I was on the WFNY podcast yesterday to talk Richie Incognito, with my post from yesterday as a springboard.
Andrew over at WFNY (Twitter link) wanted to know if this first-hand account of the situation by a former Dolphins player shifted my thinking at all.
I left the following as a comment over there, and thought I’d just port it over here, since lots of words, and expanded thoughts, and etc.
This is a really good article, and thanks for pointing it out.
It’s interesting to me, because as the player is trying to exonerate Incognito, he’s oblivious to the fact that he’s burying the entire game.
I’ll start here, because it’s quick:
…Martin told him the departure had nothing to do with Incognito. Martin said it was something else.
Obviously he said it was something else – victims of bullying are terrified and intimidated by the aggressor.
They don’t have the ability to stand up to them, and according to this player, in “football culture”, this makes Martin someone that isn’t “enough of a man” instead of someone who needs empathy and help.
Quotes like the ones below further cement everything I already think:
[Martin] came off as standoffish and shy to the rest of the offensive linemen. He couldn’t look anyone in the eye, which was puzzling for a football player at this level on a team full of grown-ass men.
What people want to call bullying is something that is never going away from football.
Playing football is a man’s job, and if there’s any weak link, it gets weeded out. It’s the leaders’ job on the team to take care of it.
This speaks volumes – to him it wasn’t “bullying”. It was “shaping him up” or “getting him in line” or “making him a man”.
Anywhere else in intelligent society it’s exactly what it is: actual bullying. It wouldn’t be tolerated, and it certainly wouldn’t be looked at as something a leader does.
Martin was quiet and shy and different, and they ostracized him for it. If he couldn’t talk and act like them, they’d make him that way. Or else.
It really does confirm everything I think – this cartoonish version of “what a football player is”, etc. is buffoonish. He who hits hardest and busts the most heads and acts like the biggest “man” is doing it “right”.
I get that “that’s football”, but combined with all the brain damage and etc, I have a hard time seeing that version of the game as something to admire or cheer for.
Most will admit that at the very least Incognito went too far, but here we have a testimonial from someone who was there that what Incognito did was not only fine, but part of the job.
If you truly remove yourself from your football fandom, you (I hope) can see how twisted that is.
The game and system is set up to enable the worst in someone.
You might be okay with that and call me a Pollyanna, but I find it increasingly difficult to support something that encourages people to be more horrible to each other.
And yes, we could easily gloss over all of it and say “hey, it’s football, it’s an isolated environment, and that’s okay,” but that ignores the fact that there’s a direct line between this type of “athlete as demigod” attitude and situations like Steubenville.
The Incognitos of the world carry their entitlement off the field, and therein is the bigger problem.
Saying “we all agree Incognito is an ass-hole, problem solved” is not nearly good enough.