Friday, November 8, 2013

Bully For Them

We take a break from our regularly scheduled predictions to bring you a very important message:

Bullying sucks. Bullies suck. People who let Bullies Bully are cowards.

With that in mind, I give you the 2013 Miami Dolphins!!

When word came out that the Miami Dolphins’ young offensive lineman, Jonathan Martin, had left the team because he was being harassed and bullied by fellow lineman Richie Incognito, the responses were predictable. The few who thought it was ridiculous that a grown man was bullying another grown man were drowned out by the majority who felt that Incognito was trying to make a man out of Martin and only real men play football and therefore Martin must not have been a real man and he needed to be toughened up. Apparently, you toughen people up by calling them names and telling them you’re going to kill them.

The Dolphins immediately suspended Incognito indefinitely and put on the reserve/non-football injury list. Neither will play again for Miami this season.

The Dolphins coaching staff/front office claimed they had no idea this was going on, but there are also reports that they told Incognito to toughen Martin up. There are also reports that Martin went to GM Jeff Ireland, who allegedly told Martin he needed to punch Incognito.

Dolphin teammates rushed to the defense of…Incognito, saying they had no problem with him (a white guy) calling Martin (a black guy), the N-word, before falling into the “we’re just concentrating on football” line of defense.

Former teammates rushed to the defense of…Martin, saying that a) the Dolphins absolutely knew what was going on and 2) Incognito is a jackass.

Analysts used Martin’s Stanford education and Harvard-educated parents as reasons why he doesn’t fit into an NFL locker room. I can’t decide if that’s more insulting to Martin or the other guys in the locker room. Also, I have no idea how that leads to Martin getting bullied.

There are so many things that bother me about this story, I don’t even know where to begin. Let’s start with this idea that in order to “toughen someone up,” you need to harass and bully them. Say what? Didn’t that idea die out in the 50s and 60s? By the way, both decades called: they want the way they raised their sons back. Where else in today’s world does anyone think this is a good strategy?

Why did anyone think that Martin needed to be tougher? He started for four years at Stanford, a team that year in and year out played “smash-mouth football.” Two of those years he played under head coach Jim Harbaugh, who seems pretty tough. He even yells at little kids! I don’t know about you, but I’m confident in saying Harbaugh wouldn’t accept anything but toughness from his players.

What kind of sick mind thinks it’s ok to treat someone the way Incognito was treating Martin? Please note: the sick mind is not only that of Incognito’s but also anyone on the Dolphins who felt that his actions were necessary and/or beneficial to Martin. All of these “big, strong, tough” men didn’t have the balls to say to Incognito, “hey leave that guy alone.”

And kudos to the absolute moron who decided that Incognito, a guy who has had numerous off field issues, who is currently with his third team in eight years, would be good to have on the Dolphins’ player leadership council. At that point, you’re just asking for trouble, which you received, so job well done.

This might sound simple but apparently it’s way too complex for the Dolphins: we’re all different. Different people respond to different things in different ways. Perhaps some players like getting yelled at, maybe that’s what works for them to get fired up on the football field. Other players just like quiet solitude, alone with their thoughts, getting their minds on the task at hand.

I’ve never met Jonathan Martin, but the people on TV tell me he’s quiet. I guess that was one of the factors that led to him being bullied. I get the sense that he didn’t feel he needed to be pushed and bullied around to become “tough.” He was tough already, but because he didn’t fit in with what the Dolphins perceived “tough” looks like, he needed to be toughened up. For the Dolphins, making their players tougher is a “one size fits all” method, which as we all know is how the real world operates. Everyone gets motivated the same way, right? No? Oh.

Look, I know it’s hard to stop someone from bullying others. We tend to let bullies get away with bullying because we don’t want them to turn their attentions on us. Much easier to let them pick on somebody else. I have been bullied, and I have bullied. And even if I wasn’t the one actively bullying, I didn’t stop those who were bullying, and that makes me a bully by association. I don’t really think about the times when I was bullied. I do, however, think about the times where I was the bully, either actively or passively. To this day, it bothers me that I wasn’t strong enough to stop people from bullying others.

I might not have been strong enough to stand up to bullies, but Jonathan Martin was. After being harassed and threatened and pushed around, he had enough. He was man enough to do something about it. That’s why, for my money, the toughest player on that Miami Dolphins team is currently on the reserved/non-football injury list.

NOTE: The best article written on this situation was by Brian Phillips for Grantland. Read it. After you read mine, of course.

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