Cam Cleeland is now a husband, and father of three. It’s been a long journey from Sedro Woolley High School and the University of Washington.
The former Husky tight end played seven years in the NFL, including with the Saints, and Rams. It was a career, marked by touchdowns, and a well publicized hazing event.
“It was a bad event,” says the now 39-year-old Cleeland. “Running a gauntlet, with a pillow case over your head getting beat up by your roommates and then getting hit with a sock full of coins across your eye socket. I was one of multiple rookies that got hurt.”
“I fractured part of my nose, my eye socket was cracked,” says Cleeland, rattling off the injuries, “A detached retina, and it affected my vision.”
The well publicized incident during his rookie year with the Saints, prompted changes in that organization. But he says he isn’t surprised by the allegations surrounding the Miami Dolphins, and teammates Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito. Martin has accused his teammate of bullying and abuse. Cleeland says he isn’t surprised. He shared a locker room with Incognito with the Rams.
“I don’t think anyone was surprised by it,” says Cleeland, who now lives in Vancouver, Washington. “He was a difficult individual. Rough around the edges, a lot of anger in him, um vulgar comments during practice. Violence. Fighting consistently. Just his persona in the locker room didn’t make him a happy guy.”
But Cleeland says he believes every locker room is different. He hopes this latest incident prompts change so history doesn’t repeat itself.
“You can’t do that anymore,” says Cleeland.