From time-to-time, ESPN has been chided here for folding under NFL pressure and canceling its most popular series, Playmakers. Here are two more episodes that aren’t fiction, but real-life NFL.

Bears center Olin Kreutz fractured teammate Fred Miller’s jaw in a fight last week.

Miller needed surgery last week after initially saying he hurt his jaw in a fall at his home last Monday.

“We’re disappointed - and I really found this out later on in the week - we’re disappointed in the fact we weren’t told right away,” head coach Lovie Smith said Monday.

“But you know when you have a season going like this, guys like to protect the team as much as possible and that’s what happened.”

“We realize it was something very stupid on both of our parts and it’s not going to happen again,” Miller, an offensive tackle, said as he apologized to his family, his teammates and Kreutz. Smith said neither of the combatants would be fined.

What is odd is that both men play on the offensive line, so this was not an offense vs. defense battle that spilled over from practice.

For real heart-wrenching drama, Playmakers could not top the week of Bill Parcells, Dallas Cowboys head coach. He learned his closest brother, Don Parcells, was gravely ill and in his final hours of a long battle with brain cancer. Parcells did not disclose this to his team as it prepared for the Monday Night Football game at Philadelphia. On Monday, he drove to his brother’s funeral service in New Jersey, a three-hour round trip from Philadelphia.

After the Cowboys’ come-from-behind win secured by Roy Williams’ interception return for a touchdown, Parcells said, “There’s a lot of emotion for me here today. I don’t mean to dwell on any of that, but I’ll tell you what I told the players. I got a message there today that said, ‘Don’t have a troubled heart,’ and I don’t. I’ve got those guys in there [the locker room].”

Said Williams: “He’s our coach. We wanted to do this for him.”

Again, the NFL is better than any reality series on TV - including cable.

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