The latest ugly hazing incident involving Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin has shed light on a way of life in the NFL that has to stop. Hazing in all sports, but especially football, is a practice that has gone way too far. What was once a simple, lighthearted way to welcome new players onto a team has become a way for mean-spirited people to enact punishment on those who have done nothing to deserve their torments.
The sad reality is that there are those among us who take a sick pleasure in forcing their dominance on others. In almost all other areas of our society we have taken steps to stop this kind of behavior. Sports, as it all too often does, finds itself far behind the curve.
The macho-man culture of football that has fostered these kinds of hazing rituals has gone on for too long. Just because someone is a rookie doesn’t mean that they should be forced to be subservient to their veteran teammates. The idea that just because the veterans had to suffer when they were rookies, so the rookies should have to now is a pathetic justification for the continuation of a circle of unhealthy behavior.
I remember when Dez Bryant was a rookie and much was made of the fact that he refused to perform the typical tasks that were asked of rookies. I thought at the same time that I would refuse too. Just because I was a rookie didn’t mean that I had to buy you dinner, carry your pads or bring you coffee. If a team thinks highly enough of a player to bring him into camp then he is just as important as all the veteran players on the team.
The news that is coming out about Incognito and Martin saddens me. You would think that by now that kind of behavior would have been eradicated from the modern professional football locker room. It is now up to the players and the coaches of all teams to make it known that this kind of thing can never happen again.