Eagles open up about hazing in NFL

Jonathan Martin, Richie Incognito, NFL
Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin left the team due to accusations of bullying and hazing by veteran teammates.

 

Birds discuss Martin-Incognito fiasco

 

Hazing is an unofficial rite of passage in the NFL.

Mostly, it is harmless. Veteran players sometimes require rookies to take the team out to an expensive dinner, or spray gel into their game cleats.

Eagles second-year linebacker Mychal Kendricks recalled taking teammates out to Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House in Center City. Some players made him order to-go steaks for their dogs and the bill totaled around $20,000.

“I know what I went through and next year they’ll do it, too,” Kendricks said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Kendricks was trying to shed some light on the rookie hazing experience as the mess in Miami continues to unfold. Dolphins second-year left tackle Jonathan Martin left the team last week after accusing teammates of bullying him. He claimed he was forced to pay a $30,000 dinner bill, while falling victim to racially-charged texts and voicemails from veteran guard Richie Incognito. The Dolphins have since suspended Incognito.

“I wasn’t in his shoes, I wasn’t there,” Eagles cornerback Cary Williams said. “I just know that hazing is part of the game. You have to have veteran leadership to tell guys when they’re going too far. I think the situation got out of hand, and I still feel like, [Jonathan] Martin … if all else fails, put up your dukes, man.”

Williams wasn’t criticizing Martin. His point was that if someone crosses the line in an NFL locker room, then defend yourself.

“I don’t think anyone in the NFL, anyone in this locker room, would disagree with a scrum, if it got to that point,” Williams said.

Kendricks, who knows Martin from competing against him in the Pac-12 during their college days, admitted there is a scale for hazing based on where you were chosen in the NFL draft. A second-round pick, like Martin and/or Kendricks, would have to pay more on a dinner than a fifth-round pick, like Eagles rookie safety Earl Wolff.

Wolff is in charge of supplying the defensive backfield with snacks during team meetings, according to Williams.

“I’ve never made someone feel low,” Williams said. “When they come in, even though they are rookies, they are still men. They worked their tails off to get to this point. You want a guy to feel at home, feel comfortable around the guys, feel that camaraderie, especially late in the season. You’re going to need that camaraderie when you face adversity.”

Williams joked that he loved being hazed when he played in Tennessee — even his head coach, Jeff Fisher, got in on the fun. Again, it should never be mean-spirited. The worst thing that ever happened to Williams was losing one-half of his Air Jordan sneakers.

“I had my Jordans thrown in the cold tub,” he said. “I only found one of those shoes. I’m still looking for the other one.”

Just keep it light and fun.

“I didn’t see it [hazing] as a bad thing, but I’m not sure if it’s a good thing,” Williams said. “I don’t care if you haze or you don’t haze, just don’t go over the line. When you start using racial slurs, start doing things like that, then that’s a situation that obviously needs addressing.”


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