- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
After watching the rough initiations on HBO's Hard Knocks, Smith prepared for the worst when he reported to training camp two years ago.
"To my surprise, I came in and Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, [Terrell] Suggs, Haloti [Ngata] took us right in [saying], ‘Alright, we need you to be ready to play. We don’t have time to haze. You’ve got to sing, buy Popeye’s, but that’s it,'" Smith said. "It’s more so about a family atmosphere and welcoming you in instead of tearing you down and trying to isolate you. I don’t get how hazing even brings a team closer. It’s stupid to me.”
Hazing and bullying has become hot topics in NFL locker rooms since Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito was suspended Sunday amid allegations he bullied a younger teammate, Jonathan Martin, who left the team and recently checked himself into a South Florida hospital to be treated for emotional distress.
Multiple sources confirmed to ESPN on Monday that Incognito used racial epithets and profane language toward Martin on multiple occasions.
"It's surprising for me to see any player using these kinds of remarks and these kind of attacks in this day and age; even going back to the Riley Cooper thing back in the beginning of the season," defensive end Chris Canty said. "It's unfortunate this is continuing to take place. I do want to commend the Miami Dolphins for setting the precedent in the course of action they've taken as opposed to what the Philadelphia Eagles decided to do, giving Riley Cooper a slap on the wrist. I think that emboldens people to continue to use those kind of slurs, make those kind of remarks and have those kind of texts."
Does Canty believe there's a place in the NFL for Incognito?
"Playing in the NFL is a privilege, not a right and I think it should be treated as such, and I don't think there's any place for racism, racially charged attacks," Canty said. "I don't think there's a place for it."
Smith was among those Ravens who defended Martin's actions for coming forward.
"Guys are going to say that (blame the victim) because football's a manly sport, a sport that's typically about dominance and you're going to hear guys react that way -- stand up for yourself, fight back," Smith said. "But at the same time, if he did that, where would it have gotten him? We don't know if it would've worked."
Smith added, "People don't bully the strong links. So clearly there was something that he saw that he took advantage of. You don't just bully anyone, and it's very unfortunate. I'm not going to disrespect their locker room, I don't know anything about it. But if you have great leadership in there, you can see what's clearly a problem where it goes from being fun to a problem, which it escalated to and hopefully they'll get it right."