The alleged bullying that drove Jonathan Martin to leave the Miami Dolphins has shed an unflattering light on the scary reality of the culture of some locker rooms around the NFL, but one coach is making it clear that not all teams partake in this behavior.
First-year Bears coach Marc Trestman put an end to those so-called “traditions” the moment he arrived in Chicago, saying that hazing has no place in a team setting.
“I told the team the first night, when you haze somebody, you take their ability to help you win. Everybody’s here to help you win,” Trestman said to CBSChicago’s Adam Hoge.
Trestman started his reign with the Bears stressing the importance of respect from Day 1. Throughout the offseason, training camp and into the regular season, the first-year coach prioritized the healthy relationships that his players formed with one another. After spending time with nine different NFL organizations, including the Dolphins briefly in 2004, Trestman has seen hazing with some teams, but he was adamant that it would not be a part of the Bears’ locker room.
“We’re not talking about taking a helmet and walking off the field with a helmet,” he said. “We’re talking about other things. The words you use, the way you act, the things you say, affect people from all different backgrounds and places. We’ve got to understand that the beauty of this game is it draws people from everywhere, from different realities and different perceptions, but that can all be neutralized through respect and using the proper language and proper words in the right place and the right time, in this building, on the field and when we’re out in the community because we represent the entire city.”
Trestman’s aversion to the issue that has become pretty mainstream in the NFL wasn’t well-received by all of his players at first. Brandon Marshall, who also spent time with the Dolphins and played with Richie Incognito, was initially opposed to his coach’s plan.
“There were some things we were like, ‘Man, this goes on in every locker room, we’d love to continue to do it.’ But coach just said, ‘Hey, we’re going to nip that in the bud, I want guys to focus on football and everyone just focus on their job and not a rookie night or what the guys might do to me the next day,’” Marshall said.
Although the wide receiver admitted that the messy situation in Miami is “the culture of the NFL,” he alongside Trestman seem to be working to change the conceived notion of that culture, advocating group sessions for players to talk about these issues.
Photo via Twitter/@jshkoehler