America is getting a rare unfiltered taste of NFL locker room culture in the wake of the Miami Dolphins harassment scandal. In a sport that takes often immature individuals, pays them like kings and sends them into violent battle each week, it can be a fine line that separates brotherhood from bullying.
“There are some realities inside that bubble that would appall people from the outside,” said former 49ers receiver and budding author Nate Jackson. “It’s hard to understand the context, the way people speak with each other when your job description is hand-to-hand combat on a daily basis. You get 50 to 60 guys in a locker room for hours on end, and crude ways of communicating develop. It’s hard to judge them from the outside when we see the text of a voice mail up on the screen.”
It was that racially charged voice mail sent by Richie Incognito to teammate Jonathan Martin that forced the Dolphins to suspend Incognito and the NFL to launch an investigation into what went so horribly wrong in Miami. Martin, in his second season out of Stanford, left the team after a series of alleged bullying incidents.
While Dolphins players backed their suspended teammate and maintained that Martin erred by not dealing with his problems in-house, others this week took the opportunity to shine a light on the harsh realities of the NFL workplace.
Jackson, who made it to the NFL out of tiny Menlo College to play seven years in the league, recently published the book “Slow Getting Up,” an unvarnished look at the league’s locker room culture. To him, what’s happening in Miami is of little surprise.
“If you show yourself to be vulnerable or weak or affected by teasing, the teasing gets louder until you develop an effective defense or you leave,” Jackson said. “It’s fascinating to people because it pulls back the curtain on the way things are. But it is the way things are.”
Cark Steward, Bay Area News Group
Apparently, all those burned bridges have stopped smoldering.
Terrell Owens, who left San Francisco spewing venom and laying siege to the 49ers organization nearly a decade ago, will be back at Candlestick Park on Sunday, the team announced. Owens, 39, will serve as the team’s honorary game captain and is on hand to celebrate one of the top 10 moments at Candlestick Park, which is due to be razed after this season.
Owens’ moment, known in 49ers lore as The Catch II, came in 1999 when he hauled in a last-minute, 25-yard touchdown between Packers defenders to beat Green Bay in the NFC Wildcard Playoffs. Owens is the team’s second-most prolific receiver and ranks behind Jerry Rice in touchdowns (83), receptions (592), receiving yards (8,572), 100-yard receiving games (25), and 1,000-yard receiving seasons (5) .
– Matt Barrows, Sacramento Bee
Everybody wants to blame DeMarcus Cousins for the Kings’ mini-slump, of course. He’s the biggest target, the most talented player, and since signing his maximum contract extension, he’s on the cusp of becoming the wealthiest gentleman in the locker room.
But that long-term security comes with a hefty price tag, the pressure to perform intensified by that additional four years and $62 million. Microscopes are all the rage. Television cameras and microphones are everywhere.
Now, on occasion, this can work to his advantage. During Tuesday’s loss to the visiting Atlanta Hawks, the replays exonerated Cousins of a flagrant foul and completely exposed Dennis Schroder’s below-the-belt squeeze play that left the Kings’ center writhing on the floor in pain. The refs – notwithstanding Game 6 in 2002 – are not the enemy. Cousins’ reputation is the enemy, and the only way to earn the respect of the officials, his coaches and his teammates is to play to his strengths and maximize his potential.
The Kings’ 1-3 start is not all on Cousins. This starts with the learning curve of a hastily assembled organization, with the expectations of a playoff-starved community and, to some extent, with the ill-advised designation of Cousins as the team leader.
He’s not there yet, but who knows? He is 23 years old. In the previous era, he would be finishing college or starting his rookie season. Anyone remember Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing or Scottie Pippen at age 23? Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Chris Webber?
The league has multiple-choice answers for every Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, and frankly, the last thing Cousins needs right now is to be overburdened by lofty labels,
– Ailene Voison, Sacramento Bee