New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady insists that ‘hazing’ is not an issue in their locker-room.
The play-off regulars have had their fair share of controversy in recent seasons, with ‘SpyGate’ casting a cloud over some of their success under Bill Belichick, before the Aaron Hernandez murder case dominated sports pages across America.
However, the issues currently being scrutinised in Miami are not a problem in New England, according to Brady, who insists that the rookies are well treated when they move to Foxborough.
“There’s always a very respectful attitude in our locker room,” he told WEEI Radio.
“You expect the rookies to be able to contribute on the field, and you want them to be able to express themselves so that they’re not intimidated by older players, because you need them to be able to go out and produce. And that’s the most important thing.
“You only have 53 roster spots. There’s always turnover in the league. You’re always going to have rookies. You’re always going to have second-year players and third-year players. You’re going to have new players, free agents that come in and have to learn what to do. So you just want an environment where everyone can show up and be themselves and play with confidence so they can help the team win.”
Brady went on to defend some of the pre-season rituals that take place in the Patriots camp, insisting things like bad haircuts are part-and-parcel of becoming an NFL player.
“I know we always cut the guys’ hair. It’s a fun thing. It’s a camaraderie thing. It’s kind of a group sacrifice, we’re-all-in-it-together type of thing, and it’s done in a playful way,” he added.
“Hopefully it’s never done out of disrespect, and it’s done as more to bring the team together and not drive the team apart.”
Despite the troubles with the Dolphins, Brady does see an advantage in the senior members of the team setting a benchmark for the younger players to aspire to, and believes that’s the correct way to build a team that can win matches – and potentially championships.
“The veteran players set the tone, the younger players follow. That’s what creates really a strong cohesive locker room where you love the guys that you play with, you’re willing to commit yourself and sacrifice your own well-being for what’s in the best interest of the team. And that’s how you go out and win games,” he concluded.
Brady is next in action on Monday night, when the Patriots make the trip to face the in-form Carolina Panthers.