FOXBORO --Entertaining anecdote or decades-old fuel for the Nanny Brigade? I guess we'll find out in the next few days. Anyway, old friend Chad Eaton revealed to the Dayton Daily News in a recent profile that, way back when Bill Belichick was coaching in Cleveland, Eaton was encouraged to instigate fights. And, lo and behold, an envelope would appear in his locker later that week.
If practice was going slow, hed look at me and just say, Its time, Eaton said. He wanted me to get on somebodys case and start a little fight. I was known for that and it paid off on Fridays. Thered always be some extra money in my locker. Practice players dont make much, so I really appreciated it.The story was brought to light by my friend Mike Florio on Pro Football Talk. It immediately reminded me of a story back in 2000 when Belichick allegedlybought another dustup, that one initiated by Rob Gattrell. Chad Finn of The Boston Globe found the story of a source telling Nick Cafardo that Gattrell was paid 200 to go after Lawyer Milloy. Belichick denied it back in 2000. And when asked about the Eaton story on Friday, Belichick said he didn't remember such a thing happening. Florio noted that greasing palms with cash for any reason may run afoul of NFL salary cap rules. Hopefully, the statute of limitations has long since kicked in and the league doesn't send its investigative geniuses sniffing around to see if Belichick's still running a practice squad fight club.My hunch is that he probably isn't.
First, that 2000 Patriots team and those Cleveland teams were trying to forge indentities. This team has established its identity. Belichick has also been heard on NFL Films segments in recent years taking a stance against practice fighting, seeing it as a waste of energy. And the cost of help now compared to back then makes it unlikely that he'd be interested in risking hands, knees and personnel by asking for a brouhaha.