By Tom Krasniqi
The NFL locker room is a sacred place. There are things happening in there that you won’t normally see anywhere else in life.
The subject of hazing and bullying is now a hot topic of conversation in light of what’s taking place down in Miami regarding tackle Jonathan Martin leaving the team after being constantly harassed by fellow teammate Richie Incognito. Allegations of racial taunts and threats of violence are disturbing and it’s sending shockwaves through the world of sports and beyond.
This week, the 4-4 Dolphins come to Raymond James Stadium to take on the 0-8 Buccaneers. All everyone will be talking about is the bullying incident. The Bucs are thankful that their struggles on and off the field will take a backseat.
Is there a line you don’t cross when it comes to hazing rookies and teasing your teammates? That was a hot topic of conversation in the Bucs locker room on Wednesday.
Bucs rookie defensive tackle Akeem Spence says hazing involved performing a talent show and picking up the tab for dinner. Spence says the tab was under $10,000 but there are a few rookies along the defensive line so they were able to split it. Unlike the situation in Miami, Bucs rookies claim they weren’t mistreated at all.
“I don’t know what’s going on down there but these guys treat me like I’m a vet. Treat all rookies like they’re [veterans],” rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks said.
Banks says the rookies were teased during the rookie talent show but it never went too far. Banks calls the locker room “one big family.”
When Banks was asked what he would do if he was stuck with a $30,000 dinner bill, he laughed.
“I wouldn’t pay for it, I would leave,” Banks joked. “I got a wife and a son at home. I can’t [tolerate] paying a $30,000 bill.”
Rookie quarterback Mike Glennon echoed the same sentiment-- Yes, there is rookie hazing but nothing that comes even close to bullying. Glennon says his hazing ritual amounted to running off to Chipotle to get burritos for the other quarterbacks and singing a song during the talent show.
So, what song did he sing? Glennon said he belted out “Build Me Up Buttercup” to the team. Wouldn’t you have loved to have heard that?
Linebacker Jonathan Casillas says he was surprised by the allegations down in Miami. Back in 2009, Casillas went through rookie hazing as a member of the Saints.
“I got a little bit of hazing but I wouldn’t call it bullying—more like rite of passage,” Casillas said. Casillas says singing songs and going on food runs were examples of things he did as a rookie but nothing more.
Head coach Greg Schiano was asked about his general thoughts on hazing and says he cautions his players about taking things too far.
“My policy is with everything – we talk about trust, belief and accountability and that kind of covers everything,” Schiano said on Wednesday. “Our guys, there’re some ritual things they do and my thing is ‘You don’t cross the line. That’s a man, you’re a man, make sure we do not cross the line.’ I think our guys have been good about that. If it’s skits or carrying pads or cleaning off trays, that’s ritual that guys go through.”
News & Notes:
- The Bucs conducted a walk-through practice on Wednesday as they have an extra day to prepare for the Dolphins game on Monday night. The team won’t submit a practice injury report until Thursday.
- FS Dashon Goldson (knee) was back practicing for the Bucs on Wednesday. He has missed the last two games.
- RG Davin Joseph (knee) was given a rest day. Ted Larsen saw snaps at right guard in his place.
- RB Doug Martin (shoulder) says he’s improving and increasing the range of motion in his injured shoulder. As for a possible return, Martin says they’re taking it “day-by-day, week-by-week.”
- WR Mike Williams had surgery to repair a torn hamstring. Schiano believes Williams will be 100% in time for OTAs.
- Pro Football Focus has rated Bucs LB LaVonte David as their top 4-3 OLB. David was named to the midseason All-Pro team by Pro Football Focus and Monday Morning Quarterback.
- The Bucs placed RB Jeff Demps (groin) on injured reserve. He’s done for the rest of the season. The team claimed safety Bradley McDougald off waivers from the Chiefs.
- On Monday night, the Bucs welcome in the Miami Dolphins to Raymond James Stadium. You can catch the game on 620 WDAE and 95.3FM with our coverage beginning at 3pm.
- For the latest Bucs news, keep it locked all day long on 620 WDAE and 95.3FM, your home of the Bucs and the best Bucs coverage. Don’t forget to check out the Bucs blog at 620wdae.com for the latest news and audio clips.