Posted by Mike Florio on November 4, 2011, 10:37 AM EDT
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 theDayton 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.