Are Bullying and Hazing Accepted in the NFL?

Published on 06-Nov-2013 by Stacey Mickles
Football - NFL / NFL Daily Opinion

Are Bullying and Hazing Accepted in the NFL?

Listening to the comments over the last few days from current and past NFL players, I've come to the conclusion that the behavior by Richie Incognito is accepted by most of his peers.

They seem to see it as a right of passage that rookies are hazed and bullied by the veterans, maybe not to the extent that Incognito has harassed Jonathan Martin, but according to former players this behavior is commonplace.

And what's truly disturbing is the Dolphins' coaches appear to think this stuff is old school. If Incognito was actually following their orders, more NFL careers than his are going to be cut short.

Before Dean Cain became an actor, he played in the NFL and recalled similar incidents. 

Cain said he was told by teammates that he could only shower with the white players. Huh? First of all, technically, Cain is not a white guy, and secondly, why do this? 

Former Oakland Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon recalls hazing that took place with the Raiders.

"I have absolutely no tolerance for this type of behavior. I've seen firsthand how this can divide and really destroy a locker room, a team, and quite frankly, an entire organization," Gannon said. "I went to an organization in Oakland, which quite frankly, made me sick. This culture and environment existed out there with older players bullying younger players. At one point, I remember coming into the locker room my very first year there, and I saw a group of defensive linemen had our young tight end tied up with tape. They were punching him. They were putting icy-hot and baby powder with water on this guy. They were trying to demoralize the player."

But then, there's the other side of this story, where many NFL players don't have a problem with what Incognito has done and think Martin should toughen up. Former and current teammates even defended him.

“Richie was a down-to-earth guy, " said former Dolphins linebacker Karlos Dansby. "I hate all this came out about him. It's really attacking his character. I hope Martin doesn't have any backlash from this from the rest of his teammates.”

"I know both [Martin and Incognito] personally. I like both of them. I love Richie. I think he's a great guy. I don't think he was out of hand. I have a lot of respect for Richie. I wish he was here, " said Dolphins wideout Mike Wallace. 

Maybe the problem, as a number of NFL experts are pointing out, is a lack of leadership on the team. There doesn't seem to be that one guy -- like a Dan Marino -- on the team anymore to tell Incognito enough is enough. 

Do you think a Peyton Manning or Tom Brady would allow this on his team? Probably not. In fact, Incognito wouldn't be allowed to ever be picked up by those teams because it's obvious he's carrying too much baggage. 

If you have to use intimidation and fear to get your teammates in order, then more than likely -- as the Miami Dolphins show -- you aren't a very good team.

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