Does CJ Gardner-Johnson, Leonard Fournette Beef Go Back to This LSU-Florida Scuffle in 2016?
Is there a new rivalry within the rivalry between the New Orleans Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?
Well, I should actually call it an old rivalry (which I'll explain more in just a bit) but in addition to Mike Evans vs. Marshon Lattimore and Tom Brady vs. everyone, I think the CJ Gardner-Johnson vs. Leonard Fournette battle will be one to watch in the coming matchups between these two NFL teams.
If you haven't already seen the video clip, Gardner-Johnson and Fournette had to be separated after the Saints' dramatic win in the final moments of their Week 8 matchup with Tampa Bay.
I remember being on a crazy high as I walked out of my section at the Caesars Superdome but turned around when I heard a ruckus unfolding behind me.
When I turned around I saw a livid Fournette having to be escorted to the tunnel while trying to get at CJ Gardner-Johnson and a group of Saints players who were clearly antagonizing him, possibly by their mere existence after the tough loss.
While CJ Gardner-Johnson is no stranger to living rent-free in opposing players' heads, this scuffle goes a lot deeper than it may seem on a surface level.
Of course, the Saints have a higher level of disdain for any opponent in the NFC South, but CJ and Leonard's beef goes back to their LSU-Florida days. The same way the Saints view their NFC South rivals, LSU despises the entire SEC—but Florida may have an edge when it comes to who their biggest adversaries are.
While the title of most-hated opponent tends to fluctuate depending on who's hot and who's not, Florida is right up there with Alabama as LSU's biggest rival and if you rewind back to 2016, you'll see what I'm talking about.
Things got chippy before LSU and Florida faced off, and tensions were already on high due to disagreements on where the game was being played due to a recent hurricane in Florida. On top of all of that, it was a cold November day in Death Valley with an 11 a.m. kickoff and it didn't take long for players to get a little frisky on the field.
Right before the 20-second mark, you can see a young Leonard Fournette dressed in purple LSU warmups pushing a Florida coach during the scuffle. A Florida player jumps into the frame and has to be held back from the LSU running back.
As a die-hard Saints fan, I'm willing to bet my season tickets that the player we see lunging at Fournette is none other than CJ Gardner-Johnson. You can tell by his build and his hair—oh, and the fact that we've seen that tenacity over his last few seasons with the Saints.
Gardner was a rookie defensive back for the Gators and was definitely there on that frigid November morning in Baton Rouge, and I'm willing to bet it was his first run-in with Fournette.
But it won't be his last.