Former New York Giants Head Coach and Bill Belichick mentor Bill Parcels once said jokingly (but probably not so much) "if you aint cheatin', you aint tryin' ". It seems that his protage and three time world champion, Belichick took those words with grave seriousness. In the Dayton Daily News this week, a former Cleveland Browns defensive lineman named Chad Eaton, who played for Belichick when Belichick was their head coach, said that Belichick paid him money to start fights with his teammates when he was a member of the practice squad in 1995.
He said Belichick used the "fights" as some sort of gladiatorial pep rally if practices were going too slow for his liking. He was rewarded with some extra cash in his locker on Friday after that weeks battle. This may have been the first time Belichick facilitated this questionable scenario, but its not the first time he has been accused of it. In 2000, then New England Patriot Rob Gatrell, claimed Belichick paid him to start fights against DB Lawyer Milloy. Of course Belichick denied the accusations and he probably will deny this one. But what are the odds that both men decide to lie about the same thing 11 years apart.
Of course this smudge on his reputaion is added to an already infamous strike against Belichicks character (which doesn't even include his fashion sense). Spygate was one of the most glaring blows against the NFL in a long time. This was of course because it contained a Super Bowl Champion coach video taping signals from another team, essentially CHEATING. Belichick, who is supposed to be a football mastermind actually had the stones to claim ignorance of the rules with regard to filming other teams signals and practices. Yes, practices my NFL disciples. As you may recall, Belichick was also accused of having the St. Louis Rams walk-throughs filmed before they met in Super Bowl XXXVI.
In that contest the Rams were a 14 point favorite and had been blazing through teams with what was called "The Greatest show On Turf". Yet coincidentally, the Patriots managed to hold the Rams to 17 points and win that Super Bowl. Coincidence, perhaps. The logical mind would have more trouble accepting that explanation in light of Belichicks growing history of shady and questionable tactics. It certainly questions the legitimacy of that championship which was added to a string of three that started with the glorification of a play that is as mysterious as the uncharted universe, "The Tuck Rule"
And finally, it should be mentioned that Michael Vick was arrested, imprisoned and suspended from the NFL for paying money to have dogs fight with each other. I know boxing is legal, but you need a license to box. Other than that, paying people money to engage in fisticuffs for just about any other reason is tiptoeing on the sideline of legality. If nothing else, it's a deplorable way to get a win on Sunday afternoon. You get ejected from a football game just for throwing a punch let alone connecting, let alone trying to beat up another player because you were specifically paid to do so. The NFL's interest is to keep Belichick as spotless and as shiny as they can, because of course they have an image worth billions to protect. But Belichick is certainly not making it easy for them, that's for sure. But at least he got his human-fighting ring in order when he got to the Patriots because it certainly wasn't working with the Browns. They sucked.