Hazing is simply a part of many walks of life, for better or worse—largely hinging on the severity of the hazing. For the NFL, most if not all teams conduct a rookie talent show, where the new players at some point during training camp have to get up in front of their peers and perform.
Another common rookie hazing ritual is the ‘credit card roulette’, where the rookies have to put their credit cards out on the table and one is chosen to pay for a deliberately very expensive meal for the veterans. Pittsburgh Steelers veteran Cameron Heyward made sure his little brother Connor had his turn to foot the bill, he said on the latest episode of his Not Just Football podcast.
During an interview with former Pro Bowl edge rusher Shawne Merriman discussing ‘welcome to the NFL’ moments, his guest recalled being charged for not one but three Louis XIII bottles of cognac. Some very preliminary research indicates that today a single bottle can easily fetch a few million, though it was likely cheaper in 2005. Connor didn’t get to pay 2005 prices though.
“I had my little brother on the team this past year, and I’m like, ‘Bro, you know you’re gonna have to buy a bottle’, and he was like, ‘A bottle of what?’”, he recalled. “’I’m like, ‘A Louis XIII bottle’, and he’s like, ‘Inform me. Expand on that’. I’m like, ‘No. You’ll just find out when we get there’”.
Merriman actually didn’t meet that comment with perhaps the sort of good humor Heyward may have hoped for—whether or not teams should even make rookies buy anything expensive has been a debate for some years now. But, Heyward said, “He’s my little brother. I had to”. And he added, “I got him a discount”.
Connor also has a brother who makes pretty decent money if he should ever have to borrow any. The rookie sixth-round draft pick himself pocketed a total of $860,224 during his rookie season, with a $705,000 base salary and a $155,224 signing bonus in his slotted draft position. A $3-4000 bottle of liquor will put a little dent in that, but he would still manage to make ends meet.
The younger Heyward is due to earn another nearly $3 million over the course of the final three years of his rookie contract, and perhaps in 2023 he will be drinking from the Louis XIII instead of paying for it. But nobody likes to foot the bill.
Even when you have an older brother who has already pocketed just about $100 million over the course of his career and still has another $32 million or so coming to him over the course of the next two seasons. That’ll get you good and drunk no matter how expensive the liquor is.