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Zorn Rule: No Hazing

Malcolm Kelly, his tattoo, and his non-hazing equipment.

The young'uns were all carrying helmets up the hill after practice today. Marcus Mason had the helmets of Mike Sellers and Rock Cartwright along with his own; "I had Ladell's and CP's, but somebody helped me," he said. "I'm not a rookie, but I'm still the youngest [running back]."

New wideout Malcolm Kelly, meantime, had all sorts of extra baggage. "I don't even know whose all helmets I've got," he said. "Just part of the deal, man."

The highlight of the first-day hazing--besides veterans calling Fred Davis "Big Sleepy" and "Z's"--was last night at dinner, when the rooks were supposed to stand up on a chair and sing. Davis declined; "I just didn't know any songs off the top of my head to sing, because I'm not really a great singer," he said.

Kelly--whose relatives once told me possesses "a beautiful voice"--brought the house down with Luther Vandross's version of "A House is Not a Home." How'd he do?

"Ask one of the vets who was the best last night, see what they say," Kelly said, oozing Katherine McPhee-type confidence.

"Oh, he's pretty good," Santana Moss said. "He sung it real well, and we all sung it with him. When you get guys to sing with you, you know that you're doing a job, so he sung real well. He was the best singer last night."

"Malcolm can sing," Davis agreed. "He was in there getting standing ovations."

The fun ended last night, though. Jim Zorn arrived after the musical interlude and said there would be no more veteran-mandated singing this year. Turns out the coach has a long-standing aversion to hazing rituals, including the league-wide tradition of rookies standing to sing.

"I just remember how distracting it is for a young guy trying to make a football team," Zorn explained to me. "And when I went to Seattle, one of the early meetings in training camp, Mike Holmgren stood up and said, "Men, there will be no hazing.' I thought, 'WHAT an idea! GOSH!' And he explained why, and he kind of explained that whole thing that I always thought, 'What are we doing here?' You know, we're grown men, we're fighting to make a football team. And I'm not talking about having fun and poking and doing practical jokes and things like that, I'm not talking about that kind of hazing.

"And then, you know what happens, there'll be one guy who's really embarrassed about it, and he's a number one draft choice or he's a key player. I've seen this happen in Seattle. What happens is, if that guy decides to buck the system, buck the hazing and say, 'I'm not doing it,' then he gets marked as an unfriendly guy. But what happened, really, is the coaching staff or the policies created that issue. And it didn't even have to be created to begin with. So I'm just deferring really to Mike's leadership there, and I'm telling you that, to me, it's wonderful. It may tick a couple of veteran guys off who want to just jab and poke, but they'll get that done in other ways."

And so, no more Luther Vandross, I suppose, although Zorn said Kelly could still "stand up and vocalize" during meals if it was strictly voluntary, free musical expression for his teammates. A TV reporter asked Kelly for a snippet of song, and he declined, citing the "no hazing" rule. A few minutes later, Kelly walked by me and the coach.

"There's Malcolm, he may sing you a tune right now," Zorn said.

I asked about the standing ovation.

"Yeah, I did, but no hazing, I can't do it," Kelly said.

"You can if you want," Zorn pointed out. "It just won't be hazing."

By Dan Steinberg  |  July 21, 2008; 12:22 PM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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strike 1 for zorny

Posted by: Go Skins Go | July 21, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Opt-in hazing? Good grief. Bunch of sissies. Back in my day...

Posted by: Nate in the PDX | July 21, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

So did Kelly tell the vets, "Don't Haze Me, Bro?"

Posted by: | July 21, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

So did Kelly tell the vets, "Don't Haze Me, Bro?"

+1 on the lol count

Posted by: je suis un pizza | July 21, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Do shaving cream pies and getting duct-taped to a goalpost count as hazing rituals or practical jokes?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 21, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

I say they make the Rookies sing Hail to the Redskins each time they score a touchdown in Practice

Posted by: G20 FdaCowboys | July 21, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

no hazing = no fun = no teamwork = NO SUPERBOWL

Posted by: Anonymous | July 21, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, that no hazing policy is the reason the Seahawks have been so awful these past few years. I mean, it's not like they won their division every year, won the NFC title three season ago, and beat the Redskins in the playoffs last year, right?

Posted by: Max Wass | July 21, 2008 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I'm all for outlawing hazing - I've never seen what purpose it serves. These are grown men who are paid professionals. The notion that they can't have fun (let alone win) without forcing youngsters into embarrassing situations is ridiculous.

Good for Zorn - I like this guy more everyday.

Posted by: Tank | July 21, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

hey Max Wass why dont you move to Seattle and pull at Kurt Cobain so we don't have to read your Hater comments

Posted by: G20 FdaCowboys | July 21, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Just pointing out that for all the many reasons to hate on Jim Zorn, this is not one of them.

And that's not a very good comment you made. I mean the request for me to commit suicide I can let go, but the grammar is atrocious. Do you write letters to your mother with that lack of punctuation?

Posted by: Max Wass | July 21, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse

I thought he was suggesting that you revive the grunge movement and make overrated music, not off yourself by hooking up with Courtney Love. (Though with the 21st century schizoid capitalization and lack of punctuation it's admittedly difficult to discern the commenter's intent.)

Posted by: Anonymous | July 21, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Do shaving cream pies and getting duct-taped to a goalpost count as hazing rituals or practical jokes?

Posted by: | July 21, 2008 1:49 PM

That was the same line of thought I had. If no action is required by the applicable individual, is it necessarily still hazing? Most forms of hazing that are frowned upon often utilize forms of harassment or extreme humiliation(which public performance may fit under). I think it is necessary for Zorn to specifically limit the scope of the term "hazing." Until then, I think grey area acts should be allowable only after being voted on by team leaders. Results of the votes should be made available to Dan throughout the season with names and details to be made available at the conclusion of the season.

Posted by: sitruc | July 21, 2008 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Whatever.... they'll still get a fair deal of the rookie treatment... thus is life...

Posted by: redskinscampbell | July 23, 2008 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Come on no hazing!? Thats just part of football it happens in high school to the pros. Plenty of rookies get hazed but take it in stride and still make an impact that year.

Posted by: Randy | July 27, 2008 10:26 AM | Report abuse

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