Bullying Casts Shadow on NFL


NBC Sports

Brett Pizzi, Staff Writer

Richie Incognito, a former player of the Miami Dolphins, has been accused of bullying teammate Jonathan Martin, through threatening and racist text messages and voice mails. While pranks and jokes are common throughout the NFL, Incognito took it too far, sending racist texts to Martin, who is biracial. The texts were filled with racism, threats on Martin’s family, and slander directed at Martin directly.

Martin proceeded to leave the Dolphins shortly after. It is still unknown whether or not Martin will return to the Dolphins and there is no telling yet if Incognito will have a future with any other team in the NFL.

While it is common for professional athletes to be derogatory towards each other, it is never meant to be taken this far. The locker room is a family setting, where the players spend the majority of their time during the day with their fellow players. A form of trust is meant to be created between teammates, and being comfortable and relying on others is a necessity to be successful, which the Dolphins haven’t been.

“The notion of bullying is based on speculation and has not been presented to us as a concern from Jonathan or anyone else internally. Our primary concern for Jonathan is his overall health and well-being,” Spokesperson for the Miami Dolphins football team, said.

The situation as a whole has cast a poor light on both of the players, the team, and the NFL as a whole. While the situation was handled appropriately, at the end of it all, two players are both left without jobs, the Dolphins are the laughing stock of the league, and the NFL is being questioned on whether they handled to situation appropriately. There are always two sides to

every story, and determining whether or not the situation has been over blown or was taken properly is difficult to measure.

“I think it has been handled very poorly, it is a subgroup unto itself, (football) is being looked at by outsiders and being picked apart when it shouldn’t be, I think its overblown and a lot of players reputations have been affected by a rush to judgment” Coach. Mounds, Assistant football coach at Wellington High School, said.

The perspectives taken can influence how we perceive a situation. To some, Martin was clearly being bullied and Incognito was in the wrong. But for others, Incognito may have just been trying to pump up a teammate in the group but had his trust betrayed. Incognito may have not even known he was taking it too far; this may be a common occurrence for the team.

Those that have had the experience of playing a team sport or being part of a friend group know that jokes are made that may seem hurtful to some but be derogatory to others, though that may not have been the intent of the “jokester.” Yet, when it goes to the degree that Incognito seems to have taken the bullying, and to where Martin felt threatened and felt the need to come forward, it was going too far. Whether Incognito knew what he was doing or not, does not change the fact that he hurt a teammate.