For Cam Cleeland, hazing incident altered his NFL career — and life
"Coach [Mike] Ditka
gave me a speech as soon as it was done," he recalled. "He was like, 'Oh, man, you should have just popped those guys in the mouth.' I said, 'Coach, there were 60 of them.'"
Seven years later, when Cleeland was playing for St. Louis, the Rams
drafted Incognito, who had been kicked off his college teams at Nebraska and Oregon.
"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."
Just as he shakes his head at Ditka's suggestion he simply should have thrown punches, he scoffs at the reaction some have about the situation in Miami.
"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."
What the NFL lacks, Cleeland said, is a culture in which players can be free to express their concerns, as they would be able to do in a normal workplace. NFL players are warriors, and admitting any hint of weakness simply isn't allowed.
"This guy [Martin] was probably feeling threatened and bothered by [Incognito] from day one," Cleeland said. "He let it simmer and let it go and finally, instead of going to the coaches. ...
"What happens if you go to your coach and say, 'This guy's bothering me.' He's going to look at you and go, 'Are you crazy? You wuss. You're not tough. Get out of my office.' I'm not saying that's what would happen with [Dolphins Coach Joe] Philbin
, because I don't know, but that's what's going to happen with 95% of coaches."