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USC FOOTBALL

Byrd Broke Jaw in a Fight With Smith

April 13, 2005|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

USC flanker Steve Smith said Tuesday that a broken jaw suffered by tight end Dominique Byrd resulted from a fight between the teammates over money owed by Smith.

The fight took place a few weeks ago after the teammates played a video game.

Smith, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound junior, has continued to take part in spring practice, which concludes Saturday. Byrd, 6-3 and 260, has been ineligible to participate because of academic issues.

Coach Pete Carroll said he did not discipline either player.

"They just had a little something that rose up over a stupid thing," Carroll said. "They both feel kind of stupid about it."

Asked if he were concerned that the incident escalated over a debt, Carroll said, "No. Not at all."

Smith said the incident began while he was playing a game against Byrd, to whom he had owed money for about a month.

"I put more money down and I lost the game, and I took it back before the game was over," Smith said. "And then we were like, 'Man, well, we're going to have to fight. It was so stupid."

Smith said the two players left the room where they were playing and went downstairs.

"I was like, 'You know Byrd ... I really don't want to fight you,' " Smith said. "He was like, 'Nah, we've got to.' So I swung."

Smith said Byrd tackled him and the players exchanged a few more punches before Smith left and returned to his apartment.

Smith said he later gave Byrd $200.

"I said I was sorry. He felt the same way," Smith said. "No matter what happened with either one of us, I think we would have been cool because we know we're not supposed to be fighting with teammates."

Byrd was unavailable for comment.

Carroll said he was not worried about how the incident might be perceived.

"The way these guys battle and they do stuff, they live together, there's going to be issues," Carroll said. "Did you ever fight with your brother? ... I'm sorry that somebody got hurt but other than that it's not a big deal. They're fine about it."

*

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office said a case involving cornerback Eric Wright remains under review. Wright, 19, was arrested March 26 on suspicion of rape. He is free on bail but has been suspended indefinitely from the team pending the outcome of police and university investigations. Wright is scheduled to appear in court April 20.... Quarterback Matt Leinart did not attend practice because he was traveling to New York for tonight's Sullivan Award announcement.... Safety Scott Ware will sit out the remainder of spring practice because of a knee bruise suffered during a scrimmage Sunday. Linebacker Ryan Powdrell did not practice because of a concussion, Carroll said.... Cornerback Justin Wyatt (hernia) and safety Darnell Bing (shoulder) practiced in team drills for the first time since undergoing surgeries after the Orange Bowl.

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