Belichick's old plan for punching up practice

564308.jpg

Belichick's old plan for punching up practice

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.

Are Patriots still 'pissed off' at Ravens for Deflategate role?

Are Patriots still 'pissed off' at Ravens for Deflategate role?

The Patriots should always be motivated heading into games against the Ravens. After all, Baltimore might be the team’s primary rival. 

Yet Monday’s matchup might be about more than past meetings. It could be a revenge game for the Ravens’ role in the Deflategate fiasco. 

As Tom E. Curran notes in the above video, the then-recently eliminated Ravens set off the ordeal when they tipped off the Colts entering the 2014 AFC Championship game. From there, the year-and-a-half-long saga played itself out, ultimately resulting in Tom Brady accepting a four-game suspension from the league. 

Curran and Mike Giardi discussed whether Monday could be a revenge game, with them both concluding that they feel the Patriots are still “pissed off” at the Ravens. 

"I’m just reading the tea leaves,” Curran said. “Bill Belichick will usually throw bouquet after bouquet at the Baltimore Ravens any time they play, from Ozzie Newsome, to George Kokinis, to Eric DeCosta, to John Harbaugh, Dean Pees, everyone. Not a lot of that today. Make of that what you will; I don’t think it’s a coincidence because I do know that when the Patriots were going through the process early on, the fact that the Ravens had dropped a dime -- their assistant special teams coach Jerry Rosburg calling the Indianapolis Colts and saying, “Look there was some foolishness going on with the K balls.’

“Additionally, when that email from the Colts to the NFL was sent to Mike Kensil, it said, 'It’s well-known throughout the league that the Patriots screw with the balls after they’ve been checked by the officials.' So if that conversation was going on during the week between those two teams, one certainly has to surmise that they also spoke about the fact of deflating footballs. 

“So as much as John Harbaugh has tried to dissuade anyone from thinking there was involvement, Dean Pees was interviewed by Ted Wells, Jerry Rosburg was interviewed by Ted Wells. Those are the only two principals from other organizations who were involved, so yeah, I think they’re still probably pretty pissed off about it.” 

What if Belichick had coached the Ravens? 'I think we would've been competitive'

What if Belichick had coached the Ravens? 'I think we would've been competitive'

FOXBORO -- Ever wonder what might've been if Bill Belichick had remained the coach of the Browns, and later the Ravens, after they moved from Cleveland? He says he doesn't.

[And maybe it's a good thing that he doesn't, as his last memories with the organization saw fans literally rip the team's stadium apart and throw it onto the field.]

"I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about it, no," Belichick told Baltimore reporters during a conference call on Wednesday. "I try to think ahead and make the best of the situation that I’m in, which is what I tried to do when I was in Cleveland. I took a team that wasn’t very good in 1991, prior to free agency and all of that, had a real good team in 1994. The team moved in 1995."

The decision to move the team helped undo the Browns season in 1995, and Belichick was later fired. There's little denying, though, that he left the pieces of a competitive roster behind. And he helped stock the Ravens' cupboard with valuable assets.

Five years after Belichick's tenure in Cleveland had expired, the franchise won a Super Bowl with linebacker Ray Lewis -- drafted with a pick Belichick had acquired -- as its foundational piece. 

"We made a trade that provided two first-round picks that Ozzie [Newsome] did a great job with," Belichick continued. "Ozzie and Ray Lewis were two of the cornerstones of that eventual championship team.

"I have a lot of confidence in my ability, I had a lot of confidence in the coaching staff and the players that we had at that time – 1995 wasn’t obviously a great year for us. I don’t think we need to talk about that. We all know what happened. But yeah, I think we would have been competitive if I had been the head coach there. I think we would have been competitive. We had a good team, we had a good staff, and we had a lot of good players.

"Ozzie did a good job with that team and made it better, and they won a championship five years later [with] some of the same players that we started with. But you know, it wasn’t my choice, Ted [Marchibroda] came in there and was going to transition that for what they needed at that point in time. But I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about it, no."