The Pussification Of The NFL and America…

28 Jul 2010

Hank Nuwer has written four books on hazing and spent more than three decades analyzing cases in which it has been taken to sometimes criminal and tragic extremes. He does not take lightly the current issue involving Dallas Cowboys rookieDez Bryant and his refusal to carry a veteran’s shoulder pads off the practice field.

“It’s non-criminal, but what you’re dealing with is the idea of humiliation,” says Nuwer, an associate professor of journalism at Franklin College in Indiana.

Nuwer has seen the opinions expressed by media members, including former coaches and players, that Bryant should simply have gone along with what they say is a routine rite of passage for NFL rookies. He doesn’t buy that.

“It’s wrong to humiliate people, and we’re in an age of sexting and harassment and so forth. To allow this kind of behavior among adults is wrong,” he says.

Cowboys coach Wade Phillips has said he will not tolerate hazing on his team. But Nuwer says professional athletes carry extra responsibility.

“They are role models form high school students who are being arrested … getting felony charges for hazing and who don’t know how to hold it within boundaries.”

In a posting on his blog on, Nuwer calls on the commissioners of the major pro sports leagues to institute policies defining and prohibiting hazing. He writes:

“Call it entitlement. Call it what you will, commissioners, but you must call players on it. When it comes to passing the buck on hazing, no one passes it better than the likes ofBud SeligRoger Goodell and David Stern — and their respective predecessors as commissioners.”

The NFL says such matters as whether rookies have to carry the shoulders pads of veteran is a “club matter,” up to the discretion of individual teams.

“None of this is an adult thing to do,” says Nuwer. “It is just another black mark on sports.”

Nuwer says the NCAA and the National Federation of State High School Associations have taken stands against hazing.

“We’re in an age of extremes, but we’re also in an age when players have gone through lecture after lecture at the high school and college level to say that you don’t have to put up with hazing,” he says. “And then you suddenly get into the NFL, and it’s ‘OK.’ But it isn’t.”