Yesterday in his weekly appearance on WGR 550's Mike Schopp and The Bulldog, Buffalo Bills center Eric Wood discussed former teammate Richie Incognito and rookie hazing in general. Wood's personal anecdotes were lighthearted and funny, but he was more serious when discussing the situation in Miami.
"I've heard people say there is no place in the game for rookie nights or hazing and I think there is some," said Wood when asked when a veteran should intervene.
"He crossed the line with some of the language that he used," said Wood of Incognito specifically. "I know Richie well. We have the same agent and he was here in 2009 when I broke my leg. I know Richie, he's kind of a cross-the-line humor type of guy. I think he probably had a misjudgment here, especially with the voicemail he left. That's the only evidence really that you can go by."
Wood went on to say that if a player isn't taking it well, as a veteran you need to "pull the reigns" as they did with one player this year. The captain relayed the story of rookie cornerback Kip Edwards, who was taped to the goal posts after one practice at training camp this year when veterans learned he had a scalp problem. Wood didn't mention Edwards' name, but he was the only rookie not to receive the shearing to my recollection. Edwards was subjected to a different form of hazing, as you can see at the two-minute mark of this YouTube video:
"We gave haircuts this year and one guy had eczema on his head or some rashes, and we pulled the brakes on it," said Wood. (You can see Kendall Gaskins' haircut below.) "That guy doesn't want to get his hair cut. He's got long hair 'cause he's covering up some redness on his head that the football helmet caused. I feel like, we've had pretty mature team leaders. At a time like that when you really could have exposed the kid - expose the man - and kind of put him in a vulnerable position you kind of pull the brakes."
RB @KGpolo_5's haircut = rookie life in the @nfl pic.twitter.com/FZzChYHcqA— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) August 9, 2013
"We do rookie nights and we do big, expensive dinners," said Wood of the Bills' locker room. "Those are saved for big-time players."
He then turned his attention to his personal story. Why anyone would give Wood's curly blonde locks a snip is beyond me, but the veteran offensive linemen at the time (2009) had other plans for the first round pick.
"We had two rookie nights - one for me and one for Andy Levitre, who was a second rounder - where I was invited to a 'free dinner'," Wood explained. "I thought a Rochester restaurant owner was taking care of us, but it was free because I was paying for it. I got my share of teasing - rookie hazing - but now I enjoy rookie nights. Those guys knew I was going to be in the NFL for a long time as a first-round pick, and they knew I was going to get to enjoy my fair share of 'free meals'."
"This was the O-line, so we went to P.F. Changs," Wood continued. "I think it was a couple thousand dollars. I don't remember a lot from it, but I do distinctly remember - you know when they bring out the dessert trays and they show you everything that they have? Langston Walker said, 'Well, that looks good. Just bring out four of those.' Every dessert. That's the only thing I really remember."
Incognito was suspended by Dolphins coach Joe Philbin on Monday, the same day a text message to teammate Jonathan Martin surfaced with Incognito hurling racial slurs and other insults at the second-year player. Get full coverage at our Miami Dolphins blog, ThePhinsider.com.