Dallas Cowboys rookie Dez Bryant recently made waves by refusing to participate in his team’s traditional hazing ritual. The utter defiance of the NFL noob sent a shockwave across the sporting universe. How dare an overpaid, overindulged, and overexposed professional athlete act like a mature human being! Bryant should consider himself lucky he didn’t have to endure one of these other hallowed rookie hazing rituals.
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By Danny Gallagher
9. The New York Yankees Make Their Rookies Play “Dress Up”
The Yankees have earned sort of an unfair image as the evil Darth Vader Empire of Major League Baseball, and I think that’s a rather unfair assessment. We would never see Emperor Palpatine doing this to his first year stormtroopers.
The team regularly makes their rookies dress up in costume, usually during autograph sessions so the fans can join in the embarrassing hilarity. The costumes range from characters from The Wizard of Oz to midriff-baring cheerleaders. The latter makes me very thankful that Babe Ruth didn’t start his career as a Yankee. The thought of his pudgy muffin top poking out of a cheerleader skirt would make me wish I had never invented time travel.
8. The Dallas Cowboys Shaved the Heads of Their Players
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Bryant might have been standing up for himself when he refused to take Williams’ pads to the locker room, but he’s lucky Roy Williams didn’t ask him to bring him back a straight razor and a buffing towel.
America’s “former” team used to make their rookies sit down for a very long and embarrassing haircut that could make Donald Trump’s hair crack snide jokes behind their backs. And they didn’t just shave them bald. They styled it to make them look like the creepy uncle who lives in your grandparent’s basement or the worst mullet ever to be seen by the public since Travis Tritt’s last tour.
7. The New Orleans Hornets Make Their Rookies Perform in Public
The Hornets might be one of the newer teams in the NBA roster, but they still know how to eviscerate their draft picks with the force of a thousand girls-night-out karaoke bar trips.
During training camp, the team holds a public practice where fans can get geared up for the season. The veterans turn this pubic gathering into an impromptu “Gong Show” from Hell where the rookies have to stand up and perform something of their superiors’ choosing. Two seasons ago, point guard Darren Collison had to stand before a crowded high school gym crowd and sing a solo performance of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.”
Don’t watch the video if you have a spine or the sheer cringe-worthiness of it will make it shiver clean out of its socket.
6. The 49ers’ Joe Montana Used to Hide Rookies’ Bikes in Trees
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This Hall of Fame quarterback and Super Bowl regular scored a lot of points in his day, but he also scored an equal amount of sniggling and suppressed laughter from his teammates, especially during the pre-season.
During training camp, the players had to ride a bicycle to the facility, so the longtime San Francisco quarterback used to take the rookies’ bikes, stick them in the highest tree, and watch as they tried finding them in a never-ending state of bewilderment. Of course, it takes a lot of work to lug a heavy mountain bike into a towering California redwood, but I like to think he spiraled the bikes into their heavy branches as part of his own pre-season training.
5. The San Diego Chargers Stick Their Rookies with Huge Dinner Receipts
Anyone who ever said that major league athletes are nothing more than spoiled brats with overflowing bank accounts...can be given a pat on the back for correctly predicting the mindset of the cream of sports’ crop.
Every year, the San Diego Chargers' first round draft pick has to take out the rest of the team for a nice dinner. Unfortunately, the team doesn’t celebrate its latest attempt at NFL glory by having a sensibly-priced dinner at Denny’s or The Olive Garden. They pick the fanciest, most expensive restaurant in town and leave the poor rookie stuck with the bill. Linebacker Larry English had to foot the bill for last year’s dinner, a check that cost him over $14,000 in pocket change...and this was considered to be one of the cheaper ones in the team’s history.
4. The New Orleans Saints Made Their Players Run “The Gauntlet”
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Mike Ditka’s second season with the Saints started in controversy before the team even had a chance to take the field. The veteran players lined up the rookies, put pillow cases over their heads, and made them run through a “Gauntlet” of players swinging sacks of coins and fists over their heads. Some of the rookies sustained bruises, blurred vision, and a broken nose before the season started, one of which ended a career and prompted a federal lawsuit. As shocking as this sounds, it’s not like the Saints weren’t used to being routinely beaten on a regular basis before they won the Super Bowl. So technically, it’s not hazing. It’s practice.
3. The Oakland A’s Made Pitcher Huston Street Play Dress-up
Playing dress-up is nothing new when it comes to rookie hazing, but the A’s raised the bar in 2004 when they made their new pitcher practice in a get-up that only could have been even more embarrassing if he was the catcher.
Relief pitcher Huston Street had to report to part of his training camp in a schoolgirl outfit that made Britney Spears look overdressed. He not only had to spend time walking to and from camp in the outfit, but he also had to practice in it. Do catchers have a call sign for throwing away your dignity?
2. The Pittsburgh Pirates Make Their Players Dress Up in God Knows What
Pittsburgh’s attempts at a rookie Halloween party make the A’s and the Yankee’s costumes look like well-tailored Hugo Boss tuxedos.
The team’s veterans regularly raid the dumpsters of Halloween costume stores and make their rookies wear everything from patriotic stripper regalia to female fat suits. It’s like watching Mardi Gras through a pair of the world’s weakest beer goggles.
1. The San Diego Padres Made Their Rookies Wear Hooters Uniforms
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The Padres, however, not only win the best award for dress-up hazing but quite possibly for the most humiliating hazing since fraternities found at least three new uses for goats.
Their rookies had to wear Hooters uniforms, complete with the extremely short orange shorts during their pre-season training season. They not only had to wear them during practice, but even on the plane ride to the training camp. On the plus side, none of the players required a patdown as they walked through airport security since they could clearly see that none of them were packing.