INDIANAPOLIS – Hazing inside locker rooms or baseball clubhouses isn’t anything new. It's been around quite some time. Rookies often have to sing in front of their teammates during training, carry helmets and shoulder pads throughout the season or bring doughnuts in the morning.
But that’s the extent of things inside the Indianapolis Colts’ locker room. And it’s not because of the accusations of what’s being reported in Miami with guard Richie Incognito and teammate Jonathan Martin.
This goes back to when Tony Dungy started coaching the team in 2002.
“When he was here, he was all about there would be none of the rookie hazing type stuff and it’s continued that way,” veteran kicker Adam Vinatieri said. “We’ve got a group of older veteran guys that don’t believe in dumb stuff and that’s the way it is.”
Having fun and cracking jokes in the locker room is expected amongst teammates. Players often joke about the type of music some of their teammates listen to or their clothing choices. But it’s all in fun. Something you would do with your close friends. The Colts are around each other on almost a daily basis from the end of July until the season ends in January or February. You can even argue that they spend more time with each other than with their own families.
But it doesn’t go overboard -- the way it’s reportedly happened in Miami -- with the Colts.
“Guys in this locker room understand what hazing is,” said cornerback Vontae Davis, who spent his first three seasons with the Dolphins. “When you can’t distinguish taking advantage of somebody from just cracking jokes, you’re not being reliable as a veteran. We know how to distinguish if we’re taking advantage of somebody or not. We hold each other accountable. We’re a big family.”
Fleener said he’s exchanged text messages with Martin but declined to go into specifics on what they talked about. He did, however, stick up for his former teammate when a reporter said Martin has a reputation for not being tough.
“I think that’s a stupid, stupid statement,” Fleener said. “If somebody wants to dispute that, I’d be happy to talk to them. It’s neither here nor there. It’s not really something that we’re focused on.”
Dungy was on The Dan Patrick Show earlier this week and said they had warning flags about Icognito coming out of Nebraska in 2005. The Colts had him on the “DNDC” list, which means do not draft because of character issues.
The Colts have a brotherhood in the locker room. There’s mutual respect from the veterans down to the rookies to the training and equipment staff. Veterans like Robert Mathis, Cory Redding and Antoine Bethea make sure they stay together and keep their focus on winning.
“If you see something that’s not right, you take care of it,” Vinatieri said. “That’s just the way it is. It doesn’t have to be an old guy to a rookie or a rookie to rookie. There’s no disrespect allowed around here from coaches to players, from players to coaches, to other staff, to the cleaning crew. If anybody gets that way, it gets shot down pretty quickly.”