It’s a little disappointing to learn that a player that I have a ton of respect for as a player, Jason Pierre-Paul, is a little bit of an idiot. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk posted a video taken by punter Steve Weatherford on Twitter of Jason Pierre-Paul dumping his teammate, Prince Amukamara into a cold tub. Prince does not look happy about it:
Not to sound like a prude here, but I think there’s a time and place for this kind of stuff. It’s called adolescence. There’s a book called “Finding the Winning Edge” written by Bill Walsh. It may be the best football book ever written. It’s so good in fact, that it’s extremely difficult to find for less than $100. It details every facet of the job of an NFL head coach / GM, to the most minor details. One of those minor details that Walsh dedicates an entire page to is hazing. The section doesn’t perfectly match up with the relationship here between JPP and Prince (since Prince isn’t a rookie and JPP is a star player), but is very interesting nevertheless. I have no idea what Tom Coughlin’s stance is on hazing, but it would be a complete surprise to me if he allows it.
The entire passage after the jump…
The proper approach to establishing a policy on hazing rookies in training camp is very straightforward – simply follow the advice of the legendary Paul Brown: “There should be none of it.” Rightfully so, Brown believed that any form of hazing unduly compromises a team’s learning process.
In reality, rookies have a lot to do in training camp, including learning a new system and adjusting to a totally new environment (i.e., primarily the huge difference in the size, ability and experience between pro-level players and college-level players). If they’re going to succeed (i.e., make the active team roster), those rookies have to give every bit of their attention to handling the relatively traumatic transition.
Any form of hazing that disrupts the ability of these rookies to focus on the tasks at hand can be counterproductive, not only themselves, but also to the team as well. Depending on the circumstances, such hazing can have more of a negative impact on some players than others.
For example, hazing will typically not prevent a high draft choice from making the team. Having invested a lot in this type of player (i.e., money, high draft choice, etc.), a team is usually quite reluctant to give up on the player by releasing him.
The situation is quite different, however, for those middle-round draft choices, undrafted signees, free agent pickups, and those perennial training camp players who try out for the team despite having no real chance of making the roster. These are athletes who are literally fighting for their professional lives to prove that they belong in the NFL. Hazing diminishes their chances.
Young players have far more to worry about than getting up and singing their alma mater in front of the team before dinner. Depending upon the format and the circumstances, hazing can be embarrassing, humiliating and cruel.
Unfortunately, as thoughtless as hazing may be, some veterans persist in such deplorable behavior. When given an opportunity to demean vulnerable, young rookies, those veterans who are less intelligent, who have dysfunctional sense of reasoning, or who may view hazing as a meaning for wrecking competition (for jobs) that the rookies may provide will undoubtedly surface.
Hoping to be accepted by the veterans, most of the rookies will endure these taunts, as humiliating as the insulting behavior may be. Eventually, however, some rookies will only take so much and will turn on their predators.
The key point to remember is that hazing is dehumanizing. It does nothing to bond athletes to each other. Bonding between players occurs on the field when the veterans learn to trust and respect the abilities and commitment of the rookies.
An excellent example of the negative aspects of hazing occured recently in an NFL training camp. A first-year player actually left the team he was trying out for rather than have his head shaved.