The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

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
  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Expectations too high for a rehabbing Woods

    Tiger Woods finished near bottom last weekend at Royal Liverpool, drawing out his drought of major tournament wins. Despite the disappointing showing, Woods' return to form remains a matter of when, not if.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072214 Diamond Llama 1.jpg Llama on the loose corralled in Missouri town

    A llama on the lam cruised Main Street Tuesday before it mistook a resident’s fenced backyard for a place to grab a meal and freshen up.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • An oncologist uses scorpion venom to locate cancer cells

    Olson, a pediatric oncologist and research scientist in Seattle, has developed a compound he calls Tumor Paint. When injected into a cancer patient, it seems to light up all the malignant cells so surgeons can easily locate and excise them.

    July 22, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 2.00.42 PM.png VIDEO: Train collides with semi truck carrying lighter fluid

    A truck driver from Washington is fortunate to be alive after driving his semi onto a set of tracks near Somerset, Ky., and being struck by a locomotive, which ignited his load of charcoal lighter fluid.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • mama.jpg What we get wrong about millennials living at home

    If the media is to be believed, America is facing a major crisis. "Kids," some age 25, 26, or even 30 years old, are living out of their childhood bedrooms and basements at alarmingly high numbers. The hand-wringing overlooks one problem: It's all overblown.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 21, 2014

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 21, 2014

  • Starved Pennsylvania 7-year-old weighed only 25 pounds

    A 7-year-old Pennsylvania boy authorities described as being so underweight he looked like a human skeleton has been released from the hospital.

    July 21, 2014

  • Sparring justices find little disagreement at the opera

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg revealed a different view of U.S. Supreme Court on Saturday when she described about her passion for opera, one she shares with Justice Antonin Scalia.

    July 21, 2014

  • Malaysians wonder 'Why us?' after second loss of airline jet

    It was all too familiar. Grieving families rushing to airport. The flashing television graphics of a plane's last radar appearance. The uncomfortable officials before a heavy thicket of microphones.
    For many Malaysians, the disappearance of Flight 370 in March has been a long trauma from which the nation has not yet recovered.

    July 18, 2014

Featured Ads
Promotions
Poll

What's been the primary cause of the Texas Rangers' poor first half of the 2014 baseball season?

Too many injuries
The loss of Nolan Ryan in the front office
Questionable decisions by general manager Jon Daniels
On-field decisions by manager Ron Washington
Key players just aren't producing
All of the above
     View Results
Facebook
Must Read
Photos


See more photos and purchase prints here.

AP Video
Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Bush: Don't Worry, Sugarland Isn't Breaking Up US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

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