Meridian Star

Z_CNHI News Service

November 12, 2013

Investigation should shed light on bullying scandal in Miami

It’s difficult to make much sense of the actions in the Miami Dolphins locker room because it’s a culture most of us don’t understand and can’t comprehend.

The players are different from us: They’re bigger, faster, richer, more celebrated, more condemned, more confident, more insecure than the couple down the street or the person who sits across from us at work.

We know them, but they don’t know us.

That leads us to people like Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin. Both are big, imposing men. Incognito stands 6-foot-3, 319 pounds. Martin, equally imposing at 6-5, 312 pounds. 

Is one a bully? Was one bullied? 

At first, their size doesn’t seem to fit the stereotype of a bully, one where a bigger person picks on a smaller one. Yet, bullying is as much a mental attack as it is physical.  Assessing blame is hard to determine. Besides, how can someone on the outside tell what’s happening inside a team complex? You can’t.

But that’s not the case with Miami Dolphins. It’s the responsibility of everyone from the team president to the general manager to the coach to know what’s happening on their property. That was not the case.

Now someone is going to pay the price. There’s a jocularity around a locker room; it’s part of the team-building process. But if you read from the heavily-edited electronic exchanges between Incognito and Martin, it’s clear there was an ugliness and a message of disrespect that has no place in civil society or a competitive business environment.

This latest episode comes at a time when the National Football League is ill-prepared to confront another public relations debacle. Concussion issues have both immediate and long-range implications. The NFL doesn’t test for Human Growth Hormones, yet its players are behemoths. Players getting arrested are a reoccurring story across the league, none worse than the murder charge former New England star Aaron Hernandez is facing.

Now this. 

Ted Wells, a New York lawyer with experience in investigating troubling sports issues, has been hired by the NFL to figure out what happened in Miami. Commissioner Roger Goodell would like an explanation as promptly as possible, but thoroughness is more important than expediency. "Consistent with doing a thorough investigation, we have not imposed a specific timetable on him," Goodell said in a release issued by the league.

Pro football seems to celebrate the notion that the game has evolved into a “violent” sport until something goes wrong. Selling violence as a product is illogical.

The language exchanged by Incognito and Martin does speak to a violent, out-of-control culture. Incognito’s texts are racist and damaging, even if he tries to pass them off as friendly banter.

I remember the first time I got close to a pro football field as the game’s final minutes wound down. Two impressions remain from that experience: One, the players were bigger and faster than I ever imagined; secondly, I have never heard such profanity in my life – constant and obscene.

That insight into the pro game may have been anecdotal but it also was insightful. Pro sports at that level require an extreme mental and physical toughness. If you don’t have both, you won’t stick around in the NFL for very long. You learn to play aggressively or you stop getting a paycheck.

Incognito’s reputation has long been associated with charges of threats and intimidation. He had problems at Nebraska that led to a suspension and then he transferred to Oregon where he never officially joined the team.

"There's certain people out there who are just punks, and he wants to be that kind of guy," former Seahawks and Lions defensive end Lawrence Jackson told the Associated Press.

Martin was more passive – a trait not conducive to being an offensive lineman in the NFL. His aloofness didn’t win over other players and coaches, leading them to question his commitment. In the end, maybe he left the Dolphins because the game wasn’t fun.

In time, the NFL’s New York attorney, hopefully, will offer some clarity to this bizarre story.

Then again perhaps Incognito and Martin are simply misfits in a league that has lost sight of its mission.

Wait and see.

Tom Lindley is a sports columnist for the CNHI News Service. Reach him at tlindley@cnhi.com.

1
Text Only
Z_CNHI News Service
  • Affirmative action ruling challenges colleges seeking diversity

    The U.S. Supreme Court's support of Michigan's ban on race-based affirmative action in university admissions may spur colleges to find new ways to achieve diversity without using racial preferences.

    April 23, 2014

  • A 'wearable robot' helps her walk again

    Science is about facts, numbers, laws and formulas. To be really good at it, you need to spend a lot of time in school. But science is also about something more: dreaming big and helping people.

    April 23, 2014

  • Cuba is running out of condoms

    The newest item on Cuba's list of dwindling commodities is condoms, which are now reportedly in short supply. In response, the Cuban government has approved the sale of expired condoms.

    April 23, 2014

  • The waffle taco's biggest enemy isn't McDonald's. It's consumer habits.

    Gesturing to Taco Bell, Thompson said McDonald's had "not seen an impact relative to the most recent competitor that entered the [breakfast] space," and that new competition would only make McDonald's pursue breakfast more aggressively.

    April 23, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 4.42.47 PM.png VIDEO: Leopard attacks crowd in India

    A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 22, 2014

  • In cuffs... 'Warlock' in West Virginia accused of sexual assault

    Police in West Virginia say a man claiming to be a “warlock” used promises of magical spells to lure children into committing sexual acts with him.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Basketball stars may linger on campus a while longer

    The NBA seems serious about raising its minimum age, which could signal the end of the one-and-done era in college basketball.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cats outsmart the researchers

    I knew a lot had been written about dogs, and I assumed there must be at least a handful of studies on cats. But after weeks of scouring the scientific world for someone - anyone - who studied how cats think, all I was left with was this statement, laughed over the phone to me by one of the world's top animal cognition experts, a Hungarian scientist named Ádám Miklósi.

    April 22, 2014

  • McCain 1 House Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats

    Your representative in the House is almost certainly on Twitter. Your senator definitely is. But how are they using the social network? Are Democrats more active than Republicans, or vice versa? Who has the most followers on the Hill?

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

Biz Marquee
New Today
Poll

Mississippi could borrow $20 million to help Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. update its factory in Tupelo. In return the company would pledge to maintain at least 1,300 jobs and invest $140 million in the plant. Do you think this is a good investment on the state's part?

Yes
No
     View Results
Facebook
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
SKorea Ferry Toll Hits 156, Search Gets Tougher Video Shows Possible Syrian Gas Attack Cubs Superfans Celebrate Wrigley's 100th Raw: Cattle Truck Overturns in Texas Admirers Flock to Dole During Kansas Homecoming Raw: Erupting Volcanoes in Guatemala and Peru Alibaba IPO Could Be Largest Ever for Tech Firm FBI Joining Probe of Suburban NY 'Swatting' Call U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide