NFL locker room culture has been under the microscope in recent months due to the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin scandal and NFL prospect Michael Sam's announcement that he is gay.
These recent developments have led to some explanations of football locker room culture by current and former NFL players, but perhaps the most vivid depiction of football camaraderie on and off the field comes in a piece written by Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin for Monday Morning Quarterback.
Barwin describes his at-work environment as unique, saying it's "very, very different" from the typical job.
"What we end up with in the NFL is a room full of 65 of the most athletic, driven, and — let's face it — reckless men in the country," Barwin wrote. "Not many sane, rational individuals would voluntarily choose to play a game that threatens to take years off your life, possibly lead to CTE [brain disorder], and leave your joints feeling like rusty bicycle chains."
Despite this, Barwin says Sam will be accepted by his teammates as long as he prove his talent on the field. He also believes Sam has the opportunity to dispel homosexual stereotypes.
"If Michael Sam can play football, if he proves that he wants to be part of the team, it doesn't matter who he sleeps with at night," Barwin wrote. "He will not only be accepted in an NFL locker room, he will make it stronger.
Barwin goes on to write that strong leadership within in the team is crucial to keeping "so much testosterone and so much ego" in the locker room in check. Still, he says he never has experienced anything like the types of hazing that allegedly occurred among Miami Dolphins players as documented in the 144-page Wells Report.
"That kind of harassment has no place in football or any sport, and should not be tolerated by any organization," Barwin wrote.