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Thursday, August 8, 2013
Hair-razing hazing for Browns rookies

By Jamison Hensley

Baltimore Ravens rookie fullback Kyle Juszczyk had to buy the veterans $99.94 worth of food from Chick-fil-A on Wednesday afternoon before the team left on its flight to Tampa Bay for its preseason opener. If you don't believe me, check out 216 nuggets that he bought on the receipt he posted on Twitter.

Juszczyk should consider himself lucky. He got off easy, at least in the embarrassment department. In Cleveland, the veterans got ahold of some rookies, including first-round pick Barkevious Mingo, and shaved off parts of their hair.

"They look terrible," cornerback Joe Haden told The Plain Dealer.

Hazing in the NFL came under scrutiny last year when a video, which showed New York Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara getting thrown into a cold tub, was leaked onto the internet. Some fans and even media called it an act of bullying. But, from my experience in covering the NFL, the players themselves consider hazing a rite of passage.

I've seen rookies get taped to goalposts. I've heard rookies when forced to sing their college fight songs. And yes, I've witnessed rookies having to pay exorbitant food bills and getting creative hair cuts.

Is all of this sophomoric? Absolutely. But, for the rookies on the Ravens and Browns, the only things that took an actual hit was a wallet and a few egos. It's part of NFL tradition, which is why I'm going to guess these rookies will be doing the same things next year to the team's newcomers.

"As long as it’s positive and the guys embrace it," Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said, "I’m all for that and have no problem with that.”