Emmanuel Sanders wanted nothing more than to grab a pair of shears and go to town on the Denver Broncos‘ rookies.
No such luck this season.
Broncos coach Vic Fangio announced Tuesday that he’s eliminated rookie haircuts, an annual tradition — and form of hazing — in which veteran players are given carte blanche to mess with the team’s youngest additions.
Fangio’s call was equal parts rational and, to an extent, controversial.
“Oh, I am upset about that. He knows it,” Sanders told reporters following Tuesday’s practice. “He said, ‘no touching the rookies.’ There was one rookie and I was going to tell him good job. I was like, ‘I can’t touch you, but good job.’ But yeah that was fun. But at the same time, I respect Vic. I love that guy. Just how he comes in the meetings and breaks down situational football. And how much he cares about his players, how he goes about coaching and everything. It’s awesome to see. So, if that’s how he wants it to go, that’s how it is. But at the end of the day it’s not about that. It’s about wins. And so that’s what we are trying to do around here.”
Sanders isn’t alone, either.
Outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, just one year removed from this hideous cut, expressed a level of disappointment that he won’t get to return the favor.
“You don’t understand,” he said, laughing. “You all saw my haircut last year. I wanted to get somebody back so bad, but it’s all good. It grew back, so I’m not too mad anymore.”
The decision to cease the haircuts was Fangio’s and Fangio’s alone. He explained that it goes against his core philosophies in regards to team-building, as well as his own moral compass.
“I just don’t think it’s right. I just don’t believe in hazing,” he said. “There are traditions that stay put. Guys are getting up in front of the team and doing a little skit every night. Maybe a rookie’s carrying somebody’s pads off the field and so on or bringing in the donuts or the breakfast, but nothing physical.”
Sanders Appreciative of Fangio
While the two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver disagrees with Fangio’s stance, he’s appreciative of the head coach’s continual confidence in Sanders’ recovery from a torn Achilles’. Fangio has held steadfast in his belief that Sanders will be a full-go this season, and said Tuesday he’s “happy” with where the 32-year-old is at.
“It meant a lot. It meant a lot,” Sanders said. “You know I was very active in posting how I was doing on social media. And it was crazy because Coach Fangio would shoot me texts saying he saw my videos and that I’m almost there. And [he was] sending me words of encouragement all throughout that whole process. I never had a head coach text me that much in terms of excited about getting me back. Telling me that I’m ‘Almost there’ and ‘Keep pushing.’ If he sees something—that I need to work on that. And so, it’s amazing that I am finally back out here. He told me today, ‘I told them that you were going to be back, that you were going to be ahead of schedule.’ So that feels good that I am back and ready to roll and ready to make those explosive plays.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter @KelbermanNFL