The subject of hazing (or in this case bullying) players in locker rooms has come front and center this week due to the interactions between Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin of the Miami Dolphins.
Martin left the team while Incognito was suspended by the Dolphins.
Hazing obviously isn’t anything new in the NFL. It’s not unusual from rookies or young players to have to carry the pads and helmets of veterans in from practice or make food runs for their teammates. However, the incidents between Incognito and Martin have clearly crossed a line of general ribbing of a teammate to abject disrespect and belittling.
While the story with the Dolphins continues to evolve, the San Francisco 49ers don’t have to deal with such issues.
49ers safety Donte Whitner joined Alex Marvez and Bill Polian on Sirius XM NFL Radio and said there isn’t any disconnect between teammates in San Francisco.
“We don’t have those types of issues,” Whitner said. “I can honestly say this is one of the closest football teams, one of the closest groups of men I’ve ever been around. We play and we have fun but we know not to cross certain boundaries. We know not to cross respect boundaries and sexuality boundaries and disrespect individuals. So we understand that.”
Whitner said head coach Jim Harbaugh set down an edict that the team wouldn’t even partake in the normal hazing rituals found in NFL locker rooms.
“It came from coach Harbaugh saying from day one we’re not going to do it,” Whitner said. “The players, we really don’t care to do it. We care more so about incorporating a rookie into our system to help us win football games and everything else that really goes on we don’t care for.”
Whitner said he feels the situation in Miami clearly crossed a line and it’s something he believes doesn’t have a place in the NFL.
“As far as other teams, I understand that people do hazing and they do stuff like that and that goes on in locker rooms but if what was going on and said was happening, that’s totally wrong,” Whitner said. “We understand there’s nothing we can do about that but around the league, things like that go on on the teams. I don’t feel like it’s right. Nobody in our locker room feels like it’s right and we feel like something should be done about it.”