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A graduation from rookie hazing, sort of

Prince Amukamara runs a drill during NFL training

Prince Amukamara runs a drill during NFL training camp in Albany. (July 30, 2012) Credit: Hans Pennink

Prince Amukamara was happy after Thursday night's game. Not because the Giants won. Not because he played. Not even because he played well and the Giants won. It was because it was the third game of the season and that means that, according to the unwritten laws of the locker room, he is no longer a rookie.

That strange fine print in the definition of a rookie -- that a first-year player is one until the third game of his second season -- was exposed last month when the world learned about the traditions and techniques of NFL hazing after a video was revealed of Amukamara being dunked into a cold tub.

Amukamara still isn't sure why the definition is blurry, but he seemed thrilled to have graduated. "I'm not a rookie anymore," he announced in the locker room on Friday. "So I'm excited about that."

Ah, but there may be a catch.

"They said because I didn't play a lot of games last year I still have more [hazing], but I think they understand that that was the third game, so I'm clear," Amukamara said warily.

So theoretically, there will be no more dunkings for Amukamara. Does he now become the dunker? Or -- as coach Tom Coughlin eliminated the practice -- participate in some other form of rookie initiation?

"I'm not huge on hazing so I probably will never do that or you'll never hear about me doing that," he said. "But, I mean, I watch."

He said he will not break it up if he sees other veterans trying to dunk a rookie into a tub the way he was. But, he added, it has nothing to do with any moral codes or ethical strengths or beliefs in team-forming. The biggest reason he said he would not interfere with a dunking: "Because then I might get wet."

That may be the most logical thing anyone has said on the subject.

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