By Cedric Williams
Sometimes, first-year players are asked to carry veterans’ pads to and from the locker room for them. Sometimes those same young guys are asked to buy breakfast for older players and coaches on days when the team has early morning meetings scheduled.
And sometimes those rookies are asked to sing their college fight songs, or tell a joke, or provide some other potentially embarrassing entertainment for their veteran teammates.
But with allegations of misconduct and harassment coming out against Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito by teammate and fellow lineman Jonathan Martin, St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher told a throng of media during his regular Monday press conference that his club works hard to set parameters for respect in the locker room and throughout the team dynamic.
“First off, I can’t comment on their locker room, obviously,” Fisher said. “But I can say that we’ve established (something positive) here. Yeah, guys will ask rookies to carry their helmets in from practice, but we make it clear to the rookies and veterans that this is a business environment and the rookies are here to help us win and everyone here is treated with respect.”
The allegations coming out in Miami have shocked the pro football world, as Martin has accused Incognito of taking the rookie hazing tradition to new heights by harassing him with constant pranks, insults, and abusive language for most of the last two seasons.
The situation between the two came to light after a lunchroom prank alledgedly initiated by Incognito, infuriated Martin so much that the second-year pro out of Stanford stormed out of the team facility in South Florida last week, and hasn’t returned.
Incognito has been suspended indefinitely while the team investigates the allegations, leaving the rest of the pro football world to ponder the consequences and ramifications of the long-held NFL tradition of making rookies prove how strong-willed and tough-minded they are through acts of “rookie hazing”.
“It’s OK to have fun. You guys witnessed it first hand with the pie thing with ‘Cort’ (Cortland Finnegan) and Chris Long,” Fisher said. “It’s OK to have fun, but it’s my job to make sure you keep a lid on things… I think it’s important to to come in here and look forward to coming to work and have fun. But, respect factors into the things we preach here.”
For more Rams news and updates, visit Rams Central.
Cedric Williams, a lifelong St. Louisan and proud UMSL alum, has been a freelance reporter/photographer covering St. Louis area sports for nearly two decades. Most recently, he has been working as a credentialed beat writer covering the Rams and small-school college sports for Examiner.com and other outlets from around the area. Please share any comments, questions, or feedback with Cedric at firstname.lastname@example.org. His work can be found on Examiner.com.