I thought it would be funny. Figured it was a joke of some kind. I clicked on the video provided by Pro Football Talk of Giants veterans throwing second-year CB Prince Amukamara into the ice cold tub, and I waited for the comedy. None came.
In the explicit video (which you can watch if you can stand the language and embarrassing nature of it all), pass-rusher Jason Pierre-Paul is shown tossing Amukamara into a freezing cold tub while his teammates taunt and laugh. Apparently, this has happened before, many times. He estimated eight times last year, and he also had his clothes cut up.
No, Amukamara is not a rookie anymore, and this isn’t some sort of welcome-to-the-NFL deal (though even those sorts of tie-you-to-the-goalpost pranks should have gone out with leather helmets). This is a second-year player, a contributor, and the big kids are picking on him. It’s recess, and the Giants CB is the weaker kid getting his pants pulled down for everyone to laugh at.
It’s also sad. You can dress it up how you want, but that’s what it is. Maybe Amukamara did something to deserve it. Maybe he hasn’t shown the respect necessary to be in an NFL locker room (whatever that means). Maybe he hasn’t learned to be a pro. Maybe he mouths off to the veterans. Maybe it’s a Full Metal Jacket-type thing, where he’s hurt the unit. But this isn’t a life-and-death situation. And whatever he hasn’t learned, I don’t know that he’ll learn it by his eighth tumble in a bucket of ice.
What is the lesson they are trying to teach him? And is this the way to do it?
Amukamara spoke about it to the Star-Ledger’s Mike Garafolo, expressing dismay, concern, and most of all cluelessness. And just reading it, I hurt for him. Just look at his face in the video and you will, too.
What the former first-rounder pick said was, “I mean, I’m not a rookie anymore, so I don’t know why I’m getting thrown in the tub. I know it’s all love. … Yeah, no one ever likes it, especially when it’s you vs. eight and no one’s helping you. But it doesn’t mess up our team morale or anything.”
Read that again. “It’s you vs. eight and no one’s helping you.” What part of team-building is that? How does humiliating a player in front of a nation — and uploading the video just to be sure we all see it — make the Giants a better team? How does it make them closer? How does it make Amukamara a better teammate or person? How is it any different from what doing something that your mom would’ve grounded you for?
I’ve been picked on. I’d gather that most of us have at some point. I remember the seniors stepping on me during football practice in high school, in an effort to teach me something or other. I’m sure I deserved it. I’m sure I was a little punk in their eyes. But it didn’t make me respect them. It made me feel sorry for them for going out of their way to embarrass a younger, weaker person.
It’s hazing, and it’s very far from being right. It’s bullying, just using a different word. And in the end, maybe this video will help spark a conversation that will help improve the landscape of it all. Punter Steve Weatherford has apologized for posting the vieo, which was nice. “The video I posted was distasteful,” he tweeted. “Our team is a family, and we love each other. I am sorry to the fans.”
Wish he would’ve said he was sorry to the player whose life he turned upside down, exposing him as a wimp . Coach Tom Coughlin, a good man, seemed perturbed by the whole thing. The episode does not seem like something he would endorse, though it was surprising that his anger was aimed at the fact that something from inside the locker room became “part of social media.” I’ll bet when he talks to those involved, he’ll realize it was the act that was the problem, not the leaking of it.
You can argue whether or not football players are role models, but the jig is up. They are. Like it or not, millions of children look to them. They should do better than beating up a weakling, who is apparently so numb to it that he gives up on fighting back. I’m sure I’m standing on some moral high-ground or whatever, but it’s not even really that high. I mean, do we still have to be told that beating up a person who can’t defend himself is wrong?
I get the other side of it. Boys will be boys. It’s a locker room. Teams have been making rookies earn their keep for years. OK. Why does that make it right? You think the Amukamara feels any better knowing similar younger players were tormented like he was? Imagine his parents watching that. Think they feel better?
And here’s the other thing: He’s going to play this year. A lot. And he’s a pretty good player, one his teammates will depend on. When the Giants got to have it, they’ll be staring at him in the huddle. I know he’s a pro, and I know he’s getting paid, and I know it’s his job… but why would he want to play for guys who do that to him? Maybe they’ll make it right. I hope they do.
I also hope the attention it has garnered will allow the Giants — and likely other teams — to really think about their actions. For the next weakling’s sake.