METAIRIE, La. — Zach Strief won’t deny that he’s willing to ride teammates harder than most people would in society’s more common work place.
But he doesn’t see it as bullying or hazing or anything of the sort. Not when every party involved can get something out of it.
Earlier this season, Strief said some of the line was having problems showing up on time. So, as the veteran leader, he made a conscious effort to get the situation corrected.
“I'll go to them and say, 'Hey, you're coming in at 7 in the morning now because you can't come in on time,’ ” Strief said. “I'm gonna call you every night like a little kid to make sure you know what time the meeting is.' That's riding a guy, right? Now, you could turn around and say that's a good thing for him, too.”
The questions Strief fielded Wednesday were posed to the eight-year veteran in response to the complicated and still not fully vetted bullying scandal coming out of the Miami Dolphins’ locker room.
According to reports, Dolphins players allegedly spent much of the past year-and-a-half leaving the cafeteria table when Jonathan Martin sat down. Additionally, offensive lineman Richie Incognito allegedly left threatening messages with racially insensitive language on Martin’s voicemail.
The end result was Martin taking a leave of absence from the team and Incognito getting suspended by the Dolphins.
In New Orleans, all players questioned said nothing has reached that level inside the locker room. The typical rookie “hazing” involved those players buying lunch for the veterans, carrying the veterans’ pads off the field during training camp and getting taped to the goal post in the preseason.
“I never had a problem with it,” defensive end/outside linebacker Junior Galette said. “Carrying helmets? I did it … it was like, ‘OK.’ You want to be involved. You want to be part of the team so bad, it’s like, ‘Whatever, I’m willing to do that.’”
But most were keeping their thoughts on the scandal close to the vest, citing lack of knowledge of every detail of information that led to the locker room issues being aired publicly.
“So nobody here or in the public can comment on that because you'll never know,” quarterback Drew Brees said. “We probably will never know, because whatever is found to be investigated or whatever is probably not gonna be all true anyway. You only know if you're in that locker room.”
For rookie nose tackle John Jenkins, there’s no worry that anything will reach a level that forces a player to leave the team.
“We’re blessed to have a good group of veterans here,” Jenkins said. “They use common sense and they don’t try to overuse their power because they were in our position before. That’s how I look at it.”