The topic of hazing in the NFL has taken center stage following the recent reports out of Miami. Veteran guard Richie Incognito is being accused of bullying fellow lineman Jonathan Martin and sending him harassing messages containing racial slurs.
Incognito was suspended indefinitely by the Dolphins on Sunday night for conduct detrimental to the team. Martin is on a leave of absence.
Some Eagles players weighed in on the situation Tuesday while offering some insight into what it’s like being a neophyte in the NFL.
"I think two guys are at fault to me," said Cary Williams. "Obviously Incognito had some racial slurs and all this other stuff that was going on that I'm not too enthusiastic about myself. I think Martin definitely could have handled the situation better. You have a player development director there that is in place that is supposed to make you feel at home, make you feel like you can talk to him in confidentiality. There are so many outlets for a player to go and talk. I'm not in his shoes, I wasn't there so it's hard for me to determine whether he used the right techniques or the right approach in dealing with the situation, I just know that hazing is a part of the game and you have to have veteran leadership in there to make sure guys aren't going too far.
"I think the situation got out of hand, and I still feel like Martin, if all else fails, put up your dukes, man. I'm a 300-pound guy, he's a 300-pound guy, you're grown men, you know what I mean? If you feel like a guy is doing you like that -- I don't think any player in the NFL, any player in this locker room would disagree with having a little scrum if it got to that point."
Williams said that he was hazed while starting out in Tennessee but holds no animosity towards the players responsible for it. He liked it, even. But what he went through was a world apart from the alleged happenings in Miami. Maybe he would have to spend some time in a cold tub or might find Icy Hot in his helmet.
"It made it a little more exciting. Anticipating maybe some gel in your shoe or something like that. It was all in fun, that's really all it was. Nothing too over the top," he said. "I remember vividly I had my Jordans thrown in the cold tub. I found one of those shoes. I'm still looking for [the other]."
Williams says there was no hazing in Baltimore and there is none here in Philadelphia. The veteran defensive backs have Earl Wolff buy snacks for the meeting room, he said, but there's not much more to it.
Mychal Kendricks wishes all he had to buy was snacks when he was a rook. The linebacker told us Tuesday that he had to take the linebackers out to Del Frisco's one night and ended up spending "about half of what was being asked from Martin." One report says that Incognito had Martin pay $15,000 for a team vacation to Las Vegas. If that's what Kendricks is referencing, he spent about $7,500 that night.
"I had to talk to him and he was pretty cool. I never had any problem with him," he said. "We chalked it up and had a couple good conversations just about random subjects."
He knows Martin as well. They were both second-round picks last season and Martin went to Stanford, so of course Kendricks -- a Cal grad -- was familiar with the tackle. "He's real cool, real soft-spoken kind of guy. Never caused any problems. Just does his job," he said.
According to multiple Eagles players, Chip Kelly has never really addressed the issue of hazing with his team, but there is an understanding that it's just not something this organization does (outside of having the rookies pay for food, at least). Kendricks referenced the Riley Cooper incident as all the more reason why the locker room would avoid anything that crossed the line.
"The situation we had here already -- in that situation we came together as a team. We're stronger as a team," said Kendricks. "It really shows our character as men to step up and have a higher conscience to be able to think outside the box and say 'Man, look, we have this situation here, we can go this way or we can go that way.' And we chose the best way to go about it, and that just shows our character.
"That's one thing that you think about coming in as a rookie -- the rookie initiation process. And that's what it truly is and what it truly should be is an initiation process, not what you guys are hearing now which is more of a hazing, bullying type of thing. Every team has a different process, every team is a different group of guys, and it's all about the manner in which they go about the initiation because there is a fine line between initiation and hazing and bullying."