Eagles center Jason Kelce told PhillyMag.com that older members of the offensive line told the 24-year-old Kelce that they wouldn’t post something like that for all the world to see.
“No, I would not have,” Kelce said. “And that’s something we’ve already talked to Lane about. You generally don’t want to tweet that out, but bottom line, we’re not trying to hide anything either. He tweeted it out. It is what it is. There’s nothing that we’re trying to hide here.”
Bragging about spending $17,747 on one dinner is not a good look on Twitter, and it’s also not a wise financial decision, even for a multimillionaire like Johnson. NFL players often forget that just because they make millions in their 20s, that doesn’t mean they’re going to be rich forever: That money will have to last them a lifetime, and professional athletes are just about the only professionals in America who make more money in their 20s than they make for the rest of their lives. The NFL has a real problem with retired players going broke, and making a habit of spending a fortune on nights out at age 24 is a good way to go broke by age 44.
Still, in fairness to Johnson, it should be pointed out that this was not the same kind of “rookie dinner” tab that Cowboys veterans stuck Dez Bryant with in 2010. Johnson, the Eagles’ first-round pick last year, said that he paid for a large portion of the bill because he didn’t fulfill his “rookie dinner” tradition last year, and that older veterans picked up some of the tab as well.
“It was kind of my idea, keep the tradition going,” Johnson said. “I didn’t pay the whole bill. I got help from Todd [Herremans] and Evan [Mathis], so just something I did for them. Ain’t no big deal to me. I probably should have gave it some clarity. When I tweeted it out, all I said was ‘rookie dinner.’ And they think I got pressured into doing it – this, that and the other. But that’s alright.”
Kelce was drafted by the Eagles in 2011, two years before Johnson, and he said rookies picking up the check for a big dinner with veterans is an annual tradition. However, Kelce realizes that the situation in Miami last year, when Jonathan Martin left the team and Richie Incognito was suspended over hazing allegations that included pressuring Martin to pay for a vacation, it’s a sensitive subject.
“It’s something that usually you take care of in-season. It’s kind of like the rookie’s first outing with the whole team. He’s kind of made the team. It’s usually right after that 53-man roster has been made. And then it’s kind of like your first bonding experience as a group. Usually it turns out great, but since that Miami scandal, everybody’s on high alert with that stuff,” Kelce said.
The mess in Miami should have ended rookie hazing entirely. But it does still exist in the NFL, even if the players at that Philadelphia “rookie dinner” don’t think it was a big deal.