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Not wasting any time

Gators, Hurricanes square off on Bourbon Street

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Posted: Thursday December 28, 2000 12:45 PM
Updated: Thursday December 28, 2000 9:09 PM

  Alex Brown Florida defensive lineman Alex Brown reportedly received a welt below an eye from the scuffle. AP

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Apparently, Florida and Miami couldn't wait to resume hostilities in a rivalry that has been on hold for 13 seasons.

A handful of Gators and Hurricanes were involved in a scuffle on Bourbon Street on Wednesday night, the first night both teams were in town to prepare for the Sugar Bowl.

"I guess by last night's events, the rivalry is back, sort of to where it used to be," Florida coach Steve Spurrier said Thursday.

Two Gators were handcuffed, taken to the police station and questioned for about 30 minutes, but no arrests were made and police didn't file an incident report.

How the fight started and the number of people involved varied depending on whose version was told. An eyewitness account from a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel said as many as 40 players were involved. A statement from police numbered it at between 10 and 15.

Coaches, players and police all seemed to agree the fight was minor. No disciplinary action was taken and, other than a scrape under the left eye of Florida defensive end Alex Brown, no visible injuries were noted.

"It was a bunch of trash talking, we just didn't have the pads on," Florida offensive lineman Kenyatta Walker said.

The fight may have rekindled a flame that seemed to die when Florida took Miami off its schedule after the 1987 season. Few of the current players viewed this rivalry as a blood feud. Suddenly, they may have new reason to get fired up.

"It's a bitter rivalry now," Florida linebacker Travis Carroll said. "This just heats it up a bit."

Brown, Reche Caldwell, Gerard Warren, Jabar Gaffney and Andra Davis were among the Florida players involved, according to the Sentinel.

A reporter from WQAM radio in Miami, the flagship station for the Hurricanes, witnessed the verbal confrontation that led to the fight a few minutes later. He said Miami players involved in the shouting included Al Blades, James Lewis, Troy Prasek, Jarvis Gray and Jim Wilson.

"I heard it was a verbal altercation and they did what police asked them to do, which was to walk away from it," Miami coach Butch Davis said. "Our players were very, very proactive in getting out of there, getting to team hotel. I'm proud of our team."

Warren and another Gators player, not identified by New Orleans police, were taken to the police station for questioning. Warren declined comment. Spurrier said he wouldn't be so quick to condemn his star defensive lineman.

"You could say it's troubling, or you could say he jumped in there while one guy was getting clobbered by six or seven of them," Spurrier said. "That's the story we got. You've got to get a guy who wasn't a Gator or a Hurricane to tell you what happened. All we can do is say what we know. I'm sure they have their side of the story."

Davis said there was no reason to discipline his players. Spurrier said he wouldn't punish his players unless he got solid information that would show one of them did wrong.

New Orleans police confirmed a fight broke out on Bourbon Street around 11:15 p.m., officers responded to a fight involving several individuals. When they responded, a number of them fled.

No injuries were reported and nobody filed a complaint, so police say there was no reason to file any paperwork.

"We don't document every fight that occurs on Bourbon Street," police spokesman Sgt. Paul Accardo said. "Particularly when there were no injuries and no one's coming forward claiming to be a victim of anything."

The Sentinel reported the fight began in earnest when a Miami player poured a drink over Caldwell's head. Gators linebacker Andra Davis accused Blades of starting the fight.

"We tried to avoid them the whole time," Davis said. "You can only take it so far. They pushed us in a corner and we had to get out of there."

Butch Davis tried to keep Miami players off limits after practice Thursday, although Blades did field a question about his role in the fight.

"I have no comment," Blades said. "They can say whatever they want to say."

Related information
Florida-Miami for national title, state pride
Florida DE Alex Brown, sporting a black eye, says he is just looking forward to winning the bowl game. (78 K)
Miami coach Butch Davis hopes his players will keep level heads. (129 K)
Davis says the game is really no different than any other. (186 K)
Florida coach Steve Spurrier thinks some of his players were just trying to protect their teammates. (156 K)
Spurrier thinks the bowl game is plenty to worry about. (157 K)
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