Time for Franciscan haircuts, shoulder-pad etiquette

Broncos QB Tim Tebow models his new haircut during training camp. (Eric Lars Bakke / DenverBroncos.com)

It’s that special time of year when NFL players — some sequestered in remote, spartan college dormitories and hemmed in by curfew — must turn to each other for entertainment, typically at the expense of the team’s rookies.

In short, it’s hazing season in the National Football League.

Training-camp antics reached a fever pitch Saturday when the Broncos unleashed, on their unsuspecting fanbase, a collection of rookie haircuts awkward enough to make Boy George and the entire 1980s blush.

Nobody’s chop was more awe-inducing than QB Tim Tebow‘s Franciscan friar look. Cell-phone cameras, iPhones, and Twitter accounts lit up to capture Tebow’s epic, man-made bald spot.

Tebow took it in stride, tossing a touchdown pass to fellow rookie Demaryius Thomas during a live team drill. He then rushed for a second score. At that point, it wouldn’t have mattered if Tebow wore pigtails.

“I loved being out there,” he told The Denver Post.

When it comes to rookie hazing, veterans — who went through the same hell — are asking the young guys to pay their dues.

Dolphins NT Travis Ivey hauls teammates' gear. (Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press)

Dolphins rookie NT Travis Ivey gets the drill. He left one practice with three sets of shoulder pads resting on his shoulders, his head peeking out the top as he waddles off field. The 325-pounder can handle the weight, but it’s the humility that wins over teammates.

“Obviously, the D-line wanted me to do it, so I just went and picked them up,” Ivey told The South Florida Sun Sentinel on Tuesday.

And then, of course, we have the rebels among us.

When Cowboys rookie Dez Bryant refused to tote veteran Roy Williams‘ shoulder pads after practice last month, he defied tradition — and ruffled some feathers.

“I feel like I was drafted to play football, not carry another player’s pads,” Bryant said last month. “If I was a free agent, it would still be the same thing.”

Countered Williams: “No matter if you’re a No. 1 pick or the 7,000th pick, you’ve still got to do something when you’re a rookie.”

Something for Bryant to ponder as he watches Sunday’s Hall of Fame game — with a high ankle sprain — from the sideline.

Check out more rookie hazing in this gallery.

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