EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — While they understand the public’s concern over what might be perceived as an apparent hazing incident involving Prince Amukamara, several New York Giants insist that throwing the second-year cornerback into a tub of ice water was a football tradition and not bullying.
Amukamara and Jason Pierre-Paul, the Pro Bowl defensive end who threw him into the metal ice tub, maintained Monday that they are friends and there was nothing personal involved.
Neither would say what triggered the obscenity-laced incident.
Most players on the Super Bowl champions (No. 3 in the AP Pro32) seemed more concerned that punter Steve Weatherford actually posted the video, and that it might give youngsters the idea that bullying and hazing are OK.
“First of all, absolutely none of us condone bullying,” defensive captain Justin Tuck said. “We’ve heard that. So just go ahead and put it out there. None of us condone bullying. And you don’t want to put anybody in a situation where they can get hurt. With that said, we just got to do a better job of being conscious of how that looks and how people can perceive it.”
Coach Tom Coughlin said after Monday’s practice that he has now outlawed any locker room antics that could lead to injury and warned players about their language. He once again lectured the team about the use of social media and talked to all the players involved, except Pierre-Paul, who he plans to address soon.
Coughlin refused to say whether any of the players were fined.
Weatherford posted the video of the recent training camp incident on Saturday night. He took it down Sunday and apologized Monday to teammates and fans.
The video shows Pierre-Paul carrying Amukamara over his shoulder in the Giants’ locker room at the University at Albany and seemingly slamming him into a tub of ice water. Amukamara gets out quickly, but the look on his face seems to indicate he is upset.
Amukamara, who missed the first half of last season with a broken foot, acknowledged he was lucky that he wasn’t hurt, but he was adamant that he was not the victim of hazing. He said Pierre-Paul did not owe him an apology
“I definitely think it is has (created) a lot of distractions to our team and doesn’t give the professional football league, the NFL, a good look,” said Amukamara, who said other players were thrown in the tub at training camp.
“Coming into the NFL, we are taught to protect the shield, and I definitely don’t think that it is doing that. It is definitely a situation that we are not trying to brush under the rug. We are trying to address it, and it was just a lot of horseplay that was taken too far.”
While he denied being embarrassed by the videotape, Pierre-Paul indicated his days of throwing players into tubs might be over.
“I feel like me and Prince, we’re cool,” said the 23-year-old Pierre-Paul, who had a career-best 16½ sacks last season. “All the guys around here are cool. We are all like family to each other. It is something that we were having fun and games and the media took out of proportion.”
Pierre-Paul said he didn’t think Weatherford meant any harm by making and posting the video.
“I think he meant it to be funny,” Pierre-Paul said. “For us guys, it was funny, but to the media and all the fans, they didn’t find it funny. I apologize to my fans. It was just a joke that gone bad.”
Coughlin has long maintained that what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room.
“I don’t care what level you’re at, the locker room is the locker room and it is pretty much theirs,” Coughlin said of the players. “And when you’re away at camp, they do have fun with each other. They have some fun with the rookies and that type of thing. However, as has been stated and I’ll say it one more time, if there’s a chance that someone could be injured, then no one wants th at. And the inappropriate language being broadcast, we would never want that to be associated.
Pierre-Paul said he never intended to harm Amukamara.
Still, it sounded as though this would not be the end of the incidents.
“It’s football — guys are going to have fun and we have fun and only football players understand,” Pierre-Paul said.
Tuck said he paid his dues as a young player, getting dunked, buying breakfast for veterans and even picking up their laundry. He conceded it is a form of hazing, but says it’s benign and not meant to inflict injury and make someone feel inferior.
“We definitely don’t want to be seen in the light of bullies or guys that are taking advantage of younger guys or situations or anything like that,” Tuck said. “It’s unfortunate that it was perceived that way. We definitely do not want to be perceived that way. We’re not that way at all. We’ve just got to do our part to make sure that we do better.”
Weatherford seemed to take the fallout from the videotape the hardest. He was near tears talking about it.
“It’s just disappointing because I pride myself on being a good example. Obviously that was a lapse in judgment,” he said. “Everyone in this locker room loves each other; we all get along great. It was simply horsing around. It wasn’t perceived that way — I apologize for that. So it was a mistake on my part.”