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'Cuse Football Players Stabbed

Suddenly, football wasn't such a big deal Monday to the Syracuse Orangemen. They had more pressing matters to consider.

"It's hard to concentrate on anything right now," co-captain Keith Bulluck said as teammate David Byrd lay in a hospital bed just down the road, the victim of a vicious stabbing early Sunday. "Some things are more important than football."

Byrd and two teammates were among five people stabbed during an altercation that happened around 1 a.m. in front of Sadie's Place bar, a well-known trouble spot on the city's west side.

Byrd, a 21-year-old senior defensive back from Schenectady, N.Y., underwent several hours of surgery after being stabbed five times in the neck and back. He was upgraded Monday to serious condition in the intensive care unit at University Hospital.

Also hurt were junior defensive end Duke Pettijohn, 22, of Mattapan, Mass., and sophomore reserve lineman Giovanni DeLoatch, 20, of Teaneck, N.J. Pettijohn was treated Sunday at St. Joseph's Hospital for cuts to his body and head and released. DeLoatch, who was admitted to St. Joseph's with similar injuries, was released Monday, head coach Paul Pasqualoni said.

A fourth victim, Myles Thomas, of Boston, a friend of one of the players, remained in critical condition at University Hospital, a hospital administrator said.

Pasqualoni, who spent much of Sunday shuttling between the two hospitals, said doctors told him that Byrd would make a full recovery.

Although Pasqualoni tried to switch the focus to Saturday's game here against Temple, it was a hard sell.

"I'm kind of shocked," said senior receiver Jeff Lowe, who grew up in Syracuse. "It's a big emotional blow. It's hard to understand how people could do something like that. We have to somehow come together."

Police said the fight involved 60 to 75 people, and it remained unclear what triggered the violence. Pasqualoni said he was aware of the bar's bad reputation and that certain places were off-limits to the team. He would not elaborate.

"We try to encourage the kids to always act appropriately," Pasqualoni said. "Behavior is very, very important. We're very proud of our life skills program and we work a great deal on it. I'm upset if they're around those places in the offseason."

"In this day and age, there's just a greater chance that crazy things will happen. But these are young adults. At some point, they have to take some responsibility for their actions."

The violence erupted less than 10 hours after Syracuse's 24-23 loss to Boston College, a big underdog, in the Carrier Dome.

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