This week, it was revealed that Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito was sending threatening messages in a form of hazing & bullying to fellow offensive lineman, tackle Jonathan Martin. The messages are available online and I will not post the message here due to the sensitive nature. Some of the content discussed Incognito calling Martin the N-word, slapping his mother and ending the message with “ill kill you.” What is really the issue here is that many NFL players have not been completely outraged by this situation and almost condon that there is a fraternity that you have to go into to be a member of an NFL team. In my opinion, fraternities should be left at college and are for little boys to go through the hazing to be a part of an organization. The NFL is a billion-dollar corporate power that is quite possibly one of the most powerful entertainment brands in the history of media, and at the core level of this………..we have players being bullied to the point where they have to leave the team due to so much understandable mental anguish?
There is a very fundamental issue here. Why are NFL locker rooms fostering this type of culture when the idea of being on a team and a part of an organization is to become a better player, become a winner and be a role model to members of society?
Why is the league looking at the NFL locker room as a place where it is supposedly acceptable to be a purveyor of unacceptable and lewd behavior where players could be emasculated of their dignity just to become a part of the “team?”
Some may say that Martin should be stronger as an individual and be able to stand up to Incognito and show him essentially who is boss. Martin is no small man being on the offensive line, so from a physical standpoint, there wouldn’t be an issue you wouldn’t think. But what about the mental aspect of it?
We don’t know if Martin, who seems to come from a very affluent family and background, was even taught how handle situations such as this with violence, and if so, even in a fight situation, with the voicemails and messages that were sent to Martin, we have no idea if Incognito could have some of the same traits that former Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez had in him before he allegedly murdered Odin Lloyd.
The NFL has to understand that if this is going on in one locker room, with the culture that is being allowed to sustain, this is also going on in other lockerrooms as well. Such as the bountygate issue with the New Orleans Saints in 2012. It was reported to the league, and after the NFL came down so hard on the Saints for that situation, it was basically taken out of the news and very rarely do you ever hear about that. This has the potential to be an even worse situation in terms of terrible PR for the league if Incognito is allowed to play again for any team.
Other players and fans have said on sportstalk radio stations that they wouldn’t mind having a guy like Incognito on their team for his actual football style. Really? Let’s forget the fact that this man has treated another human being like a piece of shit and apparently has some racial issues, as I have linked in the video in the related articles section. Let’s forget the fact that he has allegedly bullied other people in the team and organization, and let’s not forget that this is the same man who got kicked out of Nebraska and Oregon because of his temper and such, and has bounced around the league because of his deplorable behavior. No, many NFL fans still want him around because he can help the team win.
Richie Incognito can not help your team win. At all. He is a virus to your team and organization, and his track record has said he was from day one, but the NFL has looked past it. Don’t get me wrong, I love the NFL, I love watching the games and there are some amazing people in the league who are great people and have a great heart, but unfortunately, there are too many people like Richie Incognito that embarrass the “shield.”
Even beyond the NFL, as I mentioned earlier, these players have obligations, whether we like it or not, to be role models to children around the United States. Many schools and neighborhoods are dealing with the idea of bullying and how to combat it on a day to day basis. There are children who were not taught with the skills to fight, the skills to have enough confidence in themselves to stand up to someone who may not be in your league physically or psychologically, but by some people in social media supporting Incognito and calling Martin names such as “pussy,” or other disparaging remarks about his sexuality and manhood, what kind of message are we sending to kids? That if they are being bullied they have no answer but to run away and lose their opportunity to do something that actually might give them a chance at happiness because some jackass of a kid is uncomfortable with themselves so they have to take it out on others?
Whether he wants this or not, Roger Goodell has to understand that millions are watching to see what the league does about this situation. The NFL has to stop bullying in its tracks immediately, and no matter what happens, has to enable players to understand that its okay to talk to coaches, general managers and even ownership about this situation. The league has to have a social consciousness about what is going on with the world right now and how important the league and the overall brand of the NFL has on colleges, high schools, elementary schools and lower levels. We simply can’t have people (athletes or not) living in fear of their life and safety for what is happening to them on a mental or physical level.
The people who think that Martin isn’t tough at all because of this situation, guess what………..it takes a tough person to suit up and play any kind of football or sport in general and play it at the highest levels possible, so please stop with that whole thing. The Dolphins empowered this situation to escalate and now they need to be front and center at working with the NFL about educating the public – as well as the players – about how to be professionals and how to have basic human respect.
Sounds like some people need to get back to basics. Immediately.