Belichick downplays reputed Brady-Moss tiff, eyes next game

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Bill Belichick wants to leave the Randy Moss trade behind and focus on playing the Baltimore Ravens.

But the subject keeps coming up.

The New England Patriots coach downplayed a report that Moss and quarterback Tom Brady had an altercation before the wide receiver was traded to the Minnesota Vikings last Wednesday.

"That's news to me," Belichick said Monday during a conference call.

Did he ask Brady whether or not the spat occurred?

"That's my answer. News to me," Belichick said.

With his team returning from its bye week before Sunday's game against the Ravens, Belichick said he spent time during the weekend trying "to catch up on some stuff with the family and kids. Watch them play."

But in a pregame show Sunday, CBS analyst Charley Casserly reported that Brady and Moss "went-toe-to-toe and had to be separated" the week before the trade.

Casserly, general manager of the Washington Redskins from 1989 to 1999 and Houston Texans from 2000 to 2006, said: "One of Brady's problems with Moss was his behavior as a Patriot. Then one of the things that was overheard was Brady telling Moss, 'You need to cut your beard.' Moss counters, 'You need to get your hair cut. You look like a girl.'"

Moss and Brady praised each other after the trade, as had been their custom in public comments throughout their three-plus seasons as teammates.

"Being able to come from a place such as New England, having a great Hall of Fame quarterback in Tom Brady, a Hall of coach in Bill Belichick and then being able to come to a Hall of Fame quarterback in Brett (Favre), what else can you ask for?" Moss said the day of the trade.

"Randy really knows how I feel about him," Brady said the next day in an interview for Patriots All-Access on WBZ-TV. "I love him as a guy, as a person, as a player. (He) did a lot of great things for this team."

The day after the trade, Belichick downplayed any input that Brady might have had in the move.

"Tom doesn't make personnel decisions," the coach said.

Belichick also said then that he never had an incident or discipline problem with Moss. When asked if that applied to other team personnel, the coach said, "I told you what I thought about Randy."

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Belichick also described as "total fabrication" a report by former Patriots wide receiver Troy Brown on the New England Cable News network last week that after a 41-14 victory in Miami two days before the trade, "apparently, Belichick came to the back of the plane to speak with Randy, and Randy just pretty much ignored him."

On Monday, Belichick's reaction to Casserly's report was mild compared to his comments after the analyst said one week before the Patriots' Jan. 10 playoff loss to the Ravens that Brady had been playing with three broken ribs.

"Who's been wrong more than Charley Casserly since he left the Redskins?" Belichick said on WEEI radio. "He has no relationship to this team."

In that playoff game and the four regular-season games that preceded it, Brady was listed on the Patriots' injury report with injuries to a rib, right finger and right shoulder.

Brady has been healthy and effective this season as the Patriots have started with a 3-1 record. But his last game against the Ravens was one of the worst of his career, with three interceptions, three sacks and a 54.7 completion percentage.

The Ravens (4-1) are coming off their most dominant performance of the season, a 31-17 victory over the Denver Broncos on Sunday in which Ray Rice ran for 133 yards and two touchdowns. In the playoff game against New England, Rice rushed for 159 yards, starting with an 83-yard touchdown on the game's first offensive play.

"Anytime your season ends, you remember that game," Belichick said, "but now we have a chance to play that team again. It's a new matchup. It's a new game. Hopefully, we can learn from some of the things that happened in that game."

Moss, a dangerous deep threat, had five catches for just 48 yards in that game.

Now that Moss is gone, the Patriots' downfield passing game is weaker with second-year pro Brandon Tate expected to start in the outside spot.

"We'll go through the same process we go through every week, which is look at the team that we're playing and look at what our options are, and try to come up with the best game plan that we can against them," Belichick said. "I think we'll still be using the same playbook."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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