Many words have already been written and spoken about the alleged bizarre bullying case between Miami Dolphins teammates since the story broke a couple weeks ago. Part of the reason this narrative exploded onto national headlines was the notion this incident encapsulated many important issues in America: workplace environment, bullying and racism among them.
Frankly I think that’s a lazy correlation. Do people not realize that the NFL itself is tantamount to intentional, glorified and violent combat? It’s where gladiators gather on the holiest day of the week to smack and gouge their colleagues to the fanfare of thousands and record TV ratings. Grooming these individuals to earn a living as savages prevents many of them from fully adjusting to a “normal” life outside the gridiron. Among the more grisly details of off-the-field behavior gone wrong: Michael Irvin once jammed a pair of scissors into a teammate’s neck. Ray Lewis’ white tuxedo is still missing. The unrest in Pittsburgh over Ben Roethlisberger has everything to do with his poor play and not his sketchy history with women. And let’s not minimize the rampant drug and alcohol abuse amongst NFL players. Yet Incognito remains a convenient piñata for pndits.
Granted the use of the N-word, threatening calls and excessive hazing are not acceptable. Richie Incognito’s immediate NFL career has suffered as a result and his future remains cloudy. Yet I can’t help shake the feeling that Richie is excessively railroaded for being a shitty person. And then there’s Jonathan Martin’s role in all this. What was his role? It would nice to get specific details from the man himself rather than statements from his lawyer. Regardless of the investigation’s outcome Martin will also struggle to find a spot on a NFL roster as many teams will decide the media distractions supersede any potential usefulness.
Instead of discussing this story I wish there was more conversation directed toward the NFL for attempting to shove more Thursday night games into an inevitable 18-game schedule. Here’s an example where not one man but an entire league has mentally disabled, physically crippled and emotionally damaged other players.