I'm actually a little surprised this hasn't been brought up around these parts already.  What are your thoughts on the Richie Incognito/ Jonathan Martin "bullying" scandal on the Dolphins Offensive Line?

For the few that haven't heard the story ... Dolphins Offensive Lineman Jonathan Martin left the team last week and checked himself into the hospital for "emotional distress" because he was being "bullied" by fellow offensive lineman Richie Incognito (cool name).

Here are a couple of articles on the subject ... the first was written by a former fellow Dolphins offensive lineman, who comes down fairly squarely on Incognito's side ...


The second and third articles are more as a counterpoint ...



My first thought when I heard it last week was that Incognito was probably over-the-line -- though not quite as bad as the media let on -- and that Martin needed to grow a pair and stand up for himself.  Its a football locker room.  You're a grown 300 lb, 6'4" man.  Just punch him in the mouth.  There's no way this was actual "bullying", even if he was over-the-line.

As I'm hearing more about this, I'm not even sure Incognito was over-the-line at all, with the exception of dropping racial epithets that ought be avoided.  Incognito's probably a tough-guy asshole ... but, he's paid to be a tough-guy asshole.  And, as the leader of the offensive line, he's paid to teach weaker teammates how to be a better tough-guy asshole.  It seems Martin was pretty soft, fragile, and not all that good a teammate.  It is awfully telling that the entirety of Incognito's team has come to his defense (including the black guys).



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I'm inclined to side with Martin, in part because I think the value of shit-talking asshole-ness to being a tough guy (and part of a group of tough guys) is being overrated.  Not all men are going to bluster or swagger, even if they're competing intensely.  Compete on the field, but constant trash-talking and dick-swinging off of it doesn't make anyone more manly.

I don't think the soft guy should have been on the team. I don't think the tougher guys are prepared to deal with that softness. Decency suggests that they should succor the weak even as they humiliate the strong, but angry people are seldom decent. I don't know what's wrong with that soft guy: Why does he try to be an NFL player? Somebody should have noticed that he doesn't belong & thrown him out--it would have been a mercy. Some guy suggested this was done under coach oversight; that seems believable, & they seem most responsible to me. Now, back to the tougher guys--the reason for the trash-talking seems to be this: If you are not screamingly vulgar, you're not going to make it with those people. It might be the best they've got by way of team cohesion. I don't see the point in destroying that. It shows a disregard for reasonable things which is necessary when taking punishment. It also fosters a kind of shamelessness that emphasizes that shame should really be aimed at team cohesion.

If possible, football players should not shout at people who are suffering mental breakdowns, even if they are big, strong, young players; but I don't see that changing. Moral crusades about bullying in America--isn't one in the making lately?--are a sign of cowardice, not awareness of the problem... It would be far easier to make an example of the greatest teams. If they do it without the screaming vulgarity, that will impress players far more than a hounding in the press.

Also, the notion that between scatological jokes & racist jokes the race ones are the real offender has me in stitches. Americans really are obsessed...

I like the Grantland article, though. That guy know his business & strikes me as uninterested in flattery.

I lean towards the Incognito side.

At what point do we stop with this whole bullshit notion of being scare of bullies and calling them out and making laws and lawsuits and other crap vs just beating the shit out of the bully or even just ignoring them or even realizing that in some times and some places and some professions you have to have a thick skin and be tough enough to take some crap.

Reminds me of everyone crying that Johnny Football wasn't a saint off the field. Well no shit, he is loved because he is unconditional on the field, that is who he is.

When I saw the headline, I immediately thought:  you're in the NFL.  Isn't there anybody in our society who doesn't need protection?  Are we all infants?

Then I read what happened.  


Hey, wassup, you half-[N word] piece of shit. I saw you on Twitter, you been training 10 weeks. [I want to] shit in your fucking mouth. [I'm going to] slap your fucking mouth. [I'm going to] slap your real mother across the face [laughter]. Fuck you, you're still a rookie. I'll kill you.

I think I'd have turned that death threat over to the cops.

Including:  hacking into Martin's FB account.  OTOH, I saw the video exchange on this (it's short), and it was merely rude and shaming, not threatening:  http://deadspin.com/report-richie-incognito-played-main-role-in-bul...  

Media refer to the comment about the mother as threatening to track down and commit violence against family; the "tracking down" seems to be a journalist's invention.  (At least, I can't find evidence of another threat.)


I simply cannot side with a serial a-hole making a death threat.

Should Martin have handled it better?  Here's what he did that made it news:  when someone, presumably Incognito, got the entire team to ostracize him ( http://deadspin.com/jonathan-martin-leaves-dolphins-after-emotional... ), he left the team.  OK, he threw his tray on the ground; surely if being in the NFL excuses rough manner, throwing a tray on the ground is not "freaking out."  This seems like a normal and appropriate reaction to me.

...and then he checked into a mental health facility.  He checked himself in, rather than being checked in.  Should he have?  That's his private life, and the inside of his skull, about which I don't think we know enough to comment.

Was he soft?  Seems like to me he took a lot of crap before quitting.  He quit when the whole team sided against him.  What should he have done?  Punched them all in the mouth?  Reasoned with them?  Ignored it?  Seems to me when a group collectively shows me the door, I should go.

I suppose there'll be the inevitable lawsuit against the team.  But the management didn't threaten to kill Martin, and allowing adult men to manage their relationships (badly) should not be a crime, surely.  Management may want to intervene to avoid losing players, however, just as the military manages its esprit de corps.

1. If the guy just left & quietly checked in, not call the news, not seek publicity, he really is just soft, I mean without that cult of victimhood liberals have going for them. That seems honest enough.

2. But the death threat--one of the lbs formerly on the team says that sort of thing was not serious, it was just an awful joke. This might even be normal for them. If he is honest that that sort of thing happens regularly on football teams, it's both depressive & non-criminal. (Think about what any decent person might conclude about a city by seeing a homosexual pride parade--it's not normal in any sense, but it happens, so it might just be very misleading...)

3. The guy's softness makes him stand out--unless nobody else (or only some rather small minority) of football players faces this kind of abuse. Otherwise, they just stand out among the general population as a group--I think they like that. Others, do; various associations in college; punks & similar types; I'm fairly sure your armed forces have enough of these groups as well...

Now something about team building.

Why we need a self-appointed a-hole to make a great team.

Because someone like that makes rookies better players?  Ludicrous.  Rookies get better by practice.  They also need confidence; getting the entire team to ostracize you doesn't build confidence.  

Because it him more part of the team?  Again, getting the entire team to ostracize you doesn't make you more part of the team.  Confidence in your team consists of thinking they've got your back, not thinking they want you off and wondering if one's going to assault your mother.


Here's one way that someone like this makes a team stronger in a way.  The whole team (less Martin) was unified in the ostracizing incident.  This is a dynamic I imagine most of us are familiar with:  the group finds a member to reject.  They find unity in rejecting their scapegoat.  I've seen it in grade school and in situations with adult men:  the scapegoat takes on the negatives, and the responsibility for tensions, and for a while, the tensions seem to have gone with him.  

Here's why I don't think it's a good solution:

1) It's unjust.

2) It destroys part of the team, that is, it removes the scapegoat.  Martin wasn't there because he was no good at football.

3) It's temporary.  When the scapegoat's gone and the party's over, whatever negativity exists in the team is still there.  We'll need another scapegoat later.

4) It's unconscious.  The players didn't think they were sacrificing Martin to feel more cohesive; they thought they were being funny.

5) Each man knows at some level, I believe, that he is guilty of persecuting someone for an unjust reason.  (But keeps it unconscious.)  It's not just bad for the soul; it's habit-forming.

6) Just as in high school, you become stronger by being an individual, not by finding a clique in which you can feel you belong.  Or a group of children who throw stones at a vagrant.  (Not something we see in the West now, but it's part of human history.)  We feel stronger in a group, but we aren't really -- until we become strong in our own right as well.

So why do it?

It feels good.


Justice matters whether or not you have a team, so does morality. Think of that guy with his Redskins. Things might start going bad for him even though he bought his team & everybody who is not paying money at all for it might take control over what it's named...

Heh. I'm fairly sure a lot of them would really like that. The losses might not be severe & the job security might be tremendous. It also depends on how badly they want to keep out people who might want to buy or start teams... Of course, I'm not sure anyone will anymore be capable of catching the ball, but on the other hand I'm advised that entering a stadium is turning more into a home visit from the TSA.--The gov't might make it a home visit--every bar where you want to watch a game might have door-screening, as well as your livingroom. This could go places--people would have worse football, but more security running around the place tackling people &, well, tasing them.

Sure, but I don't have to--there's a South Park episode about sarcastoball. Progress knows no sarcasm. & it cannot tackle or block either...

Wise choice. I know people who watch it so I don't have to & I hear about funny stuff now & then. It's rela. They just recently had a good episode on the NSA thing--butters prayer to the Holy Ghost of Mr. Obama is priceless. He converts Jehova's witnesses & such to worshipers at the church of the DMV.

What if he deserved it?

A lot of what you say depends on how good he was. Maybe he was no good for the NFL, or at least the Dolphins, or the '13 Dolphins. How many nr.1 draft picks don't end up anywhere near nr.1 in their position? How many drafted players just aren't good enough? I don't have statistics, I'm not sure I could run them, but you say he must have been good enough--really?

The rest depends on whether he tried to become part of the team. You imply he was morally sound & had done nothing reprehensible or harmful to the team or the team's reasonable expectations in a new player (as opposed to however many unreasonable expectations). But you have no idea what you're talking about--who could know except himself & the other players, & the coaches?

I don't know that he deserved it. But he might have & your assumptions that he didn't are incredibly weak.

I see your point.  We really aren't qualified to comment until we're rich enough to own our own football teams. 


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