Justin Tuck knows what it looks like. The bigger players picking on the little players. The strong bullying the weak. And if he was watching the video of Jason Pierre-Paul dumping Prince Amukamara into a cold tub the way most of the public has -- on the Internet, without context of place or environment -- he might make those same assumptions.
But, the defensive captain said Monday that's not what was going on in that video. In fact, what he sees is not a growing rift among defensive players who harbor some ill will toward each other -- Pierre-Paul calling Amukamara filthy names, attempting to find retribution over some matter -- or the implementation of some social hierarchy, but evidence of a close-knit group.
"If anything I think it shows how tight of a group we are," Tuck said. "It's part of [paying] your dues. We've all been through it. I've been dumped in a cold tub when I was a rookie. It's unfortunate that it's looked upon as it has been.
"I can see how it's perceived," Tuck added, "and the big word of the day is perception."
So what didn't we see that would have changed our perception? Pierre-Paul said Amukamara did something to incite the dunking, although he refused to say what it was. Amukamara said before the portion of the incident that was videotaped many players were horsing around and being physical with one another. And Tuck said that shortly after the camera stopped recording Amukamara was back to chumming around with the same guys who were taunting him and dunking him like a glazed cruller.
But none of that was on the video.
Tuck said besides Pierre-Paul's language, he didn't see anything wrong or out of the norm in the clip.
"It's somewhat of a tradition, sort of a rite of passage almost," Tuck said. "We've all been through some kind of thing like this. When I was a rookie I got dumped in a cold tub, had to pick up breakfasts for people, had to go pick up dry cleaning, whatever it may be to become a part of the football team. You accept it. I never thought of it as an issue whatsoever. It was something that had always been done and for me it was looked upon as, well, I'm going to do my part to become one with these guys. That's about it."
Tuck denied that the incident caught on video was bullying or malicious, but he did admit that it was a form of hazing.
"I've seen hazing when it was intended to be negative and I've seen hazing when it was intended to be funny," Tuck said. "I've seen hazing when it was intended to be: You have to do this to be a part of our group. And that's what this was. It's the kind of behavior where Prince, you're a starter now, we're expecting a lot from you, but we have to do this to you."
Tuck went so far as to say that Amukamara might be flattered to be dunked.
"We don't dunk guys who we don't think will be a part of our team and are going to help our football team," he said. "It's kind of a good thing that you get dunked. I know that doesn't sound right, but Prince is one of those guys who everybody around this room loves and we find him to be one of the most amusing guys. He kind of, in some ways, enjoys the fact that we give him a hard time."
That may or may not be the case. Amukamara said he tries to understand why he is treated the way he is. "I don't really ask why," he said.
Now, though, a lot of people are asking why the Giants act this way.
"No one really understands the culture in this locker room and locker rooms around the country unless you've been in one," Tuck said. "I definitely can see how people outside of this locker room can take it in a negative light and things of that nature, and for good reason. I definitely see both sides of it . . . We're going to do our part to make sure that nothing like this happens again."