Martin And Incognito
February 20, 2014
There was some tough reading within the National Football League’s report on bullying that occurred in the Miami Dolphins locker room. The investigation found that several teammates, led by Richard Incognito, serially harassed offensive lineman Jonathan Martin. Summarizing the report seems to have led all to believe that the Miami locker room was a perverse workplace. A workplace that tolerated and celebrated demeaning behavior, including homophobia, racism, and misogyny.
According to the report, Martin’s sister was mentioned during a string of five text messages, sent by Incognito on Jan. 6, 2013, that insulted him with homo phobic language and referred to Martin’s sister in sexually graphic terms. Incognito would also make jokes about slavery in Martin’s presence, and Martin would be teased for not being “black enough.”
The report and text messages from Martin within the report suggests that Martin was haunted by his own inaction to the harassment. In other words, he eventually broke down from his own response and the increasing frequency of the harassment upon his inactivity.
Though I still hear many say he should have fought his foes (report says Incognito was not acting alone - he had two accomplices), I have spoken in these pages of how that was not the answer. Let me tell you why.
People have said that the harassment may have stopped had Martin used his 6’5” 300 pound frame to body slam the bullies. But, let’s be honest for a second and think about it. Had Martin snapped and slugged the white Incognito, he would have gone from not “black enough” to the angriest black man in a fraction of a second. Martin would have been the subject of endless racially biased columns and tweets calling him a “thug.” This would have been followed by the moral police calling for the league to make an example out of Martin by ending his career.
We have a recent example of this from Seattle Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman. And his behavior was a verbal barrage, not a physical explosion. America flipped out after Sherman, following an emotional game, went on a rant against San Francisco 49er’s wide receiver Michael Crabtree. The result was that Sherman was slammed by critics and reduced to a thug who tarnished the NFL’s image.
In reality, Sherman, like Martin, is a Stanford graduate. How many of those who called Sherman a thug knew he spends his spare time lecturing the value of education to inner-city kids and offering materials and supplies for impoverished schools.
Seahawks’ Richard Sherman
His resume and unselfish acts did not protect him from prejudice, and he was immediately assumed to be a violent degenerate, with critics overlooking a lifetime of hard work, sacrifice, and generosity.
How can one not see that if Martin retaliated, which he had every right to do, he would have been similarly smeared and raked though the coals as a troublemaker?
Searching for answers, Martin suggested that the “mostly soft schools” he attended were responsible for his inaction. “I suppose it’s white private school conditioning, turning the other cheek,” offered the contemplative Stanford graduate.
I am sure Martin knows the following facts regarding race. African-Americans are incarcerated at a rate of nearly six times the rate of whites. One in three black males can expect to serve time in prison at some time in their lives. Knowing this has led Martin to knowing that turning the other cheek is the intelligent thing to do. I do not see Martin as a coward. His lack of action took significantly more courage than resorting to violence. On some level, Martin knew that his choice was to take the abuse or fight back and be vilified as a “punk” in the national media.
Martin had no good options and wisely chose not to stoop to Incognito’s infantile level. He should not feel any shame. Sometimes restraint is the manliest action one can take. Punching the lights out of his teammates would have been temporarily satisfying, but might have tarnished his image and destroyed his career.
Prior to the report, I did feel he could have notified his coaches. It turns out that he did and nothing was done. And the coaches who knew are still employed by the Dolphins. And the NFL has yet to announce its punishment to Incognito and Co.
Personally, I am rooting for Miami to continue its long-time mediocrity and for the NFL to suspend Incognito for life.
All-Star weekend came and went for the NBA last weekend. Now that the unofficial second half of the season begins, here are some questions to ponder within the Association.
Will there be a flurry of trades as teams attempt to make a run at a title or prepare for a deep draft this summer? We will find out on Thursday as the deadline hits.
Like I spoke of last week, will teams start tanking games in order to get a higher draft pick. It appears that Boston and Milwaukee are already doing so.
Out West, can Portland and Phoenix keep up their surprising start? What the Suns are doing is quite amazing. Few can name more than one or two of their players. More cannot name any. Staying out West, can the Los Angeles Clippers make a run at a Conference title? First-year coach Doc Rivers gives this team instant credibility. Though I do not see anyone beating Oklahoma City out west. Kevin Durant is playing better then ever. He gets a quiet 30 points virtually every night out. Can the Indiana Pacers supplant Miami in the East? LeBron will have to reach yet another level, I believe, for the Heat to withstand the Pacers.
Yes, you heard it here. Indiana vs. Oklahoma City in the Finals. Though a great deal can happen between now and June.