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The Denver Broncos offensive linemen prefer not to talk to the media, in a tradition that goes back to the late 1990s. Weekly dinners also are a tradition at most teams with each lineman taking his turn picking up the check all in the name of building the bonds crucial to winning in the trenches.

In Miami, that led to questioning players’ sexuality, family heritage and ethnicity, according to a report ordered by the NFL.

Kevin Mawae, who played 16 seasons with Seattle, the New York Jets and the Titans, said a strong leader can nip jokes early to stop someone from crossing the line. The former president of the NFL Players Association also said the union’s role is ensuring a fair and safe work environment across the league and that a situation never should get to the point where the union gets involved.

“The team and the coach should have a pulse of what’s going on in the locker room,” Mawae said. “The greatest coaches do, and they control the message in their locker room. They control the environment. The teams that struggle don’t, or the coaches turn a blind eye or are ignorant to what’s going on, and that’s unfortunate.”

But it’s not uncommon for players to settle their own disagreements.

Frank Garcia, who played nine seasons in the NFL, said he witnessed a fistfight in 1998 between Panthers offensive linemen Blake Brockermeyer and Norberto Davidds-Garrido just minutes before the start of a game.

Garcia said Davidds-Garrido had taken offense to a joke by Brockermeyer, and all of sudden two 300-pounders were trading punches and wrestling on the floor.

“It was like King Kong and Godzilla going at it,” Garcia recalls.

A large chalkboard used by the offensive line for game planning was snapped in half before teammates separated them.

Garcia said things were fine between the two men after the altercation.

Davidds-Garrido, unlike Martin in Miami, decided to fight back - just as he did in training camp in 1997 when he punched Kerry Collins in the eye after Carolina’s then-starting quarterback allegedly used a racial slur.

“A lot of times guys make jokes about another guy’s wife, girlfriend or even sexual orientation,” Garcia said. “And most of the time it’s just in good fun. But you have to understand when you push a guy too far, or you’ve crossed the line, and it’s time to pull back.”