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Thursday, November 7, 2013
What happens to Texans' rookies?

By Tania Ganguli

With the mess in Miami, and whatever actually went on with the Dolphins, our NFL Nation went to locker rooms across the land to find out where the responsibility lies in stopping hazing.

I checked in with a few Texans players about their thoughts on the matter. I will post some thoughts from left tackle Duane Brown later. Remember, Brown defended Dolphins guard Richie Incognito after his most recent spat with Texans defensive end Antonio Smith. Incognito and Brown played alongside each other at the Pro Bowl in January.

First, though, let's look at what life is like for a Texans rookie.

Defensive lineman Jared Crick was a fourth-round pick in the 2012 draft.

How do you view hazing in the NFL?

Jared Crick
Jared Crick says life is good for rookies with the Texans.
JC: Well, here ... I wouldn't describe it as hazing. It's more kind of, not even initiation really, just more kind of something rookies are expected to do. It's really nothing that's going to cause physical or emotional harm. At the most it's going to be carrying the vets' helmets after practice, or when it comes your time to foot the bill, you foot the bill when you go out to eat. Other than that, we don't really have any traditions -- we don't shave your head or do anything of that nature. I can't speak for anywhere else. Rookies got it good here. When they get here, if they prove they work hard and deserve to be on this team, they're treated as veterans. We got a good thing here for the rookies.

So it feels inclusive?

If you're a rookie and you know that all the other rookies are getting the same treatment you are, none of it's really bad. We'll never put a rookie in the position where he's uncomfortable to come to work every day. As long as you go along with it and have fun with it, that's all part of it. We try and have fun with the rookies instead of try and separate them from the rest of us. There's nothing that any rookie should be afraid to come to work every day.

The idea of excessive restaurant tabs has come into the spotlight a bit. Have you ever seen that be a problem?

Yeah, I mean I've never heard of anything like that. If a bill does get a little high, which it really hasn't, a veteran will help him out. That came last year, the rookie guys who obviously weren't making a whole lot of money, they gotta buy it together instead of just one dude -- $30,000 bill is outrageous no matter who's going out to eat. And I don't think you should have to pin that on a rookie no matter what. Fortunately here, we wouldn't expect a rookie to do that.

From the get-go, if we know a rookie's going to be taking us out to eat, we're not going to the most expensive restaurant in Houston. We take precautions. It's kind of a standard thing where if you're a rookie and obviously you're not first-round money or anything like that, you have someone else to help you out. And if it ever gets outrageous, the vets will pay for their own meal. That's happened last year when I went to a nice restaurant. We know what it's like to be a rookie. We know it can be tough at times being in a new city, stuff like that, so we got a good group of guys. I can't speak for other teams, but for the most part, as long as you have fun with it, it's all right.

What kinds of experiences have your friends on other teams had?

Lot of guys I went to college with, when they talked about things they had to do as a rookie, a lot of guys it was a little something; they had to shave their heads or do stuff like that. Get snacks every night for vets. If that's all you have to do, that's all right. As long as you have fun with it. When you're a veteran, you're going to look forward to a rookie buying you wings after a Thursday practice or something like that. Rookies are paid well in this league, but at the same time you don't want to ask too much, because it does get a little excessive sometimes.

How far is too far?

We get a good feel through OTAs and the summer and see if they can joke around a little. Some of them are really shy. Obviously, you're not going to go out and try and pick on them. If a rookie doesn't feel comfortable going to a certain restaurant because it's going to be expensive, we won't make him do that. We'll take him somewhere they want to go. As long as the rookie's having fun with it, not anything goes, but we'll roll along with it, but if they get a little more on the uncomfortable side, they'll cut it out or anything like that. We treat them as if they're a teammate, they're a Houston Texan and they're an integral part of this team.

What were you like as a rookie?

I was pretty shy when I first got here. I didn't talk to too many people, so they didn't really have a good feel for me yet. As the year went on, I went with everything they wanted me to do. Obviously, they're not going to not do it. I just had fun with it. I think if you have fun with it and you're willing to do the things, they don't ask too much of you. They kind of want to ... if you just say, "Yeah I'll do that, I'll get wings today," it's fine. Their eye isn't on you as much. I just rolled with it. At the end of the day, it's not a whole lot they're asking of you. They just want more entertainment than anything.