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Dazed and Confused Over Hazing in Latrobe

 One of my favorite summer traditions is watching Richard Linklatter's classic "Dazed and Confused." Twins games, grilling and watching "Dazed and Confused." You can set your watch to me watching this movie each June, reviving a college tradition where Jash, Troll and I would watch it basically every night in late May, until we departed for the summer.

I got behind the 8-ball on my tradition this year, having popped it in the ol' Blue Ray in mid-July. It made it almost better, in a way. One of the coolest opening sequences ever produced, the slow-motion filing of stoned high school kids into the last day of school to Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion," seemed even more timeless.

Maybe that's what got me to see it in a different light, but I found it even more enjoyable in 2010. My wife and I laughed hugely around the idea of what would happen if kids tried to do even one aspect of what Randall "Pink" Floyd, Donny, Bennie and Slater did that night.

At its root, the ritual hazing of the freshman-to-be, up to and including forcing them to bend over and accept paddling by the newly minted senior class.

I'm sure that's not what Cowboys veteran WR Roy Williams was thinking when he asked rookie Dez Bryant to carry his shoulder pads as Dallas kicked off training camp.

Or was it?

Williams grew up in Odessa, Tex., attending Permian High School, the rival of the subject school of Dazed and Confused, Midland Lee. Bryant's a Texan, too, hailing from Lufkin.

The incident allegedly played out when Williams told Bryant to carry his shoulder pads, and Bryant refused. It's sort of akin to O'Banion chasing Carl and Mitch down through their neighborhood, paddle in hand (FAH-Q) ready to dish out punishment for making it to the 9th grade. Carl and Mitch obtain refuge in Carl's house, while Carl's mom (Jerry Jones?) cocks a shotgun in O'Banion's face.

"Oh, and Mitch, Carl...we'll be seeing each other again soon."

Not to pick on Texans, but the Steelers have a few of their own. Casey Hampton, Tony Hills and Jonathon Scott all went to Texas, but former Steelers P Josh Miller told Christine Newby (perfect last name for this column) on 93.7 The Fan's web site that hazing is a part of the game.

"You got a guy that says, ‘No.' What does that mean? ‘OK, let's really get him.' So I mean, (Bryant) is setting himself up before the first snap has even started in training camp so hopefully he'll turn around and just accept anything that's coming to him and then they will get off of him," Miller said to the radio station.

These kinds of stories aren't reported around the Steelers very often. The most notable of late was what the veterans did to Rashard Mendenhall after fumbling twice at Minnesota in the preseason of 2008.

Steelers players got $100 for stealing a football that Mendenhall was required to carry with him at all times. They got $500 if they were able to return it to the running backs meeting. Mendenhall was responsible for paying the player who took it from him.

Hines Ward and Willie Parker were behind the scheme, which may or may not have helped; Mendenhall fumbled three times last season. But coach Mike Tomlin's words about the inter-team discipline is very fitting: "Peer pressure is the ultimate motivator."

While Williams tries to deflect the shine from the O'Banion spotlight he's been placed under, and people everywhere debate whether Bryant's Mitch-and-Carl act is good or bad, it seems as if the Steelers locker room acts much like what the self-described ineffectual nothing Mike says when the senior girls are telling the freshmen to "fry like bacon," or to "air raid."

"What amazes me about this is that everyone seems to be condoning this, or at least turning their heads. I mean, they gave them permission to use the parking lot, they're selling refreshments."

Then again, telling players to not fumble the ball isn't the same as telling them to carry their shoulder pads. Williams' motivation comes into question. Maybe he didn't want to drop them, like he dropped most of what was thrown at him last year.

The Steelers are a veteran-laden team, well-known around the league as being very open to helping rookies contribute to the team. Maybe they have to carry shoulder pads here and there, which seems a trifle lame, but if Hampton or Ward tells a rookie to do something, we gotta think he'll do it.

Or, at the least, we're not going to read much about it. Like Tomlin says, peer pressure is the ultimate motivator. Or, as Miller said, if you refuse, then they're really going to get you.

I'm looking forward to seeing Bryant being driven through a car wash.