(CBS) In the wake of the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin story in Miami, bullying in NFL locker rooms has become a hot-button issue in sports.
Incognito reportedly bullied Martin so severely that Martin ultimately took a leave of absence from the team. Incognito has since been suspended indefinitely.
Former Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer joined Matt Spiegel and Laurence Holmes on Wednesday to discuss his history with being bullied in an NFL locker room.
“The first year I filled in for (Brian) Urlacher when he was on injured reserve (in 2004) for a large part of the year, I hated coming into work because of Olin (Kreutz.) He was a jerk. He was riding me because I was the third-year guy, or second-year guy trying to fill in for a super star. I can relate in the sense that you’re going to have people in your workplace that you don’t necessarily like.
“(Kreutz) thought that everything he was always doing was in the best interest of the team. I don’t want that to come across like I’m admonishing him or saying that he was a bad leader. He was a great leader, but at the same time, when you have a room full of alpha males who were all the best players on their high school teams and one of the best players on their college team, to get them to buy in and fall into line, you need people that take leadership roles in an aggressive way like that. If you’re Jerry Angelo or you’re Lovie Smith, as much as you might not approve of some of the methods, you like the results. … People were going to come to OTAs and they weren’t going to have loose lips with the media, they weren’t going to do a lot of things to damage the locker room – not because they didn’t want to, but because they were scared of Olin.”
Hillenmeyer also explained that he believes there may be more to this story than what meets the eye. He believes players in the Dolphins’ locker room even empowered Incognito.
“I think in (Martin’s) case to go as far as quitting, I doubt that it had to do with the remnant damage that came from a voicemail he got in April. The straw that broke the camel’s back was him sitting down at a table and having everyone get up. So, if you’re drawing a line down the middle of the locker room 10 days ago and asking people who’s side they were on, it sound like most of his teammates would’ve been on Incognito’s side. I think that’s the scariest part of this. The bully is empowered by everyone else in this situation.”