Hakeem Nicks’s return wasn’t the only hot topic at practice Monday, as the Giants addressed the viral video of defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul seemingly hazing second-year cornerback Prince Amukamara.
The former first-round pick was seen slung over Pierre-Paul’s shoulder as the hulking end tossed the helpless Amukamara head first into a cold tub. The incident was recorded by punter Steve Weatherford and quickly posted on YouTube. The incident was a hot button issue because it seemingly violated the league-wide anti-hazing rule, breached the mantra of “what happens in the locker room, stays in the locker room” and also upset a coach in Tom Coughlin who loathes discussing any non-football related topics.
Coughlin is close to the vest and sounded quite perturbed recounting the incident.
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Coughlin said he “addressed strongly” to the team about the controversy that was brought upon the staid franchise. He also denounced the “inappropriate” aspects of the film, which many believe was the strong language and epithets being used by the players.
“Nothing that occurs within this family or within this group should be a part of the social media aspect,” Coughlin said.
For his part, Weatherford was apologetic about filming and leaking the video — despite the website taking it down because YouTube has a policy about publishing hazing or anything of that sort. The punter posted on his Twitter page his regret and added his actions were “disappointing because I pride myself on being a good example, and that was a lack in judgment.”
When asked if Pierre-Paul’s actions were hazing or something personal between him and Amukamara, Weatherford scoffed at the latter and said “everybody in this locker room loves each other. We all get along great. It’s a very close-knit team, tons of synergy on this team. … It was simply horsing around [even though] it wasn’t perceived that way, and I apologize for that.”
As for Pierre-Paul, he wasn’t initially so gracious or remorseful.
“Not at all,” Pierre-Paul shrugged when asked if he was embarrassed by it all. “It was something that happens in here. It’s supposed to stay in here. Unfortunately it got leaked out. I’m not embarrassed. Me and Prince know we’re all family in this locker room and it’s something that leaked out.”
Pierre-Paul continued that it wasn’t anything personal between himself and Amukamara, even though he admitted there was a backdrop to the incident.
“Me and Prince, we’re cool. It’s something the team knows about [but] I’m not going to put it out there. We were just having fun and that’s basically it,” Pierre-Paul said. “All the guys around here are cool. We’re all like families to each other. It’s just something that we were just having fun with and the media took it out of proportion.”
He did finally acknowledge the danger he could’ve put Amukamara in.
“It looked like it was a big slam, but it really wasn’t. I softened it up. But it just looks [that way because] I’m a bigger guy,” he said. “For us guys, it was funny. To the media and to all the fans, they didn’t find it funny. I apologize to the fans and my fans and that’s basically it. It was a joke that gone bad. … I would never try to hurt one of my teammates. We need them all.”
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.