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Cam Cleeland, victim of hazing, aghast at Martin reaction

10254394 AP

It’s hard for Cam Cleeland to look at the news coming out of Miami over the last week.

Partly because of his own experience with hazing, which left him with one good eye.

The former tight end was brutalized during a ritual running of the gauntlet during his rookie training camp with the Saints. The kicks and punches were one thing, but one teammate (linebacker Andre Royal) hit him in the face with a sock full of coins, crushing his eye socket and nearly costing him his eye.

“Coach [Mike] Ditka gave me a speech as soon as it was done,” Cleeland told Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times. “He was like, ‘Oh, man, you should have just popped those guys in the mouth.’ I said, ‘Coach, there were 60 of them.'”

That memory piqued his interest in the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito situation, particularly since he was playing in St. Louis when the Rams drafted Incognito.

“I’m not afraid to say that he was an immature, unrealistic scumbag,” Cleeland said. “When it came down to it, he had no personality, he was a locker-room cancer, and he just wanted to fight everybody all the time. It was bizarre beyond belief.”

That’s why he, like many, can’t believe the questioning of Martin’s motives.

“Any NFL player that gives Martin a hard time — I don’t know him — but any guy who says, ‘This guy should have been a tough guy, should have stood up to him,’ it’s BS,” Cleeland said. “I don’t care if you’re a good guy or not, you don’t deserve that kind of treatment in any workplace. You’ve got to be tough. We’re all tough guys. But in the end, you’re still a human being.”

That’s something that Cleeland has every reason to question, after the way he was treated his rookie year.

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48 Responses to “Cam Cleeland, victim of hazing, aghast at Martin reaction”
  1. nedhigginssports says: Nov 8, 2013 8:37 AM

    Hit him in the eye with a sock full of coins ? WTF? That type of behavior would get anyone reading this several years in prison.

  2. ttommytom says: Nov 8, 2013 8:38 AM

    People across America are having a hard week because we are ALL in recall mode right now.

    I don’t care who you are or who you think you are, everyone has been bullied including the bullies.

    No single way to handle anything, especially the bully thing.

    I hope there’s a special place in hell for some of these people…

  3. doctorrustbelt says: Nov 8, 2013 8:41 AM

    Teams with richie incognito have averaged about 4 wins.

    richie incognito is locker room smallpox.

  4. defscottyb says: Nov 8, 2013 8:45 AM

    I have now changed my mind. At first I thought he should just toughen up and deal with it but now the more I read about this Incognito guy he sounds like a real scum bag. My thinking (being in a fraternity and hazed in college) was dude should just deal with it but now I think Incognito crossed the line. He brought race into it and even threatened his life. There is no place for that in the NFL period. Good for Martin standing up to this clown.

  5. TheRealLogicalVoice says: Nov 8, 2013 8:46 AM

    There is a difference between getting made fun of and being part of a prank where guys all stand up and leave you alone at a table and being beaten by a sock full of coins. This dude makes a clear case against hazing. Martin still looks like a soft guy who was raised with a silver spoon and taught to think the best way to handle your problems is to sue.

  6. wayne1693 says: Nov 8, 2013 8:49 AM

    Coach Mike Ditka should be ashamed that something like this happened under his watch!

  7. gottaplan says: Nov 8, 2013 8:50 AM

    CAM CLEELAND??? C’mon man..

  8. defscottyb says: Nov 8, 2013 8:51 AM

    Hazing is one thing and if done in brotherly way and has meaning, ie: to build toughness or earn the respect of his teammates. But, when you cross the line into just being downright mean, ruthless and degrading to someone than it becomes detrimental and just pointless.

  9. stevemo says: Nov 8, 2013 8:54 AM

    Sounds like you should be writing about the Cleeland situation and not the Martin one. I mean, we’ve got a guy that claims he got beat up by 60 people, and he had his eye socket crushed. And in the other corner, we got a guy playing a voicemail he himself was amused by as hateful, that walked out on his team because of a prank he pulled on someone just a week before, who now is bringing up a physical assault – that ended Incognito saved him from.

    Sounds like Cleeland actually has legitimate claims.

  10. getyourownname says: Nov 8, 2013 8:59 AM

    I remember this. Confirming that Ditka was always a meathead. Good player, but a meathead.

  11. aflightguy says: Nov 8, 2013 9:02 AM

    Hitting someone in the eye with a sock full of coins is well beyond hazing

  12. metintodd says: Nov 8, 2013 9:03 AM

    It seems clear to me that all the Dolphin players supporting Incognito over Martin need to get a thorough talking to and need to attend some sort of sensitivity training or counseling. If they think the locker room treatment/bullying of Martin by Incognito and others was acceptable, then there are very serious issues in the Dolphins locker room that need to be addressed.

    Threats, racist statements left on voice mails and the Dolphins players think this is okay? I guess if you’re not a Neanderthal meathead like Incognito, then you have no place in an NFL locker room, at least the Dolphin’s locker room. I think this is the reason why the Dolphins have sucked for so many years and why they’ll lose to the winless Bucs on Monday night. No leadership in that locker room. Just a bunch of bullies looking out for themselves.

  13. karla36 says: Nov 8, 2013 9:04 AM

    Disgusting…all of it!!

  14. peymax1693 says: Nov 8, 2013 9:04 AM

    Given the conflicting news reports, I don’t believe any of us can definitively say what transpired. However, what is clear to me is that Martin reached a psychological breaking point as a result of how he was treated. It seems that many people have concluded that because Martin did not suffer a physical injury as a result of the treatment he received, then the fact that he was unable to handle the psychological strain is evidence that he was simply too “soft.” Would those people feel the same way if Martin suffered a torn ACL as a result of how he was treated? If not, why would a psychological injury be different?

  15. pats3rings says: Nov 8, 2013 9:05 AM

    The NFL, and football in general at the high school, college, and pro level; has a serious culture problem that most people close to the sport are well aware of. There is a ludicrous train of thought in many football locker rooms across the country that in order to be effective and put it on the line for the team one has to be a little crazy. At all levels players like Incognito are deemed a necessary evil because people believe their nastiness on the field helps teams win. But this rational is ignorant at best as you do not need to have borderline sociopaths on your team to be successful. I think about guys like Shawn Thornton in the NHL; puts his long term health on the line for the Boston Bruins every night and there isn’t a tougher man in professional sports yet he is a normal well adjusted person off the ice.

  16. sbc85 says: Nov 8, 2013 9:09 AM

    stevemo says: Nov 8, 2013 8:54 AM

    Sounds like you should be writing about the Cleeland situation and not the Martin one. I mean, we’ve got a guy that claims he got beat up by 60 people, and he had his eye socket crushed. And in the other corner, we got a guy playing a voicemail he himself was amused by as hateful, that walked out on his team because of a prank he pulled on someone just a week before, who now is bringing up a physical assault – that ended Incognito saved him from.

    Sounds like Cleeland actually has legitimate claims.

    That was 15 years ago. If PFT and social media had existed back then, they would have had a field day with it.

  17. bobby2478 says: Nov 8, 2013 9:10 AM

    He got hit with a sock full of pennies? He should have had a reverse peephole.

  18. pats3rings says: Nov 8, 2013 9:11 AM

    I challenge anyone to provide one example where hazing in any capacity has helped build a strong locker room in any sport let alone a culture of winning. Fact is hazing builds resentment and is not acceptable at any level of athletics.

  19. paperlions says: Nov 8, 2013 9:20 AM

    Just remember, every time you hear an NFL player refer to hazing and things that “cross the line”, that apparently hitting someone in the face with a sock full of coins is not across that line.

  20. huhsj says: Nov 8, 2013 9:30 AM

    One of my issues with this coverage is whenever anyone says he should have stood up to Incognito it is implied that it means fight him. I think he could have told him that what he was doing was wrong and ask him like an adult to stop. If it continued then when he did was merited but it seems to me like Martin skipped some steps in trying to diffuse the situation. Of course we still only know a fraction of the details so for all I know martin may have talked to him.

  21. daddyb1gdrawz says: Nov 8, 2013 9:34 AM

    Are you serious? A sock of coins!?!?! Naw man, that is criminal. Oh, and by the way, this is the same coach in Mike Ditka who is on ESPN bashing Incognito for his acts. Really?!?!

  22. kepdogg23 says: Nov 8, 2013 9:39 AM

    That’s assault brother

  23. daaabears says: Nov 8, 2013 9:48 AM

    A gauntlet?
    With socks full of coins?
    Wow Ditka.
    Just wow.

  24. primenumber19 says: Nov 8, 2013 9:51 AM

    Apparently stevemo didn’t read the lawyers statement that said Martin was also attacked. And also, why does he believe the dolphins who say Martin was amused by the voicemail. don’t you think they have a reason to lie?

  25. paulsmith107 says: Nov 8, 2013 10:14 AM

    I have to say cleeland was much different case Martin wasn’t roughed up he was punked out. Poor baby got mad everyone got up from the table he sat at lol. Martin is a fool he never let it be known to anyone he was being harassed so in all actuality in the eyes of the law it’s not harassment. Any hr person knows that harassment in any form isn’t harassment until the party being harassed acknowledges and tells the person doing it to stop until then it’s viewed as you being okay with it

  26. dabears7190 says: Nov 8, 2013 10:16 AM

    Nothing says “welcome to our team” and “I will stand beside you through battle” more than a sock of coins to the eyeball.

    And to think some of these guys have college educations.

  27. mogogo1 says: Nov 8, 2013 10:19 AM

    Cleeland’s case was aggravated assault…not really even what you’d call hazing. Martin? I still can’t make sense of it. Parts sound terrible, but then there are tons of reports of him being friendly with Incognito and playing similar gags on other players.

    As horrible as it sounds, there’s no arguing with the evidence of a crushed eye socket. But Martin has lots of claims with very little proof and even the facts of the voicemail seem to have been spun by him. Maybe the entire team, coaching and training staff were out to get him. But I still keep wondering why not even one guy, even somebody who was cut or a friend he confided in, hasn’t backed his story.

  28. andymannfl says: Nov 8, 2013 10:26 AM

    Uh, ok, but I haven’t seen or heard anything suggesting Martin was truly beaten on. It will be fascinating to hear what his (former) teammates reveal Martin participated in. The most telling thing in this is that NOBODY on that team appears to be taking up for Martin. And this came on the heels of Martin losing his starting LT job the week prior. I guess that’s just a coincidence….spin away lawyer, spin away.

  29. scmems07 says: Nov 8, 2013 10:28 AM

    they still will be picking on miami though, even though this goes on in every locker room. martin will not be welcome in any locker room, he will be known as the tattle tale and be shunned.

  30. dontcensormebro says: Nov 8, 2013 10:36 AM

    Incognito says:

    “O’Doyle rules.”

  31. ravensgrl says: Nov 8, 2013 10:41 AM

    TheRealLogicalVoice says:
    Nov 8, 2013 8:46 AM
    There is a difference between getting made fun of and being part of a prank where guys all stand up and leave you alone at a table and being beaten by a sock full of coins. This dude makes a clear case against hazing. Martin still looks like a soft guy who was raised with a silver spoon and taught to think the best way to handle your problems is to sue.
    ____________

    Has Martin initiated a law suit? I haven’t heard anything about any legal action being taken by anyone in this situation.
    IMHO, Martin did handle his problem the best way… by turning and walking away.

  32. steelhammer92 says: Nov 8, 2013 10:45 AM

    Hitting someone in the face with a sock full of coins? They don’t even take it that far during gang initiations.

  33. laxcoach37 says: Nov 8, 2013 10:58 AM

    Rediculious! This stuff has been going on for decades at all levels of lockerooms. Martin is soft, possibly by mental illness, but either way lost his LT job and all of sudden gets coached by his rich, Harvard parents and team of Lawyers to Sue! This is a money grab because he knew he was going to benched on the RT side too. Now his Lawyer is demanding his release from the Dolphins (trade deadline over). Sad, because I am sure Incognito is a scumbag, as is half the NFL, but blowing this open for scandal based on personal and litigous extortion is sadder.

  34. jcav22 says: Nov 8, 2013 11:01 AM

    Gotta punch them in the mouth if they try to haze you. It will end really fast if you do.

  35. eaglesfanalways says: Nov 8, 2013 11:22 AM

    From what I have read about the treatment of Martin in Miami, I don’t think we should be characterizing it as hazing. It was clearly well beyond that…and anyone who believes that type of treatment will toughen up a soft player has a bit of a Neanderthal mentality, although I don’t mean any disrespect to Neanderthals.

  36. spfripp says: Nov 8, 2013 11:31 AM

    I want to make it clear, I am not defending Incognito. There are reports coming out in every direction to support each side and it is a sad thing that it has got to this point. I agree with Cam that no one should ever be treated that way but at some point you have to fight. I was 125lbs while playing high school football . I got bullied from everyone. Did I have to fight everyone? No. I fought hard and I fought dirty and I made sure to inflect pain. After that one fight no one on the team bothered me again. Unfortunately, there is a time where you have to physically defend yourself. If you think about it, it is how the US became independent. The British was the bullies and the people who fought bravely for our freedom stood up to the bully.

  37. geefan1 says: Nov 8, 2013 12:47 PM

    Too bad the NFL didn’t step in on this when cleeland got bashed. Maybe if they’d put a hazing ban in force back then they wounldnt have to deal all this nonsense now.

  38. thesportgenius says: Nov 8, 2013 12:50 PM

    Is it any wonder that the NO Bounty Hunters would beat the crap out of their own players with lead pipes and socks full of coins? Playing Dirty is what they do.

  39. fpstratton says: Nov 8, 2013 1:12 PM

    Sure, you have to defend yourself at some point, but that is no guarantee of a happy ending. This isn’t a Brady Bunch episode where mean old Buddy Hinton stops bullying after Peter lands a lucky punch on him. This is the real world. It’s usually not one person against one person. It’s 10 or 20 against one. Whether it be in a middle school or on a football team, the situation is the same. What is heartbreaking is that these are grown men on the same team who should be helping each other, and not tormenting each other. I don’t give a rip about sports culture or locker room “bonding.” We are talking about adults who should draw the line between harmless pranks or playful roughhousing and physical violence with the intent to injure or threating family members. That’s what should separate adults from kids and good people from bad people. Next case, please.

  40. uschawk says: Nov 8, 2013 1:49 PM

    Martin is soft, possibly by mental illness, but either way lost his LT job and all of sudden gets coached by his rich, Harvard parents and team of Lawyers to Sue!

    Ok so now having successful parents that went to Harvard is a bad thing now? When did being smart become such an awful thing in this country?

    Fact is you have no idea what happened in the locker room. The guy had no problems at Stanford and Harbaugh isn’t exactly a band leader. You should shut your mouth until you can bring facts to the argument. Not talk about how awful it is that he has successful parents that went to one of the best schools in the country. You clown.

    What is happening in this country when a known dirtbag like Incognito gets all this support and everyone dumps on a guy that is smart and educated. Reeks of jealousy to me.

  41. sb44champs says: Nov 8, 2013 2:30 PM

    “You’ve got to be tough. We’re all tough guys.”
    ====================
    And this quote is coming from Mr. Made out of Glass Cleeland… refused to get on the field if he had a broken fingernail..

  42. sb44champs says: Nov 8, 2013 2:33 PM

    thesportgenius says:
    Nov 8, 2013 12:50 PM
    Is it any wonder that the NO Bounty Hunters would beat the crap out of their own players with lead pipes and socks full of coins? Playing Dirty is what they do.
    ===========================
    Must be a Vikings fan, lol… QUIT CRYING, you guys turned the ball over like 7 times in the NFCChamp game, lol..

  43. twpguy1964 says: Nov 8, 2013 5:24 PM

    3 things about this story…

    1) Loadng a sock full of coins for a hazing incident, AND HITTING A PLAYER WITH IT, should have you thrown out of the league!

    2) Why are we just hearing about this incident from Cleeland, that’s assault with a deadly weapon!

    3) Ditka has some answering too do for not talking about this incident.

  44. rusty1325 says: Nov 8, 2013 5:39 PM

    Sounds to me that Cam is a moron.Funny how grown men act like children with the hazing and crap.I played for a single a baseball team and they pulled that crap.But all they had the rookies do was get on top of a table in your underwear and sing your schools fight song and making the rookies carry there bags.Simple stuff but still stupid.

  45. boydfink2005 says: Nov 8, 2013 11:20 PM

    As a Saints fan myself I have a few things to say about this story:

    1) Anyone who ties this incident to the “Bountygate” scandal is an idiot. This happened in 1998. Bountygate was allegedly between 09-11.
    2) Anyone who is questioning Cleeland’s manhood in this is ignorant. Yes, he was more delicate than a faberge egg, but you try taking a sock full of coins to the face and see how you react.
    3) I was 11 years old when this incident happened. I’m 27 now and remember it to this day. I thought it was disgusting, even as a pre-teen.
    4) Just another black eye on the horrendous Ditka era. A few guys got roughed up really badly too. Royal ended up being let go after that but the damage was done.
    5) Ditka can kiss my ass. He ruined my team. Even though we recovered, I swear to this day he didn’t care and wanted to make our team worse than it already was.

  46. candyneville says: Nov 8, 2013 11:51 PM

    Slugging it out at work is ridiculous. But, for those who suggest it (as if you have done it and were successful) may I point out that slugging a bully will probably not make him meekly quit. Especially if he has a whole team behind him. My take is that Incognito has groomed each rookie to bow to him and obey him. There has not been even a qualifying statement or teeny dissent from the teammates regarding him. I think he has a very trained and intimidated posse.

  47. gofinsgoheatfloria says: Nov 9, 2013 9:37 AM

    “The most telling thing in this is that NOBODY on that team appears to be taking up for Martin.”

    Telling? Not at all. Whatever led up to it, Martin violated the basic principle that what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room. Anyone in that locker room taking Martin’s side now will be seen by his teammtes as, at best, condoning that. That may be testimony to how morally bankrupt the locker-room culture is, but that’s another matter.

  48. spoiledbratswhosuck says: Nov 9, 2013 10:44 AM

    Washing cars growing up I came across an NFL stars vehicle and this player left 4 or 5 uncashed paychecks (each check was $27K) on the inside pocket of the drivers side door.

    Many players are

    bankrupt
    dysfunctional
    pyschotic
    criminal
    steroid
    PEDd
    drunk
    women abusers
    immature
    spoiled

    who would never be hired in the real world by anybody

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