Dolphins’ Martin highlights issue with NFL culturePublished 11:27am Friday, November 8, 2013
You know, I always thought that on some level, bullying was something that only occurred among young adults. I figured it was something that you eventually phase out of at some point during say, your junior or senior year of high school.
Thanks to the Miami Dolphins, I may have been sorely mistaken. But this column isn’t about the “bullying” that Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin suffered through. And it’s not about the reprehensible actions of fellow Dolphins lineman Richie Incognito.
Instead, I think that this incident has put a large spotlight on perhaps the root of most of the issues in th NFL today: the culture and manhood of an NFL player. It all starts pretty young. If you get hurt, you don’t show it, and you most definitely better not cry about it.
On the gridiron, your job is to impose your will on your opposition – whether that is physically, emotionally, or however.
Societal norms have historically dictated that men aren’t supposed to talk about their problems. In fact, if confronted with a problem they are supposed to handle it like a man – meaning, use fisticuffs to send a message.
And a professional football player should, you would think, serve as your standard representation of what a “man’s man” is.
That’s the problem with this situation. Martin is not your prototypical NFL player.
These may be considered sweeping generalizations, but I’d guess the majority of those who put their bodies on the line every Sunday probably come from single-parent homes. Martin has both a mother and father.
If I had to guess, I’d say that your standard NFL player has probably played sports all of his life. So much so, that it may be considered his only way out of the unfavorable situation he was in as a youth.
Martin, whose parents are both Harvard graduates – like other members of his family – probably didn’t allow that “one way out” thought-process to permeate their son’s mind.
Martin is said to have mental issues. I don’t know if that’s true, but given the recent rash of NFL-related suicides, that’s nothing to joke about.
And it doesn’t make a man soft if he didn’t do what his general manager said, and physically retaliate against Incognito. Besides, that could have led to an injury to one of both players, which would hurt the team.
But hey, he’d still have his manhood, right?
I think Martin should have stood up for himself long before it got to this point. He should have been, well, more of a man about the situation. I don’t think that much of Incognito as a person, either.
Both parties, as well as the entire Dolphins organization, are at fault here.
Martin chose to handle this situation in the manner he did, and that’s his choice. Whether I would have done so in the same fashion, well that’s for another day.
Whether you call Martin soft, or Incognito and the Dolphins horrible, it still seems like there’s a much bigger problem in the NFL than one man picking on another.
Bailey is sports editor for The Outlook.