The Miami Dolphins have not experienced this much off the field controversy ever. The NFL franchise has always prided itself on being a model organization, spending lots of money on personnel profiling. So it was shocking to hear the news that Jonathan Martin quit the team because he couldn’t handle the hazing and bullying his teammates, especially Richie Incognito, put him through. Now I am not saying Incognito was right for allegedly calling Martin a “half-n—-r” and other nasty ephitets, but in the NFL you better have a tough skin to play the game.
Football is a gladiator sport and only men play it. Its killed or be killed. Guys are fighting for their professional lives every day. They have to beat the opposing player on every play because they know their are guys on their team competing to take their sport away. In the case of Incognito, he’s been playing alongside Martin for quite some time. Those dudes on the offensive line need to have a relationship because they are joined at the hip. So when you have a young player like Martin, who was getting beat on plays a lot, it’s only natural for an older player like Incognito to ride his ass. It’s like a big brother abusing his little brother. The players keep each other in check. And usually the coaching staff doesn’t know about it.
Usually, young players take the abuse because it is part of football. But Martin is cut from a different mold. He is a very smart articulate young man who went to Stanford. His parents are true professionals. If he had picked Harvard over Stanford, he would have been the third generation member of his family to go to the prestigious Ivy League School. That’s why he kept phone records of what was happening to him in the Dolphins locker room. Instead of standing up and fighting on his own, he built up evidence to file a complaint with the NFL and the Miami Dolphins.
Right now there is a public campaign, supported by the government, to stop bullying. It’s the evil buzzword of the moment. It’s almost like pulling the race card. That’s why Martin’s complaint seems planned, almost coerced. NFL hazing is nothing new. Hell, they show vets hazing rookies on HBO’s Hard Knocks series all the time.
The problem with Martin is that he didn’t stand up to Icognito, who it seems didn’t think his teammate had been hazed enough. At some point you have to man up in a football locker room. You are in a situation where dudes are walking around looking at each other’s nether regions to see who has the biggest cock and biggest set of nuts.
It’s like prison. There is alaways some dude who is going to try another guy who appears weak. Now, everybody — from the sports pundits to the Dolphins front office — are saying the politically correct thing: that Incognito was wrong. This is what happens when the nice guys go get their lawyers or their agents involved.
But none of this would matter if Martin had just put his dukes up. At the end of the day, a fight won’t last more than a few seconds because your teammates will break it up. However, the mere fact the player showed some fight is important. That would have squashed it.
The sad part is that the head coach and position coordinators and assistant coaches did not address the problem. Obviously the tension between Incognito and Martin has been going on for a long time. This young man had left the team before because of similar complaints. The other sad part about it is that none of their teammates stepped up to stop the abuse. Where were the team captains? I keep remembering when I was watching the Dolphins on Hard Knocks last pre-season with Reggie Bush and other players coming to the head coach, Joe Philbin.
He had a very dismissive attitude, like he didn’t care about his players and their feelings.
Now, the Dolphins are in the middle of a soap opera.
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