You’ve most likely heard about the bullying case that has plagued the Miami Dolphins football team.
In case you haven’t, Dolphins' offensive lineman Richie Incognito has been accused of bullying and harassing fellow offensive lineman Jonathan Martin. Martin left the team once the accusations were made public.
Evidence has come out that Incognito used racial epithets around Martin through voicemail and text message, but many in the Dolphins locker room have come out and defended Incognito, saying that this is normal amongst NFL players and that Martin sent similar messages to Incognito.
Dolphins players have claimed it is Martin who is at fault, saying he should’ve said something before leaving the team. Incognito has since defended himself, claiming he was Martin’s “best friend” and that Martin should’ve come to him about any issues.
Although he regrets using the racially charged terms and using vulgar language, Incognito doesn’t believe he was bullying Martin. And Incognito has a point.
It’s obvious that such language shouldn’t be used at any time, but that is the nature of the NFL locker room.
The NFL locker room is not your normal workplace setting. Here, 53 young men hit each other in practice almost daily and hit opposing players on game days.
These men are some of the strongest, fastest and meanest people you will meet. They have to be able to psyche themselves up for one game per week and grind through a tough 16 game schedule. That does not include the offseason workouts and practices.
The locker room is a very tight-knit group, and these players often look at each other as extended family.They have to have trust their teammates and feel comfortable around them off the field if they are to trust them on it. Such a tight and comfortable group of players is sure to joke around with one another and use sarcasm that could be considered odd.
To the public, the sarcasm and jokes these players use comes off as weird, inappropriate and wrong. Yet, put into the context of these men, it’s normal. They’ve been around this all of their lives.
Simply put, these men are brothers. They don’t see the issue with the words.
The NFL locker room is something that we, as society, will never be able to understand. I am in no way absolving Incognito of using the words he did, but who am I, and who is society for that matter, to tell NFL players how to run their locker room? We’re not there. We don’t grind out offseason workouts and grueling practices with these men.
Society has no basis for telling NFL players how they should act in NFL locker rooms. That is up to the players themselves.
We do not have all the facts in this case, as Martin has yet to speak publicly about the issue. But one thing is quite obvious; Martin wasn’t comfortable with the locker room atmosphere.
Martin, Incognito and the other Dolphins players are all responsible for this situation. After all, it’s their jungle, not ours.