Blaming Jonathan Martin speaks volumes about NFL culture

By
Updated: November 7, 2013
Making NFL rookies carry the pads of their veteran teammates is fine. Threatening to kill them is not.

Making NFL rookies carry the pads of their veteran teammates is fine. Threatening to kill them is not.

Playful hazing of rookies is a time-honored tradition in the NFL. Rookies are forced to carry veterans’ pads throughout training camp, receive whacky haircuts from teammates, and have harmless pranks done to them.

These can be fun team-building activities and — as Minnesota Vikings defensive end  — can serve as a good way to remind rookies that they have not yet arrived but rather are starting over at the bottom of the totem pole.

Over the line

But hazing can be taken too far.

When hazing advances to the point where it’s no longer fun and playful, it becomes harassment and even outright abuse.

That is what seems to have happened in Miami, where second-year tackle Jonathan Martin recently left the team after claiming he was abused by veteran guard Richie Incognito.

Jonathan Martin left the Miami Dolphins after receiving death threats from Richie Incognito.

Jonathan Martin left the Miami Dolphins after receiving death threats from Richie Incognito.

The evidence against Incognito appears fairly cut and dried. A  has gone public in which Incognito, who is white, uses racist insults against Martin, who is black — and on top of that, threatens to kill him.

This voicemail is surely not an isolated incident. It was left for Martin last summer, and Martin did not walk out on the team until late October. Incognito is accused of to hunt down members of his family and harm them.

It all , when Martin reportedly sat down at a table — only to see all his teammates get up and go elsewhere. Martin stormed out of the room and has not been back for over a week now. Instead, he .

Backing the bully

Unsurprisingly, many people around the NFL are speaking out on this issue. What surprises and disgusts me is how many are defending Richie Incognito over Jonathan Martin.

The Miami Herald reports that rather than Martin. New York Giants safety rather than putting a stop to it himself. Various (anonymously, of course, because they’re too cowardly to put their name to that statement) for failing to stand up to Incognito.

We the fans are being treated to a glimpse into the machismo culture of the NFL, and I for one do not like what I see.

Players are taught to police themselves and settle things on their own, but Martin cannot be faulted for running away here. Incognito, after all, has a .

Given what Dolphins players are saying right now, Martin is probably safe in assuming his teammates would side with Incognito over him if it came down to a physical confrontation. Football players have a career that puts them at risk of physical harm and injury on a daily basis, but nobody should have to work in an environment where they believe their coworkers are intentionally trying to hurt them and their loved ones.

Despite a long history as a troublemaker and instigator, NFL players and executives are defending Richie Incognito.

Despite a long history as a troublemaker and instigator, NFL players and executives are defending Richie Incognito.

Obviously, none of us has been in that locker room, so none of us knows the full story. But I do not need to be there everyday to listen to that voicemail and know it has gone far beyond what should ever be considered acceptable.

Any player who blames Jonathan Martin for allowing this to happen quite frankly is an idiot, and any executive who agrees that should lose his job on the spot.

Enabling the bully

I know the NFL cultivates a tough-guy culture and running away doesn’t fit in with that, but this isn’t just some minor hazing we’re talking about. This is a serious verbal assault of a nature that may very well constitute a hate crime.

Martin would have been well within his rights to immediately take that voicemail to the police last summer, but instead he chose to put up with the maltreatment for several more months.

Blaming the victim rather than the bully only perpetuates the bullying culture. It is not the responsibility of the victim to put a forcible stop to bullying; rather, it is the duty of those in authority to quash aggression before it escalates to violence.

Wrong message

What’s most troubling about this situation is that athletes are supposed to be role models for the youth of this country, many of whom idolize these men as heroes.

Bullying is already prevalent among American youth. Young people are singled out based on their sexual preference, physical appearance, or any number of other reasons. Bullying drives far too many teenagers to despair and even, tragically, to suicide. How dare these professional football players stoop to blaming the victims rather than the perpetrators!

They are sending the message bullying is acceptable until the victim makes you stop. So that skinny little nerd with glasses on the bus who would have no chance against you in a fight is fair game. After all, it’s his fault, not yours!

Rather than criticizing Martin for running away, his peers should applaud him for making a smart decision. Sometimes the best choice is to go to the authorities instead of trying to handle something on one’s own. Martin found himself in one of those situations, correctly identified it, and took action.

Jonathan Martin should be commended, not condemned, for his courage.

NFL players are sending a message right now that bullying is ok.

NFL players are sending a message that bullying is okay.

(Update: since this article was written, it has come to my attention that some Dolphins players claim the and Martin shared it with his teammates while laughing about it. If true, this obviously changes the tenor of the story. But many of the comments which blame Martin, including Antrel Rolle’s, were made before this came to light, so the overall theme still applies. These players were blaming the victim, not the bully, and that is sending the absolute wrong message.)

About the author(s)

Johnathan Wood is a passionate fan of the Chicago Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, Cubs, and Northwestern Wildcats. He enjoys being the beat writer for the Bears at Water Cooler Sports and being obnoxiously unapologetic about how his favorite teams are more awesome than yours. Feel free to email him at if you have any comments or suggestions. Connect with .

1874 comments
cd me
cd me

our horses are like family :)

cd me
cd me

family pic day? 

G & G
G & G

Who deleted agent Scully?

rocketman6969
rocketman6969

My daughter, so happy she's been sleeping through the night since she was 2 months old.

bp.
bp. moderator

New post.

Also, Woody linked this on facebook, and is getting traffic from his family.  Ergo, I am here to moderate you kids so that our broader audience doesn't tell the FBI.  

AndyLet445
AndyLet445

I'll be back in a few to post random pics of random people.  

Childerz...
Childerz...

idk what possessed me to do dis.. but this my wife and my daughter. 

MIBearFan
MIBearFan moderator

  

Is that SJP in the middle?

G & G
G & G

 Yes, the last post deleted was SDL's daughters

MIBearFan
MIBearFan moderator

 

Yes. I'm starting a file, so I can threaten you and extort money later.

cd me
cd me

 is this your daughter? lol

bp.
bp. moderator

 Damn you SDL.  I don't want to have to moderate a fellow doctor.

bp.
bp. moderator

 *raises hand*

I explained it below.  I almost didn't delete that one, since it wasn't all that racy.

bp.
bp. moderator

 I won't delete this one.

Childerz...
Childerz...

  God that makes it so nice when they sleep through the night 

Donny33
Donny33

 to the new article!

bp.
bp. moderator

 She looks great.  She will disappear in five fap seconds.

MIBearFan
MIBearFan moderator

 

The bowl on the edge of the couch is freaking me out. I want to jump over there and grab it before it spills.

Childerz...
Childerz...

 ohhhh they are the ones in Phoenix 

Childerz...
Childerz...

  VINTAGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I likey 

G & G
G & G

 She's gorgeous!!

thenichels
thenichels

 Need to see the results of the paternity test to believe you.

G & G
G & G

  I'm waiting...

bp.
bp. moderator

  Yeah, I don't normally wield my hammer, but Woody deserves his article to be mom friendly.

Childerz...
Childerz...

  yes her eyes are enormous.. she's also growing at fast rate.. she'll be 11months old on the 26th of this month and she's already 32" tall 

G & G
G & G

 Stop it!!!!

Childerz...
Childerz...

 i'm convinced the Schwan's guy is the dad. 

Childerz...
Childerz...

 I was bamboozled by the couch.. it looks comfy as all hell  but it sucks giant dick. 

bp.
bp. moderator

   Its done....

Childerz...
Childerz...

  Yeah i'm sure she'll plane off at some point... but she's already only about 5 inches shorter than her 3 year old cousin. 

Ted Thompson Did Nothing Wrong
Ted Thompson Did Nothing Wrong

My son was like that for a while, then he totally leveled off and now the doctors are wondering why he's a little short for his age. I am sure he'll spurt up again.

Donny33
Donny33

  murder suicide with Hillary?

Childerz...
Childerz...

 Hopefully by then Bill Clinton will be dead. 

AndyLet445
AndyLet445

  "Let me know when she's 18."

-Bill Clinton

AndyLet445
AndyLet445

  it'll be like a creamsicle.  

Childerz...
Childerz...

  I know and you can't bleach them