Hazing News

NFL Hazing victim unleashes his feelings on “locker-room cancer” Richie Incognito: NBC Sports


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.

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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