Tne New England Patriots have had their share of controversy over the years — SpyGate, the arrest of Aaron Hernandez — but uncontrolled hazing isn’t anything they’ve had to deal with, Tom Brady says.
The quarterback, in his weekly WEEI Radio appearance, defended the Pats’ rookie rituals, which he said extend only to the Slip ‘N’ Slide and bad haircuts in training camp.
“There’s always a very respectful attitude in our locker room,” he said (via CSN New England’s Phil Perry). “You expect the rookies to be able to contribute on the field, and you want them to be able to express themselves so that they’re not intimidated by older players, because you need them to be able to go out and produce. And that’s the most important thing. You only have 53 roster spots. There’s always turnover in the league. You’re always going to have rookies. You’re always going to have second-year players and third-year players. You’re going to have new players, free agents that come in and have to learn what to do. So you just want an environment where everyone can show up and be themselves and play with confidence so they can help the team win.
“I know we always cut the guys’ hair. It’s a fun thing. It’s a camaraderie thing. It’s kind of a group sacrifice, we’re-all-in-it-together type of thing, and it’s done in a playful way. Hopefully it’s never done out of disrespect, and it’s done as more to bring the team together and not drive the team apart.”
In the wake of the Miami Dolphins’ Incognito-Martin scandal, NFL players may be indulging in a bit of selectivism, if not revisionism. But Brady, like a physician who’s gone through 100-hour workweeks as a resident, sees the benefits of rites of passage.
“The veteran players set the tone, the younger players follow,” Brady said. “That’s what creates really a strong cohesive locker room where you love the guys that you play with, you’re willing to commit yourself and sacrifice your own well-being for what’s in the best interest of the team. And that’s how you go out and win games.”