By Ashley Dunkak
Before running back Reggie Bush came to Detroit, he played for Miami, and he served on the Dolphins’ leadership council that has recently come under scrutiny because it included longtime bad boy Richie Incognito as a member.
Bush provided some insight into Incognito, the Dolphins locker room and rookie hazing Tuesday on Stoney and Bill of 97.1 The Ticket.
In 2012, that council consisted of Bush, tackle Jake Long, wide receiver Davone Bess and linebacker Karlos Dansby. The group did not include Incognito, who was suspended by the Dolphins after leaving a voicemail for younger teammate Jonathan Martin that contained racial slurs and threats. There were derogatory text messages as well.
Bush, of course, is now with the Lions. Long is with the Rams, Bess is with the Browns and Dansby is with the Cardinals. It certainly sounds like the Dolphins had a significant void to fill in terms of leadership. Bush said he would not speak to Incognito’s character but that Jonathan Martin, who received the messages from Incognito, made the decision to walk away from the team and the game.
“It’s very unfortunate,” Bush said. “We all grew up wanting to play football. This is like a dream come true for us. Any time a guy gets pushed that far, something has to be done. There has to be some kind of plan put in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again, and I think it’s something everybody around the NFL can look at and learn from.”
Bush said he never had problems with Incognito but was not much more specific than that.
“I choose not to really comment on the details of what type of guy he is,” Bush said. “I know Richie, I’ve hung out with Richie before, we were teammates, and I’ve never really had any issues with him. I choose not to try to pick sides. Obviously I think you have to look at the victim of the situation and just you hope that he can bounce back from this and get back to playing football.”
As far as hazing in general – Martin was also apparently made to contribute $15,000 for a Las Vegas trip he was not attending – Bush said he has not seen anything in his career that he felt went too far.
Part of that, though, might be because he stayed ahead of the curve. His first year in Miami, 2011, Bush bought Segways for all his offensive linemen after he rushed for 1,000 yards. His rookie year with the Saints, Bush offered to take out the whole offense rather than waiting for his older teammates to demand it.
“I took the initiative because I didn’t want to have to get hit with the big one,” Bush said, mentioning that the meal cost him between $5,000 and $10,000. “You always heard the horror stories of guys getting hit with the big bills, so I just went ahead and took initiative like, ‘Hey guys, this is it. I’m taking care of you,’ so I never had any issues.”
To Bush, hazing has decreased quite a bit since he got in the league.
“I’ve never seen where it got too out of hand,” he said. “Our rookies now, the rookies that we have on our team, they don’t do anything. They haven’t even gotten – you’re supposed to get food for the plane when you have away games. They don’t even do that. I thought it was a huge drop-off.”