Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito’s alleged treatment of teammate Jonathan Martin has sparked a lot of debate over the type of behavior that should be acceptable within a locker room.
Perhaps we should look at what the alleged hazing has done for the Dolphins on the field.
Since Incognito joined the Dolphins in 2010, the team has a 24-32 record. The franchise's last playoff appearance was during the 2008 season. They are just 4-4 this season, with one win in their last five games. If hazing has helped the Dolphins' chemistry, it's not showing in their record.
Incognito is accused of bullying Martin, but Miami’s offensive line has been harassed by opposing teams throughout this season. The Dolphins have allowed a league-high 35 sacks this season. Rookie-funded dinners and trips to Vegas have not helped that unit, for sure.
How does alleged hazing/bullying/harassment/rite of passage or whatever you want to call it help a team improve? It appears the better teams around the NFL have no use for it.
Baltimore is fresh off a Super Bowl win, but coach John Harbaugh said there is no place for hazing on his team.
"In 2008, that was one of the first things that we did. We're not a hazing team. That's not what we're about," Harbaugh told Josh Land of MASNsports.com. "Anybody that comes into our locker room is a teammate. You don't have to earn your stripes that way. There are some fun things guys do. Guys have to buy chicken for the road trips, so Popeyes gets a shout-out on that and there's a lot of Popeyes, a lot of business being done, let me tell you. But our guys do a great job of that and I think we emphasize, we talk about it at the end of the day because it came up.
"But when you can help somebody out and you see somebody alone at a table and they're by themselves, go sit down and have lunch with them, ask somebody how they're doing. We also instituted in 2008 our mentoring program. So every rookie is assigned an older mentor, and I think our guys do a great job with that. Harry Swayne does a tremendous job of organizing that and training the mentors, and that's been a plus for us. So we're going to continue to try and do that. Nothing's perfect, but it's important.”
Former Ravens linebacker Bart Scott was more blunt when asked how he would react to Incognito’s alleged actions if they were teammates.
"He would have got a swift kick in the butt and would have been thrown out the door," Scott said on CBS Radio’s MoJo Show (c/o BaltimoreRavens.com). "It’s no way we would’ve allowed him to come in here.
“If he would’ve came in, we would have snatched the Ravens patch off his chest, kicked him in his butt and told him he wasn’t welcome here. And let everybody know that he wasn’t welcome here.”
According to NJ.com reporter Jordan Raanan, Giants coach Tom Coughlin called a team meeting after members of his squad dumped then-rookie cornerback Prince Amukamara into a cold tub last year. Coughlin’s team landed in the national spotlight for that prank, and the coach rebuked his players for joking/hazing.
By the way, Coughlin has two Super Bowl rings.
“There was always a no hazing rule. Horsing around and playing, that’s fine,” Giants offensive tackle Will Beatty told NJ.com. “You still have the rookies singing and stuff like that. Or going out and having a party. That is not hazing. It’s every year, those are the young guys, that is what they’re doing. It’s not whoever you are we’re picking on a person. That is the thing, older guys do things too. You don’t call that hazing.
“But to down somebody or make them feel worse, that would never fly. The players themselves would never let you pick on another player.”
The Indianapolis Colts, a playoff team in 2012 and the AFC South leaders so far this season, have a no-hazing policy that dates back to when Tony Dungy took over in 2002.
“Nothing to the extreme where you have a person pulling a no-show, messing with their confidence or anything of that nature,” Colts linebacker Erik Walden told IndyStar.com reporter Stephen Holder. “I don’t really (believe) in that.
“(We have) a no-nonsense policy. We don’t feel like we have to do that to your younger players to get a point across.”
Maybe this explains why good teams do not tolerate hazing.
They are too busy winning.
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