- Last Updated: 6:02 AM, August 21, 2012
- Posted: 1:25 AM, August 21, 2012
It looked like hazing and sounded like hazing, but the suddenly besieged Giants insisted yesterday that TubGate absolutely, positively wasn’t hazing.
Adopting a nothing-to-see-here stance in the face of concern they suddenly have a locker-room bullying problem, the Giants all but waved off the recent Prince Amukamara dunking incident as “horseplay” while claiming it had already been forgotten.
In fact, coach Tom Coughlin and his players initially seemed more concerned punter Steve Weatherford had made the weeks-old incident public by posting it on Twitter than entertaining the idea that Jason Pierre-Paul tossing the terrified-looking Amukamara in a tub of ice water might be wrong.
Only after it was clear the local and national scrutiny wasn’t going away — and a photo surfaced of another recent initiation incident involving rookie receiver Rueben Randle — did Coughlin criticize the actual hazing and say he had ordered an end to cold-tub dunkings.
“You don’t think for one minute that would have happened if they thought this was going to be [made public],” Coughlin said. “I did see the tape, and it’s inappropriate on a couple of levels. First, the language was inappropriate, no doubt about that. [And] anytime you have a player that could be injured, that’s not a good move and I would be concerned about that as well.”
Coughlin had lectured the team early yesterday on being careful about what they post on social media, but several players contradicted him by saying the coach had made no mention in that talk about eliminating hazing.
Weatherford apologized for posting video of the Amukamara incident, which happened roughly two weeks ago at training camp in Albany, while Amukamara insisted there are no lingering hard feelings.
“That’s just how we get along on this team,” said the second-year cornerback and former No. 1 pick who struggled through an injury-filled rookie season. “We consider ourselves a family and brothers, and I guess that’s just how we show our love for each other. It was just fun play, but it was just taken too far, though.”
Asked if he had any hard feelings toward Pierre-Paul or felt the dunking was personally motivated, Amukamara was adamant to the contrary.
“I just know it’s not personal,” said Amukamara, who met with Coughlin on Sunday to discuss the incident after it became public. “If it [were] personal, if I felt threatened, I would have addressed it way earlier.”
Amukamara claimed he couldn’t remember what prompted his dunking and said two or three other Giants players — whom he wouldn’t name — had gotten similar treatment during training camp.
But thanks to publicity over the Amukamara dunking, it was recalled that cornerback Corey Webster had posted a picture on Twitter last week of Randle getting thrown into a tub of ice water with his arms and body bound after practice.
Pierre-Paul, who outweighs Amukamara by roughly 70 pounds, offered only the slightest of apologies for the incident.
“It was a little something that happens in here, and it got leaked out,” Pierre-Paul said. “I’m not embarrassed [by] it. We’re all family in this locker room. I feel like me and Prince, we’re cool. All the guys that were on there were cool It was just fun and games, and the media took it out of proportion.”
Pierre-Paul didn’t apologize to Amukamara, and the Giants’ star pass-rusher didn’t sound as if he had any plans to do so, either.
“I apologize to my fans, but it was just a joke that gone bad,” Pierre-Paul said. “What happens in this locker room stays in this locker room. It’s football. Guys are going to have fun, and only football players will understand.”
Justin Tuck called the language in the Amukamara video inappropriate and actually described the incident as “hazing,” but Tuck also indicated the reason Amukamara was thrown in the tub was because his teammates consider him soft.
“Obviously you would like to see him be a little bit more vocal, a little bit more, as the young kids say, ‘swag,’ ’’ Tuck said.
Speaking after practice, Coughlin said he was unaware of the Randle photo but pledged to crack down on hazing in general within his team. The NFL said it won’t investigate the Amukamara incident, calling it a “team matter.”
“We have to be a good example for the young people, and that’s a very important part of this,” Coughlin said. “As a matter of fact, the Giants [organization is] very much involved in [anti-bullying efforts]. I think when it affects other people in a negative or adverse way, then it’s an issue and then it has to be dealt with.”Follow @NYPostsports