Ayanbadejo sees through the haze

Ayanbadejo sees through the haze
November 2, 2013, 8:00 pm
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In light of the Jonathan Martin situation with the Dolphins, in which the offensive lineman apparently walked away from the team because of repeated bullying, retired Ravens player Brendon Ayanbadejo recalled being part of hazing during his NFL career.

A regular contributor at Foxsports.com, Ayanbadejo wrote about how football in general and to the biggest degree the NFL emphasizes toughness — armadillo skin vs. rabbit skin. This mentality, along with a mob mentality, leads players to do things that they might reconsider if only they stepped back and really thought about just what was going on.

“In the midst of all this tough talk, we as football players start ignoring that inner voice — the inner voice that says . . . stop . . . wait,” Ayanbadejo wrote.

He recounted hazing rookies while with the Bears, including binding one in plastic wrap so that he couldn’t move, then dropping him into an ice bath.

“The water bottles were spraying, the baby powder was flowing and 15 guys were yelling and screaming,” Ayanbadejo wrote. “We had gotten out of hand. I might have dunked the rookie, my teammate, my co-worker, one of my buddies one or two times, and all of a sudden I came back to reality. That inner voice went off in my head and I thought to myself, ‘What the hell are we doing?’

“Honestly, I scared myself. A playful situation can cross the line from fun to going way too far.”

Ayanbadejo said he stopped the proceedings, pulled the rookie from the tub, helped unwrap him and gave him a towel. That’s not to say Ayanbadejo never participated in hazing again, but that moment of awareness did stick with him.

“It also made me aware that what might be OK for me might be too far for another person’s boundaries or space.”