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Eaton's NFL start came as linchpin of Belichick's 'Fight Club'

  • By Marc Sessler NFL.com
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Former NFL defensive lineman Chad Eaton's ferocity on the field was real -- except for when it wasn't.

He hasn't played since 2004, but Eaton emerged this week to drop something of a bombshell in a wide-ranging interview this week with the Dayton Daily News. Eaton claims that way back in 1995, as a practice squad player with the Browns, he was paid by his head coach to start fights in practice. A coach by the name of Bill Belichick.

Belichick's Browns were coming off a 1994 season in which they allowed an NFL-low 204 points on defense, but when his 1995 squad lacked that same punch in practice, Belichick turned to the quirky, hyper-aggressive Eaton to set a fire.

"If practice was going slow, he'd look at me and just say, 'It's time,' " Eaton told the newspaper. "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, now a defensive line coach at Central State University in Ohio, went on to a solid career with the Patriots, Seahawks and Cowboys, leaving Hoodie's petty cash in the dust -- but the revelation is yet another peek behind the curtain at Belichick, a puppet master from the get-go.

Belichick told reporters Friday he has no memory of the pay-for-fisticuffs affair. His 1995 Browns tumbled to a 5-11 record amid owner Art Modell's explosive announcement that the team would relocate to Baltimore. It's unclear if Belichick did anything wrong here, but Eaton clearly did. 

The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club.

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