Unless you have been living under a rock during the duration of NFL training camps you are definitely aware of the pad snafu that occurred down in San Antonio, Texas between two of the Dallas Cowboys’ receivers, rookie Dez Bryant and vetern Roy Williams. If you HAVE been living under a rock, let me give you a brief recap of what the (shouldn’t have been) situation was. Bryant and Williams were expected to clash during training camp due to their projected fierce competition for playing time. However, the first “clash” came when Williams attempted to hand Bryant his pads to take into the lockeroom following practice. Bryant was having none of that. He let Roy know that he could carry his own pads. The story BLEW UP (even though it probably shouldn’t have). In response, the young Cowboy claimed “rookie hazing ignorance,” telling the media that he was not aware that rookies were expected to carry the vet’s pads and that he was brought here to play football, not to carry somebody else’s pads. Several days later Dez suffered a severe ankle sprain that put him in a walking boot and has forced him to miss the remainder of training camp and at least the first few pre-season games, if not all of them. Was it karma and the football gods striking down on Dez? Or, just a coincidental bout with bad luck? That’s your call.
Anyways, it’s like… come ON kid! (And yes, I can call him kid because technically I am older than him!) Nearly every rookie that passes through the professional “Not For Long” system has to endure some kind of hazing from the team’s veterans. Besides, IT’S NOT EVEN HAZING! Getting tied to a goalpost, getting dunked in the cold tub, or being “given” a solo to sing your school’s fight song in front of everyone is expected. Stunts like these that veterans pull on their rookies are (typically) not dangerous, they are not legitimately embarrassing to their reputation, and everyone ahead of you has gone through it. These pranks are more like a “right-of-passage” than they are an act of hazing. So, put up or shut up, ok? It’s a tradition that has been going on for years, and Dez, I hate to break it to ya… but you have to prove yourself before you can pull something like that. You gotta fit in before you can stand out.
I understand that you are a complete athletic freak of nature, you’re probably going to be a star, and well, like I said, you’re an athletic freak of nature. But, you are most likely going to take Roy’s place in the starting lineup, the least you could have done is humor the man and carry his pads in from practice for a day.
Fast forward to this past Thursday and the Cowboys pre-season game against the Oakland Raiders. Prior to the game Dez presented his fellow receivers with Air Jordan Olympic 7s and he had a special gift for his pal Roy Williams, a copy of Madden NFL ’11. When asked about the sudden showing of altruism towards his teammates Dez said that the gifts were simply out of “the kindness of his heart,” and that it didn’t have anything to do with the previous hazing incident. According to Dez, he is just trying to create good chemistry between himself and his new gridiron comrades. Hmmm… Yeah. I’ll let ya’ll mull that one over for yourself; but I’m pretty sure that, traditionally, rookie “hazing” is what starts to build team chemistry between rookies and vets not shoes and video games.