happening before I saw it happening.”
In one of Zayas’ videos, uploaded to Vimeo, a firefighter with a torn jersey and bloodied face is seen emerging from the scrum. “He was pulled out of the crowd, the FDNY guy,” he told NBC. “It was trickling out the side, you could see the blood on the side of his head.”
“They hit our quarterback out of bounds, and that’s how things started,” FDNY coach Steve Orr said. “There were a lot of hotheads there.”
The sides skirmished for several minutes, with players tussling and screaming curses at each other before separating.
But the yelling continued, and a second fight broke out in the middle of the field.
The firefighters returned to their side as the announcer reminded the players that they were taking part in a charity event, and officials let the clock run out without resuming the game.
Police Commissioner William Bratton was reportedly in attendance, but left before the fighting broke out.
This isn’t the first time friendly competition between cops and firefighters has devolved into fisticuffs: In 2014, a hockey game between the departments was overshadowed by a bench-clearing brawl. It also happened in Boston, in The Departed.
The NYPD issued a statement on Monday: “Football is a competitive sport, whether it is the NFL Super Bowl or the annual NYPD-FDNY challenge. It is part of the spirit of the sport, but it all ends on the field.” That’s easy for them to say, though: The NYPD won 29-13.