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Former player says Belichick paid him to start fights in practice

ChadEatonGetty Getty Images

The last time the Patriots prepared to face the Giants, a bombshell was dropped by the Boston Herald.  Former Pats beat writer John Tomase reported — and later retracted — that the Patriots had secretly filmed the Rams’ walk-through practice prior to Super Bowl XXXVI.

As the Patriots prepare to face the Giants for the first time since the day that 18-0 became 18-1 in February 2008, another controversy has surfaced, albeit far less inflammatory.

Former NFL defensive lineman Chad Eaton, in a profile published Thursday by the Dayton Daily News, blurts out that, when he was a member of the Browns’ practice squad, coach Bill Belichick paid Eaton to start fights in practice.

“If practice was going slow, he’d look at me and just say, ‘It’s time,’” Eaton said.  “He wanted me to get on somebody’s [case] and start a little fight.  I was known for that and it paid off on Fridays.  There’d always be some extra money in my locker.  Practice players don’t make much, so I really appreciated it.”

Eaton spent five seasons with the Patriots after his time in Cleveland ended.  His time in New England overlapped with Belichick by only one year, in 2000.

Belichick has a reputation for greasing the palms of the various P-H-D (poor, hungry, driven) employees who work for the front office and coaching staff.  Giving extra cash to players raises the specter of potential salary-cap violations.

It’s highly unlikely that anything will come of this, given that Eaton is talking about things that happened more than 15 years ago.  But any hint of a potential rules violation by the Patriots and/or Belichick is sure to get PFT Planet’s juices flowing on a fairly slow Friday morning, regardless of whether any, some, or all of the other 31 coaches were doing the same thing.

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83 Responses to “Former player says Belichick paid him to start fights in practice”
  1. joetoronto says: Nov 4, 2011 10:38 AM

    I believe this 100%

    After all, it’s Bill Bellichick we’re talking about here.

  2. mikebyrne1502 says: Nov 4, 2011 10:39 AM

    Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater…

  3. Davo says: Nov 4, 2011 10:40 AM

    Didn’t Rex Ryan do this on TV? Hard Knocks – it’s on tape. Why do we have to go back 15 years for evidence of this kind of thing?

  4. r8rsfan says: Nov 4, 2011 10:41 AM

    Looks like the son of Curly Stooge.

  5. polegojim says: Nov 4, 2011 10:42 AM

    Stir thing up during practice.

    Get the juices flowing when things are flat… I’d take that role any day.

  6. Davo says: Nov 4, 2011 10:42 AM

    Ryan was so concerned by the player’s lack of fire that he actually assigned backup center Rob Turner — the Jets’ version of a hockey goon — to pick a fight with Gholston in practice.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/new-york/nfl/news/story?id=5484047

  7. 14whodey18 says: Nov 4, 2011 10:43 AM

    Great, are we gonna spend the next 6 months hearing about “fight-gate”? No thanks.

  8. cakemixa says: Nov 4, 2011 10:44 AM

    lol

  9. Cheesehead Ken says: Nov 4, 2011 10:44 AM

    I’m not a Belichick fan, but this made me like him more.

  10. tkebean says: Nov 4, 2011 10:44 AM

    Salary Cap violations, taping defensive signals, taping a walk through…great coach or great cheater? As more and more of this stuff that comes out I’m not so sure which category he falls into anymore.

  11. EJ says: Nov 4, 2011 10:45 AM

    Here we go again!!
    More rule bending by Belichick.
    Can somebody say *Asterisk*?

  12. Cheesehead Ken says: Nov 4, 2011 10:45 AM

    @Davo – the issue is that he got paid extra for it.

  13. tkebean says: Nov 4, 2011 10:46 AM

    Difference between Ryan and Belichick is that Ryan didn’t pay off his players and therefore had no chance of violating salary cap rules.

  14. 8man says: Nov 4, 2011 10:51 AM

    Darth BB, the Master Manipulator!

    Put that up your ass-terisk PFT Planet!

    Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!

  15. Davo says: Nov 4, 2011 10:52 AM

    @Cheesehead Ken – No, the issue is he’s Bill Belichick.

  16. fissels says: Nov 4, 2011 10:52 AM

    Good coaching. Period.

  17. cjepp says: Nov 4, 2011 10:52 AM

    Even though it’s against NFL rules, I see nothing wrong w this. I think it’s pretty awesome actually. Help a struggling guy out financially while making my team more competitive. For all we know the money coulda been Bills personal money to begin with. Nothing wrong with doing what it takes to add some competitiveness.

  18. bozosforall says: Nov 4, 2011 10:53 AM

    Belichick is a slimeball, plain and simple.

  19. marcuswelby70 says: Nov 4, 2011 10:54 AM

    Guess it’s too early in the morning for most of the Trolls.

  20. toledoohoh says: Nov 4, 2011 10:56 AM

    How exactly would this be violating salary cap rules? You can pay PS players whatever you want, can’t you? Some Patriots PS players have been paid as if they were on the 53.

  21. nxsteven says: Nov 4, 2011 10:57 AM

    Davo says: Nov 4, 2011 10:40 AM

    Didn’t Rex Ryan do this on TV? Hard Knocks – it’s on tape. Why do we have to go back 15 years for evidence of this kind of thing?
    ————

    He didn’t pay anyone on the side for it…

    Either way, this is a non-story unless the guy was getting paid a ton of money. Also, will be kind of funny when the IRS comes knocking on his door~

  22. trickbunny says: Nov 4, 2011 11:00 AM

    Ha ha… Love that picture, btw. Poster boy for ‘roid rage!

  23. jaxpat says: Nov 4, 2011 11:03 AM

    So many hate on Belichick. Fact is all these so called football fans that call him a cheat, would love to have there team win 3 championships! FYI if so many people hate on the Patriots they must be doing something right!!! Haters Hate, Patriots Win! (Oh and PolamaluHeadand Shoulders doesnt cheat at all)

  24. benh999 says: Nov 4, 2011 11:03 AM

    If he was on the practice squad at the time, are there salary cap implications?

  25. nfloracle says: Nov 4, 2011 11:06 AM

    You need to do something to motivate the slackers during practice and a good fight aways gets the juices flowing a little faster. Just another reason BB has won so many games during his career.

  26. cfmaguire9 says: Nov 4, 2011 11:13 AM

    If you substituted Ken Whisenhunt or some other lower-profile coach in this story either A) no one would care or B) people would think its a good idea.

  27. axespray says: Nov 4, 2011 11:14 AM

    if it’s to motivate the browns to play football, then is it such a crime?

    Remember the patriots before Belichick?

  28. miamiron says: Nov 4, 2011 11:16 AM

    And I wondered why players always speak well of Tony Sparano must be costing him Millions

  29. fcs34 says: Nov 4, 2011 11:16 AM

    The NFL is awash in revenues and I’m suppossed to give a crap if some pratice squad player got paid a little extra ? Lame.

  30. superschrec says: Nov 4, 2011 11:20 AM

    Who would have ever thought that BB was a cheater???
    Not like he could have got anywhere with out cheating.

  31. kellyb9 says: Nov 4, 2011 11:21 AM

    Salary cap violations for a few bucks here and there… give me a break. That’s a complete joke… especially since its a practice squad player.

  32. hineswardcriesafterfumbling says: Nov 4, 2011 11:21 AM

    It’s too bad most of his Cleveland teams couldn’t show any fight on the field…

    Anyway, I used to dislike Belichick, grew up calling him Belichoke, but instances like this and the TV special on him, I think he’s an excellent coach.

  33. bleedgreen says: Nov 4, 2011 11:23 AM

    As far as I’m aware, practice squad salaries do not count towards the salary cap.

  34. tomosbornesretirementcostjoepaatitle says: Nov 4, 2011 11:26 AM

    I’m no rocket scientist, but 2011-2000 is not greater than 15.

  35. tuckyous says: Nov 4, 2011 11:31 AM

    Aside from salary cap implications, what’s the problem here?

  36. alltee says: Nov 4, 2011 11:37 AM

    to bad all the pats haters are to stupid to realise that thier dreams of the nfl doing something about this totally stupid story would mean that the browns would be in the biggest trouble.

  37. Patskrieg dot com says: Nov 4, 2011 11:39 AM

    Give it up Belichick haters. If this was anybody else you’d all buffing his clipboard chirping about what a great motivational tactic it is. I like it. If I didn’t think it was impossible I wish he’d hire somebody to permanently harass Albert Haynesworth and get a modicum of productive emotion out of him.

  38. Andre's Johnson says: Nov 4, 2011 11:41 AM

    Salary cap implications? What the hell, man? You have got to stop making up crap.

    This is a practice squad guy. Salary cap?

    I have begun to lose respect for you. Your credibility and motives look suspect, more so over the last week or two.

    Stop trying to fabricate news.

  39. dabruinz says: Nov 4, 2011 11:43 AM

    @bleedgreen- practice squad salaries do count against the cap. There is nothing illegal as long as the money is accounted for. Which Eaton has no way of knowing and, per usual, PFT doesn’t bother to investigate.

  40. habsman says: Nov 4, 2011 11:48 AM

    Three Shiney Lombardi’s (More to come).

    Thats All.

  41. yzguy431 says: Nov 4, 2011 11:49 AM

    Salary cap implications? What the hell, man? You have got to stop making up crap.

    This is a practice squad guy. Salary cap?

    I have begun to lose respect for you. Your credibility and motives look suspect, more so over the last week or two.

    Stop trying to fabricate news.

    i was going to say the same thing. what do you expect from a west verginia lawyer, though. oh, he’s a football guy now, right.

  42. dabruinz says: Nov 4, 2011 11:49 AM

    @ tomosborne- well, clearly you didn’t read the article. It clearly states that Eaton received the money while with Cleveland. I know this might be hard for you, but BB was coach in Cleveland from 92-95. Hence the 15 years.

  43. mhalt99 says: Nov 4, 2011 11:56 AM

    wow slow news days……….

  44. rajbais says: Nov 4, 2011 11:58 AM

    Wow! Kyle Turley could’ve played for Bill Belichick!!!

  45. ken1313 says: Nov 4, 2011 12:01 PM

    Very common practice in the NFL…matter of fact, BB learned it right from Bill Parcells who talked about doing this very thing a few years back. Nothing to see here…no story

  46. jeepin08 says: Nov 4, 2011 12:07 PM

    Does anyone have any video of this accusation ? No, wait…

  47. londonfletcher says: Nov 4, 2011 12:16 PM

    The first rule of Belichick Fight Club is you don’t talk about Belichick Fight Club!

  48. TIM says: Nov 4, 2011 12:44 PM

    The fact is that every player has a contract (even the PS players) and the team is not allowed to pay them one cent more in money or services or goods etc,or it IS a salary cap violation,just as much as if they gave a top line player a million dollars under the table !

  49. keeponhating says: Nov 4, 2011 12:59 PM

    It’s highly unlikely that anything will come of this, given thatits Bill Belichick and not some other coach

  50. phillyboy20 says: Nov 4, 2011 1:03 PM

    @dabruinz you would be the one that is wrong. Practice squad is not part of the 53 man roster therefore their salaries do NOT count against the salary cap. Not to mention even if they did he probably only got a few hundred extra dollars maybe a couple thousand a year tops, so unless they were right up against the cap (which i doubt the browns were) they probably wouldnt have gone over anyway.

  51. mrgdawg says: Nov 4, 2011 1:08 PM

    BB giving out money, makes you wonder what other Favors he’s giving out. (or leaves that up the Brady)

  52. llcamino says: Nov 4, 2011 1:50 PM

    Is that the guy from The Water Boy?

  53. turdfurgerson68 says: Nov 4, 2011 2:34 PM

    Here we go again…rex ryan is shown on TV doing this and not a word from anyone…bill belichick is ALLEGED to have done this and its back to the cheating comments.

    What a bunch of hypocrites! Every coach has employed this tactic at one time…guess every team ‘cheats’?

  54. kevinfromphilly says: Nov 4, 2011 2:36 PM

    This is terrible. Cleveland should be forced to give back their Super Bowl tro…oh, never mind.

  55. mikeysoundtrack says: Nov 4, 2011 2:36 PM

    “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying hard enough”

  56. monkeydeus says: Nov 4, 2011 2:41 PM

    He has a funny way of showing his appreciation. I’d hate to see what he would have said to the press if he was actually mad at Belichick

  57. yevrag3535 says: Nov 4, 2011 2:58 PM

    Couldn’t play, probably couldn’t fight either. Lap dog…..

  58. Deb says: Nov 4, 2011 3:00 PM

    First Rex writes a book detailing his methods for getting players to cooperate. Now this guy is outing Belichick on this motivational tricks. Can’t anyone keep a secret anymore?

  59. philyeagles5 says: Nov 4, 2011 3:04 PM

    since when do practice squad players count againt the salary cap???

  60. keakuamai says: Nov 4, 2011 3:10 PM

    I honestly don’t know what the big deal is if this were true, I mean, so what?

    It’s a known fact that they have such a role player in hockey, an enforcer, why shouldn’t football have a shat stirrer?

  61. hotep999 says: Nov 4, 2011 3:16 PM

    amazing people see this as cheating!!! dude was on the practice squad which does not count against the salary cap.

  62. descendency says: Nov 4, 2011 3:21 PM

    lol@ Salary cap violation talk. I bet this guy wasn’t paid enough to even sniff the cap, let alone break it. A couple of hundred bucks to start a fight would help a lot of guys out.

  63. timegambit says: Nov 4, 2011 3:27 PM

    Why is our country turning into a collection of tattletales?

  64. dwightmlee says: Nov 4, 2011 3:41 PM

    Non-comments on a non-story that, if it was of any validity, it would be topical in the late nineties! Duh, in case you forgot it is 2011 and tiny stunts like these pale in comparison to paying RB Chris Johnson all that money to be the world’s biggest bust now that he is rich… now that’s a scandal. He’ll never have another 100 yard game or 1,000 yard season…

  65. dan39564 says: Nov 4, 2011 3:41 PM

    Don’t know about the extra money part; But Don Shula did this on a regular basis when he Coached the Baltimore Colts, Woe the poor soul who had to pick a fight with Mike Curtis! But it was a regular friday occurance!

    So this in not just a Belichec thing, it is a common practice, most players just don’t tell out of school!

  66. TheWizard says: Nov 4, 2011 3:44 PM

    I hope it’s true.

    I like it.

  67. TheWizard says: Nov 4, 2011 3:47 PM

    BB giving out money, makes you wonder what other Favors he’s giving out

    Familiar with the term “projection” ?

  68. bozosforall says: Nov 4, 2011 3:57 PM

    TheWizard says:
    Nov 4, 2011 3:47 PM
    BB giving out money, makes you wonder what other Favors he’s giving out

    Familiar with the term “projection” ?

    __
    Probably not near as much as Pats fans are familiar with the concept of “He doth protest too much”.

  69. purnellmeagrejr says: Nov 4, 2011 4:02 PM

    polegojim says:

    Get the juices flowing when things are flat… I’d take that role any day.

    N. Suh says: “I’m gonna break off polegojim’s head.”

  70. bozosforall says: Nov 4, 2011 4:03 PM

    dabruinz says:
    Nov 4, 2011 11:43 AM
    @bleedgreen- practice squad salaries do count against the cap. There is nothing illegal as long as the money is accounted for. Which Eaton has no way of knowing and, per usual, PFT doesn’t bother to investigate.
    ___
    WRONG as usual, excusemaking Pats fans. Read it and weep (like the crybabies that you all are):

    “The minimum weekly salary for practice squad players in 2011 (and 2012) is $5,700, an increase of $500 over the 2008-2010 rate. There is no limit to how much a team can pay a practice squad player. Several teams have enticed players with offers of increased pay, usually a few thousand dollars extra, to join or remain on their practice squad. Last season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe, a sixth-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals, a practice squad salary of $319,991 to sign with them. Instances like that may be rare this season, as practice squad contracts count towards the salary cap.”

  71. bozosforall says: Nov 4, 2011 4:10 PM

    More clearly stated:

    “Who falls under the Salary Cap?

    Answer: The “Team Salary” falls under the Salary Cap. Team salary includes the amount a team must pay its current or former players under their player contracts. Notice emphasis on the word PLAYERS. The salary cap does not apply to coaches, assistants, trainers, and other personnel. Only the top 51 player salaries for a team count against the salary cap in the offseason. (Outstanding tenders apply.) During the season, all player salaries count toward the salary cap.”

  72. j0esixpack says: Nov 4, 2011 4:16 PM

    The haters have convinced me that the Patriots 16-0 record after Spygate proves they can’t win without cheating.

  73. dfeltz says: Nov 4, 2011 4:29 PM

    I have zero issue with this. For those of you want to hate on him, anything you can find thinks it justifies your hatred. How much is extra money? It was as little as a couple hundred dollars to a practice player. If you seriously take issue with this, I am guessing Tim Tebow is your favorite player.

  74. prettytonyt says: Nov 4, 2011 4:59 PM

    rex ryan did it for free on hbo hard knocks. who cares lol?

    he had rob turner fight vernon gholston

  75. semperfi24 says: Nov 4, 2011 5:50 PM

    bozosforall says:Nov 4, 2011 4:03 PM

    dabruinz says:
    Nov 4, 2011 11:43 AM
    @bleedgreen- practice squad salaries do count against the cap. There is nothing illegal as long as the money is accounted for. Which Eaton has no way of knowing and, per usual, PFT doesn’t bother to investigate.
    ___
    WRONG as usual, excusemaking Pats fans. Read it and weep (like the crybabies that you all are):

    “The minimum weekly salary for practice squad players in 2011 (and 2012) is $5,700, an increase of $500 over the 2008-2010 rate. There is no limit to how much a team can pay a practice squad player. Several teams have enticed players with offers of increased pay, usually a few thousand dollars extra, to join or remain on their practice squad. Last season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe, a sixth-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals, a practice squad salary of $319,991 to sign with them. Instances like that may be rare this season, as practice squad contracts count towards the salary cap.”
    ________________________________

    Bozos, you are one of the leaders in the club house when it comes to bashing the Pats, etc, but isnt your post basically saying that Belichick isnt breaking any rules??? You said it yourself, “There is no limit to how much a team can pay a practice squad player.” So if BB wants to pay a practice squad guy $500 a week to light a fire in the team, he isnt doing anything wrong, right? Kind of surprised you would take the side of Belichick, just to stick it to a Pats fan. Isnt that like cutting off your nose to spite your face?

  76. tedmurph says: Nov 4, 2011 5:56 PM

    bozosforall says:Nov 4, 2011 4:10 PM

    More clearly stated:

    “Who falls under the Salary Cap?

    Only the top 51 player salaries for a team count against the salary cap in the offseason. (Outstanding tenders apply.) During the season, all player salaries count toward the salary cap.”
    ———————————————————-
    Almost had it. Once the season starts, top 53 players plus players on injured reserve count against the cap, instead of 51. This almost never includes practice squad players, unless they earn more than a player on the active foster. TB could do that w/Briscoe last yr because there was no cap. Bottom line is PS players almost never count against the cap. That’s a fact jack, w/o the spin.

  77. tedmurph says: Nov 4, 2011 6:20 PM

    Saw what you did, pretty weak

  78. gimmeabruschi says: Nov 4, 2011 6:50 PM

    Since this is a much much worse violation of league rules than spygate was, Goodell should take away a Raven #1 pick and fine both the Ravens and BB to be consistent.

  79. bozosforall says: Nov 4, 2011 8:51 PM

    semperfi24 says:
    Nov 4, 2011 5:50 PM
    bozosforall says:Nov 4, 2011 4:03 PM

    dabruinz says:
    Nov 4, 2011 11:43 AM
    @bleedgreen- practice squad salaries do count against the cap. There is nothing illegal as long as the money is accounted for. Which Eaton has no way of knowing and, per usual, PFT doesn’t bother to investigate.
    ___
    WRONG as usual, excusemaking Pats fans. Read it and weep (like the crybabies that you all are):

    “The minimum weekly salary for practice squad players in 2011 (and 2012) is $5,700, an increase of $500 over the 2008-2010 rate. There is no limit to how much a team can pay a practice squad player. Several teams have enticed players with offers of increased pay, usually a few thousand dollars extra, to join or remain on their practice squad. Last season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe, a sixth-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals, a practice squad salary of $319,991 to sign with them. Instances like that may be rare this season, as practice squad contracts count towards the salary cap.”
    ________________________________

    Bozos, you are one of the leaders in the club house when it comes to bashing the Pats, etc, but isnt your post basically saying that Belichick isnt breaking any rules??? You said it yourself, “There is no limit to how much a team can pay a practice squad player.” So if BB wants to pay a practice squad guy $500 a week to light a fire in the team, he isnt doing anything wrong, right? Kind of surprised you would take the side of Belichick, just to stick it to a Pats fan. Isnt that like cutting off your nose to spite your face?

    __
    Never said that he did anything wrong…so get your panties out of that wad. All I did was to show that any money counts towards the cap. However, if he isn’t reporting the money, it IS a violation of the reporting requirement (basically cheating).

  80. bozosforall says: Nov 4, 2011 8:53 PM

    tedmurph says:
    Nov 4, 2011 5:56 PM
    bozosforall says:Nov 4, 2011 4:10 PM

    More clearly stated:

    “Who falls under the Salary Cap?

    Only the top 51 player salaries for a team count against the salary cap in the offseason. (Outstanding tenders apply.) During the season, all player salaries count toward the salary cap.”
    ———————————————————-
    Almost had it. Once the season starts, top 53 players plus players on injured reserve count against the cap, instead of 51. This almost never includes practice squad players, unless they earn more than a player on the active foster. TB could do that w/Briscoe last yr because there was no cap. Bottom line is PS players almost never count against the cap. That’s a fact jack, w/o the spin.

    __
    I didn’t make that up. It was reported that way in more than one article. No spin whatsoever. And the cap DOES include practice squad players, no matter how you want to deny it.

  81. tedmurph says: Nov 4, 2011 11:47 PM

    You can pretend Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy exists too, Hold your breath, close your eyes and wish as hard as you can. Only problem is, you don’t have your facts straight. Do some research, you’ll figure it out slappy. Cap includes top 53 active players on the roster plus injured reserve. NOT CAP PLAYERS! Period/end of story. You just don’t know what you’re talking about. As I’m sure you’ve been told. Many times.

  82. tedmurph says: Nov 5, 2011 12:11 AM

    TYPO: NOT PRACTICE SQUAD PLAYERS

  83. bozosforall says: Nov 8, 2011 1:17 AM

    tedmurph says:
    Nov 4, 2011 11:47 PM
    You can pretend Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy exists too, Hold your breath, close your eyes and wish as hard as you can. Only problem is, you don’t have your facts straight. Do some research, you’ll figure it out slappy. Cap includes top 53 active players on the roster plus injured reserve. NOT CAP PLAYERS! Period/end of story. You just don’t know what you’re talking about. As I’m sure you’ve been told. Many times.


    And you can pretend that you don’t don the Pats kneepads to orally service Tom Brady on a weekly basis too. Hold your breath, close your eyes, open your mouth and pray he doesn’t choke you. Do some research and you end up being the slappy. Cap only includes the top 53 in the OFFSEASON. In the REGULAR season, the practice squad counts against the cap. You just don’t know what you are talking about. As I’m sure your fellow idiot Pats fans have neglected to tell you. Many times. Because they are as stupid as you are.

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