Retired Cam Cleeland relates brutal Saints hazing incident

Think what allegedy happened between Miami Dolphins indefinitely suspended offensive guard Richie Incognito and teammate Jonathan Martin was bad?

Just refer back to former New Orleans Saints tight end Cam Cleeland from 15 years ago.

As a rookie, Cleeland was forced to run a gantlet with a pillowcase over his head and be kicked and punched by veterans.

"Guys were just rabid," Cleeland told the Los Angeles Times. "And you had a couple guys in the front that would stand in a three-point stance, and you would fire off the line like he was going to knock you over. You tried to make it through, and they literally just beat the ever-loving crap out of you as you tried to get through.

"Everything you can imagine, from kicking, punching, scrapping. I remember my ankle was sore and I had missed two days of practice because I had rolled my ankle. Guys were like, 'He's got a bum ankle! We don't care!'"

Cleeland was struck by linebacker Andre Royal swinging a sock filled with coins and nearly lost the sight in one eye due to a broken eye socket, also breaking his nose, and still has just partial vision in that eye.

"Coach [Mike] Ditka gave me a speech as soon as it was done," Cleeland told the Los Angeles Times. "He was like, 'Oh, man, you should have just popped those guys in the mouth.' I said, 'Coach, there were 60 of them.'"

Cleeland was a teammate of Incognito's with the St. Louis Rams years later. Incognito had been booted from the team at Nebraska and Oregon for his misbehavior.

Now, he's been accused of bullying Martin, including making racially-charged statements.

"I'm not afraid to say that he was an immature, unrealistic scumbag," Cleeland said. "When it came down to it, he had no personality, he was a locker-room cancer, and he just wanted to fight everybody all the time. It was bizarre beyond belief."

What should Martin have done about Incognito?

"This guy [Martin] was probably feeling threatened and bothered by [Incognito] from day one," Cleeland said. "He let it simmer and let it go and finally, instead of going to the coaches. What happens if you go to your coach and say, 'This guy's bothering me.' He's going to look at you and go, 'Are you crazy? You wuss. You're not tough. Get out of my office.' I'm not saying that's what would happen with [Dolphins Coach Joe] Philbin, because I don't know, but that's what's going to happen with 95% of coaches."

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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun.

Aaron Wilson
Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post, his second stint at the Post. He has previously written for Pro Football Talk and FOX Sports-Scout. Entering his 13th year covering the Baltimore Ravens, he's a beat writer for The Baltimore Sun. Wilson has also covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans.

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