Belichick Denies Paying For Fight Brawl At Practice Said To Be Started For $200

Posted: November 21, 2000

New England coach Bill Belichick said yesterday he never paid a practice-squad player $200 to start a fight during workouts last week to try to motivate his team.

Belichick denied reports in Boston newspapers that Rob Gatrell, a rookie center from Fresno State, had been paid to pick a fight with starting strong safety Lawyer Milloy.

The fight developed into a brawl involving about 30 players, the reports said, and is being credited with improving the 3-8 Patriots' intensity before their 16-13 victory over Cincinnati Sunday.

Belichick acknowledged he had investigated new means to motivate the team.

Milloy, a two-time Pro Bowl safety, refused to confirm details of the confrontation. But he agreed that the team had to raise its intensity level after its 19-11 loss at Cleveland the week before and that a spirited practice helped.

In other news:

INJURIES: Alstott sidelined

All-Pro fullback Mike Alstott probably will miss the rest of the regular season after spraining his left knee in Tampa Bay's 13-10 loss to Chicago.

The Buccaneers described Alstott's injury as a third-degree sprain of the medial collateral ligament and said he was expected to be sidelined six to eight weeks. The knee will be placed in a cast for 10 days, then the 260-pound fullback will have to wear a brace for one to three weeks before beginning rehabilitation.

The Bucs also could be without All-Pro safety John Lynch this week against Buffalo. Lynch dislocated his right shoulder.

In other injury news:

* New York Giants receiver Ike Hilliard will be hospitalized for two days with bruises to his sternum and a lung, and he probably won't play Sunday against Arizona. He was hit in the chest by Detroit safety Kurt Schulz. An NFL spokesman said the hit would be reviewed to see if disciplinary action was warranted.

* Buffalo cornerback Antoine Winfield will have surgery tomorrow for torn cartilage in his right shoulder and is out for the season. Also, offensive linemen John Fina and Joe Panos both had MRI exams after suffering first-degree knee sprains. The results are expected today.

* A sprained knee could send Cincinnati quarterback Scott Mitchell back to the sideline for at least one game. Replacing the benched Akili Smith, he twisted his left knee on the Bengals' last play during a 16-13 loss in New England. Also, the Bengals lost left guard Matt O'Dwyer with a broken left ankle, and medical tests on offensive tackle Rod Jones came back normal, a day after he had chest pains and dizziness during Sunday's game.

* Tennessee left tackle Brad Hopkins had his dislocated left thumb repaired in surgery. He is expected to be able to play Sunday at Jacksonville.

* Magnetic resonance images taken of Denver running back Terrell Davis' lower left leg were sent to a specialist in San Francisco in hopes of diagnosing his nagging injury. Also, the Broncos learned that cornerback Ray Crockett will be out at least four weeks with a torn left hamstring. And offensive lineman Mark Schlereth is scheduled to have surgery today on his left knee, the 29th procedure of his career - the 15th on his left knee and the third since July. Schlereth, who has hinted at retirement after 12 NFL seasons, was placed on injured reserve last week.

* New York Jets rookie wide receiver Laveraneus Coles will miss Sunday's game against Chicago with a left knee sprain. There was no word on the status of running back Curtis Martin, who left the Miami game Sunday with a back injury.

* Miami quarterback Jay Fiedler (slightly separated shoulder, muscle spasms) and running back Lamar Smith (strained hamstring), both injured in Sunday's loss to the Jets, expect to play this weekend at Indianapolis. Also, linebacker Zach Thomas expects to be back after missing five of the last six games with a sprained ankle.

* Dallas center Mark Stepnoski was ruled out for the season with a sprained ligament in his left knee, and safety Darren Woodson is likely to miss at least one game with a broken forearm.

* Seattle quarterback Brock Huard, who hasn't played since suffering a concussion Oct. 22, returned to practice and is expected to return to the starting job.

* New Orleans quarterback Jeff Blake is expected to undergo season-ending surgery for his fractured and dislocated right foot on Thursday or Friday.

* San Diego defensive end Neil Smith is expected to miss two weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee.

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