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Rookies routinely get stuck with big bills

Leaf Getty Images

While it’s apparent that whatever happened to Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin likely went beyond normal rookie hazing, the notion that veterans force rookies taken in the higher rounds of the draft to finance expensive trips or dinners is hardly unprecedented.

Routinely, players taken in round one or two of the draft are expected to foot the bill for a trip or a expensive meal.  It’s therefore impossible to assess whether the report that other Dolphins have been forced to pay for expensive things at the behest of veterans reflects an isolated situation or something that is part of the broader NFL culture.

Regardless of the extent to which it happens elsewhere, it definitely happens.  Former Chargers quarterback Ryan Leaf once tried to resist paying for a team dinner.  As legend has it, linebacker Junior Seau eventually got Leaf’s credit card and charged a dinner for everyone on the team except Leaf.

Leaf complained, and Seau responding by flattening Leaf in practice.

“The reason behind the hit was that a bunch of veterans had pulled a prank,” former Chargers exec Billy Devaney told Sports Illustrated last year.  “They’d gone out to dinner and charged it to Ryan’s credit card.  They did stuff like that to first-round picks every year. It might have been a couple thousand dollars, and Ryan went crying to [General Manager Bobby Beathard], saying, ‘This isn’t right. I’m not paying it.’ When the guys found out Ryan had gone to management, they were so pissed. Normally [on an interception in practice] you stop and say no big deal. Well, Junior wanted to send a message. He hunted Leaf down and decleated him. The whole defense came over and high-fived him right away.”

That’s exactly why players don’t complain about stuff like this, and why Martin has been reluctant to complain about whatever his teammates were doing to him that prompted him to leave the team last week.

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23 Responses to “Rookies routinely get stuck with big bills”
  1. Dolphins Nation says: Nov 3, 2013 2:00 PM

    When the media starts doubling down on a story; it means they don’t know whats really happened on.

  2. nagaswan says: Nov 3, 2013 2:02 PM

    Junior Seau is not a model of rational thought. This may be a better argument that the practice should have been stopped a long time ago. RIP.

  3. thestrategyexpert says: Nov 3, 2013 2:07 PM

    Well players will always be in fear unless the teams they play for can give them a process and way that they can feel comfortable and safe in dealing with or addressing matters like this. Either a team is completely oblivious as to the social culture going on with the team, or they are trying to influence it into being a healthier environment.

    These teams are exactly what these teams want to be and every team gets to decide what their team is going to stand for.

  4. lacesout87 says: Nov 3, 2013 2:08 PM

    You stay classy San Diego

  5. mnwildfan15 says: Nov 3, 2013 2:08 PM

    So is that why Leaf was so bad he was playing with a permanent concussion?

  6. don2074978 says: Nov 3, 2013 2:08 PM

    Being a high round pick and paying for a team dinner is something your agent should be preparing you for. Although the Rookie symposium is also a place it should get touched on too. Maybe next year

  7. primenumber19 says: Nov 3, 2013 2:08 PM

    More proof that leafs downward spiral was contributed to by the way the chargers handled him. Legend has it Peyton liked leaf, and that is why eli dug in so hard to go there.

  8. niners13 says: Nov 3, 2013 2:09 PM

    This sort of made sense when top 1st round picks were making tens of millions guaranteed, but now with the draft cap only the top picks are making enough to cover those huge bills. And while Leaf was a dick, and yes he probably should’ve paid for the original dinner in the first place, the fact that you’d steal someone’s credit card is b.s. and represents a big violation of trust, especially I’m sure for such a mental midget as Leaf, even if it was only a couple thousand bucks. Nice team leadership Seau.

  9. randomguy9999 says: Nov 3, 2013 2:10 PM

    any way you cut it…. these guys are supposed to be professionals cultivating the team , not high school biatch bullies charging $5,000 dinners to guys….

    with them having lost 4 in a row at the time and the O line literally the worst in the NFL at protection, they shouldn’t be alienating one of their guys with a joke that can easily be misinterpreted…

    they are last in the NFL in sacks allowed (bottom 5 for 3 seasons running) and now they broke the line with their immaturity, time to hit the road

  10. joetoronto says: Nov 3, 2013 2:23 PM

    Seau was always a turd, but never more than when he checked out and left his mom and kids high and dry.

  11. jimbo75025 says: Nov 3, 2013 2:27 PM

    Sorry guys, but I have not bought into the poor Martin narrative just yet.

    It is quite common for team groups to organize outings-if the O lineman organized a trip to Vegas as a group, maybe just maybe a set cost was agreed to and intended to be split. If Martin chose not to go, up to him but no issues if the others expected him to pay his share. No different really than if 8 friends agree to go to a concert, tickets are bought, and then 1 guy changes his mind at the last minute-should the guy not still be expected to pay fpr his ticket?

    I have strong belief that there is more to this story than has come out s far.

  12. doctorrustbelt says: Nov 3, 2013 2:29 PM

    BEFORE CBA – Sam Bradford = $50,000,000 guaranteed

    AFTER CBA – Cam Newton = $10,000,000

    The CBA lowered rookie salaries.

    So…. the era of high paid rookies covering the bills is over (at that pre-CBA level).

  13. ecupatsfan12 says: Nov 3, 2013 2:30 PM

    Its the least Martin could do to tell Icognito, taking a lesson from Ryan Leaf “Don’t talk to me alright!!! Knock it off!”. But in all seriousness I feel for Martin because Icognito has been in trouble since he was a rookie and he seems like a bad dude. Martin/ or another vet needs to settle the score with him- even if he loses it makes Richie the bad guy and the Dolphins will be forced to get rid of him. People will back him up and gain respect for him. Just like hitting the bully in 9th grade- they will stop once they know they are in trouble. One time when I was bullied in middle school I told my bully that -except with a lot of cuss words in class. The teacher stood behind me and all the kids were telling me way to go and proud of me for standing up to myself. The kid never gave me a hard time in high school and even apologized for it years later- he was so embarrassed by being called out. Its like Tebow- one of my buddies at college interned with the Jets last year- he got ripped on by EVERYONE (Sanchez included) because they thought he was a media diva and they didn’t like his holier than thou attitude. Tebow would have gained a lot of respect if he just popped Sanchez in the jaw- may have cost him a few points getting into heaven. Joking aside- there are times when you need to stand up for yourself. This is one of them

  14. bigjd says: Nov 3, 2013 2:36 PM

    Stealing someone’s credit card is a criminal offense. When hazing turns into committing crimes something’s wrong.

  15. tfaulk says: Nov 3, 2013 2:36 PM

    I wasn’t satisfied with 5 posts in 5 hours that didn’t added anything to the story (beyond rumor, innuendo, and speculation). I’m so glad you found time on Saturday to write a 6th story on the same topic. Thank you.

  16. vbe2 says: Nov 3, 2013 2:44 PM

    If he was forced to pay, against his will, could that fall under extortion?

  17. doctorrustbelt says: Nov 3, 2013 2:50 PM

    Shouldn’t incognito spend less time bulyying co-workers and more time assaulting club bouncers?!?

    SEE: incognito/august 2013

  18. pastabelly says: Nov 3, 2013 2:55 PM

    This goes beyond rookie hazing since Martin was in his second year when Incognito extorted $15,000 for a summer Vegas trip.

  19. uwsptke says: Nov 3, 2013 3:31 PM

    All teams do this, but most do it as a prank, often presenting the mark with a fake receipt. As in, “ha, ha, we got you good, rook! We’re all splitting the bill.”

  20. Ferdinand says: Nov 3, 2013 4:25 PM

    That’s disgusting. And the fact that management seems to think it is all okay and normal is most disgusting of all.

  21. pftstory says: Nov 3, 2013 5:41 PM

    I guess we all know it, and only face it when stories like these appear.
    A large number of the guys we watch on Sunday’s are not decent human beings.
    They are selfish, immoral, mean, and often ignorant by choice or simply stupid.

    But football is a great game.

  22. mx429 says: Nov 3, 2013 6:31 PM

    And now Seau is footing the bill for a bunch of maggots, good riddance. Incognito is and has always been a trashy human being, it’s only because of football that scum like that is allowed to walk the streets.

  23. jlinatl says: Nov 3, 2013 7:52 PM

    First… rookies made much more then at the top of the draft.

    Second… Big difference between $5k and $30k.

    Third… I’m guessing Leaf gave the vets several reasons to want to decleat him.

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