More than 15 years ago, former NFL tight end Cam Cleeland fell victim to one of the most infamous hazing incidents in professional sports history. Cleeland was a rookie with the New Orleans Saints when he was forced to put a pillow case over his head and run down a hallway filled with veteran teammates. Simply put, he and the other rookies had to make it from one side to the other while they had the crap kicked out of them.
During the so-called rite of passage, Cleeland was decked in the face with a sock full of coins. His eye socket was shattered and he nearly lost his eye. Cleeland only has partial vision in the eye to this day. Needless to say, we don’t really need to explain why he feels for Jonathan Martin.
Cleeland happened to play for the St. Louis Rams the year they drafted Richie Incognito. Unlike some other former teammates who have defended Incognito as a stand-up guy, Cleeland had nothing good to say about him.
“I’m not afraid to say that he was an immature, unrealistic scumbag,” Cleeland told Sam Farmer of the LA Times. “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 sounds more in line with what Josh Brown said about Incognito being a “tortured soul” who has serious issues. Cleeland also said that it is “BS” for any NFL player to simply chalk the situation up to Martin not standing up for himself.
“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,” he 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.
“This guy [Martin] was probably feeling threatened and bothered by [Incognito] from day one. He let it simmer and let it go and finally, instead of going to the coaches.”
That’s probably exactly what happened. A lot of players have said that Incognito and Martin were friends, but our guess is Martin just gave that impression because he was trying to fit in. I love to give my friends a hard time, but I’d never say the stuff that Incognito allegedly said to Martin. Toughness can only get you so far.Google+