Jaguars veterans frown on hazing of younger players
Jaguars veterans Paul Posluszny and Brad Meester know the limits of joking with young players.
By KEN HORNACKFS Florida
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Two years before signing with the
Jacksonville Jaguars as a free agent, linebacker Paul Posluszny was teammates with Richie Incognito on the Buffalo Bills.
While he didn't know Incognito long enough or well enough to pass any sort of judgment on him, Posluszny is struggling to come to grips with what reportedly made his former teammate engage in the type of persistent bullying that resulted Sunday in an indefinite suspension by the Miami Dolphins.
"All I know is he came to practice, he worked hard, and he did everything he could to be a professional," he said. "So this type of stuff I'm hearing -- I don't know him extremely well. But, yeah, it's surprising."
Dolphins offensive tackle Jonathan Martin left the team last week amid claims of harassment that were said to include threatening texts and voicemails from Incognito. Even though the Jaguars are struggling through a far worse season on the field than the Dolphins are, Posluszny said their locker room has been free of any sort of discord like that.
"Here, it's never gotten anywhere near that point," he said. "We have older guys that are respectful, and they understand the situation. I mean, Brad Meester, the oldest guy in the locker room -- you think he's going to threaten anybody?"
The 36-year-old Meester was drafted by the Jaguars in 2000 and, as an offensive lineman, had to get used to being ordered around by Tony Boselli and Leon Searcy. Aside from making rookies pick up dinner checks or occasional snacks, he's letting younger players get off far easier than he once did.
"It has changed over the years, there's no doubt," Meester said. "It's a different generation. When I first got here, you could kind of do whatever you wanted. But it's just a common sense thing."
Not including offensive tackle Luke Joeckel, the first-round pick who was lost to a season-ending ankle injury in Week 5, the Jaguars have 10 rookies on their active roster. Given that number, Posluszny is all the more opposed to engaging in any abusive behavior.
"That's how it's been for years in certain places, and maybe that's part of being a young guy," he said. "But there's a fine line that you cannot cross. At the end of the day, they're your teammates. You're playing together on Sunday. And you want everyone to trust each other, to be functioning at your best."
"We've got a great group of guys here," Meester added. "We do stuff with the rookies, but we know that there's limits. There's only so far you can take it. Everybody's a human being."
When Posluszny broke in with the Bills, he said he had to buy leather chairs and even a coffee maker at the behest of his veteran teammates. But he never once was made to feel comfortable or get called names.
At age 29, he wants to pass along a similar non-controversial legacy.
"I never want a rookie to be able to say, 'Man, Paul was a pain-in-the-ass veteran to deal with,' " he said. "I'd much rather have him say, 'Man, he really helped me out. He taught me some things.' "