NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s not that the Giants really need a reminder about harassment in the workplace, but Tom Coughlin said he’s not taking any chances.
Using the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin mess as a teachable moment was high up on the head coach’s priority list on Wednesday.
“I will do that. I have my captain group, and I plan on talking to them, and I may say something to the team. Only because I do see that the comments are coming forth, and as I mentioned the other day, the teamwork concept is the first thing in the door for us,” Coughlin said.
As most of the civilized world knows by now, Incognito, a former Pro Bowl guard, has been suspended indefinitely by the Miami Dolphins for reportedly making the life of fellow offensive lineman Martin a living hell. It’s alleged Incognito repeatedly harassed his teammate, including racially-charged barrages on the phone and requiring him to pay thousands of dollars at a time for team meals and entertainment.
Coughlin said he has faith no such unwritten rules apply in his locker room, but added he would make a point of it just to be on the safe side.
“We want everybody to be the very best football player they can possibly be,” he said. “The player has to be comfortable in his environment. He’s not going to grow and develop if he isn’t.”
Coughlin, whose team is 2-6 and facing a must-win Sunday against visiting Oakland, said more than anything else the public relations nightmare in Miami should force every NFL team to at the very least take stock in what’s going on in its shop.
“Vigilance is the key issue,” he said. “I’m reminded of a Donald Rumsfeld quote. ‘You manage by setting boundaries with freedom in the middle.’ The principles are freedom, commitment, trust, teamwork. You cannot violate those principles. If [bullying] takes place, obviously you have to put your foot down.”
Earlier this week, cornerback Prince Amukamara said a 2012 incident captured on video that showed him visibly upset after being dumped in a cold tub by teammate Jason Pierre-Paul was not an act of hazing.
“I was definitely trying to put myself in Jonathan’s shoes and see if it was identical to my situation,” Amukamara said on Monday. “Last year, with what I went through, I’m still sticking to my story. That wasn’t bullying at all. That was just fun in the locker room.”
Coughlin said that incident surprised him.
“I was concerned and addressed the issue at that point in time,” he said. “Concern from a two-fold standpoint: One, the player could have been hurt. If he was being asked or forced to do something that he wasn’t compatible with, he would have been hurt and that would have been a major issue for us. Second, I was disappointed that there were some who thought it was funny.”
The head coach said so much of the hazing issue is just common sense, and he wishes more players would use some.
“We all know the difference between right and wrong. I don’t care what’s being written or whatever about an incident like this, everyone knows when things go too far. When things go too far, you have to do something about it. I can’t say it any more simple,” Coughlin said.
Coughlin’s discussions with his players were to come a day after safety Antrel Rolle went on WFAN and told hosts Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts that while condoning what Incognito did is wrong, so is not criticizing Martin for not standing up for himself.
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