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.