Tom Coughlin often uses the word "family" when describing his football team. That's the kind of culture they've built in the New York Giants' locker room.
Families fight. Moms and dads grow impatient with one another; brothers pick on sisters; and younger children get teased by older ones. It's natural and it's normal.
So we shouldn't expect anything else from the 32 pro football families that reside in the United States. Hell, we see quarrels on nearly a daily basis with the team that the Giants share a home with, the New York Jets.
The G-men, by comparison, get along quite well. Coughlin runs a tight ship and demands a lot from his players, and those players respect him in turn.
But over the weekend, the atmosphere of the locker room became somewhat of a concern when punter Steve Weatherford made a very poor choice by tweeting out a video that featured defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul dumping Prince Amukamara into a cold tub at the team's facility.
In the football world, the incident itself wasn't criminal. In comparison to the hazing that goes on in the sport, this was tame.
Still, it's a video that never should have left the locker room. While Coughlin did state publicly that he was troubled by the event that took place, you get a strong feeling that what bothered him most was the fact that an unpleasant family moment was shared with the world.
Would any of us feel comfortable with that?
This was an example of siblings fighting, and although the victim (Amukamara) did seem a little upset about being bullied, it did not appear to be a malicious act.
Here's how Amukamara explained it today, via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post:
My teammates know I have a great sense of humor and I am always funny and laughing off the field. So I just try to put on a serious face to just keep them off guard. But definitely no hard feelings.'
We consider ourselves a family and brothers and I guess that is how we show our love for each other, we mess around like that. Just like when you have a brother or a family member, it is just fun play. It was just taken too far though.
We don't dunk guys who we don't think will be a part of our team and are going to help our football team. It's kind of a good thing that you get dunked. I know that doesn't sound right, but Prince is one of those guys who everybody around this room loves and we find him to be one of the most amusing guys. He kind of in some ways enjoys the fact that we give him a hard time. Again, we're still very sensitive to the fact of the bullying epidemic that's around this world and how people can perceive it in the wrong light. We'll just try to be very conscious of that.
Again, it shouldn't surprise anyone that new or unproven players get thrown into cold tubs here and there. Many of these guys are fresh out of college, jacked with testosterone and prone to rough-housing.
Those not familiar with such a culture might judge the Giants differently, but the majority of us aren't surprised by an episode like this. And as a result, the team will escape from this without losing much dignity. Pierre-Paul uses inappropriate language, but he's with his peers in what is supposed to be a safe place.
We've all had moments that we presumed were private that we'd never be comfortable with being revealed to the world.
The guys deny that this was an example of hazing or bullying, but I have a hard time purchasing that claim. To me, it was a fairly blatant example of such shenanigans. And while the team publicly states that those types of incidents are strictly prohibited, that's just what they have to say.
See, what happened in that video was relatively harmless to Amukamara, who is a grown man and is, in fact, the same age as Pierre-Paul. But the concern is regarding the high school football players around the country who might see it and follow JPP's lead.
The Giants don't have to change their locker-room tactics. They just have to make sure that the doors stay closed.
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