Not So Incognito

Published on 06-Nov-2013 by Towner Park
Football - NFL / NFL Daily Opinion

Team bonding or team bondage?

What's happening in the Miami Dolphins' camp right now is a clash of cultures.

First and foremost, the NFL lockeroom is an entirely different arena. Situations and behaviors that normal society would consider extreme are for the most part, a social norm within the realm of the NFL. Players, especially rookies, are subjected to hazing and public embarrassment of all kinds, ranging from picking up large bills for an entire teams dinner to being tied to a goal post, nude.

In the NFL, players accept this and rookies have no choice. However, Richie Incognito took matters to a completely different level. At least, we think it's a different level; who knows if similar incidents just went unreported?

According to transcripts and voicemails that were recently released, Incognito not only harrassed his fellow teammate, Jonathan Martin, but sent him a series of obscene and racist messages. This behavior shouldn't be tolerated, and Incognito, who has a history of controversial antics, was well deserving of his recent suspension.

A lockeroom is a chance for teammates to develop into a tight-knit family. Linemen, especially, are extensions of one another. They are constantly working out, studying film, and coordinating workouts to enhance their success as a cohesive unit. Essentially, they are like a family within a family. Incognito and Martin have been together for over a year. Now, who knows how long this harrassment was taking place, but it's surprising that no one stepped up prior this report's release. If this family, into which offensive linemen tend to develop, knew what was transpiring and no one spoke up, then each and every one of these players should be ashamed.

Frankly, the entire organization should be ashamed. This incident has cast a shadow on the entire Dolphins organization. For what's been an inconsistent season, Miami certainly doesn't need this type of publicity. Regardless, it took Johnathan Martin, speaking up, to call attention to these malicious threats. As we now know, his behavior has ultimately forced him to take a leave of absence.

What's unfair is that people have been questioning Martin's actions. People are acting as if he was a coward during this entire ordeal when in fact, something needed to be said. Obviously, Martin felt as though he was being harrassed in such a hostile way that his mentality was starting to take a hit, which inevitably would affect his work performance.

I'm perfectly fine with what Martin did, and I feel as though -- given the circumstances -- it was a tough decision to make but the right one. Yes, he may have broken locker room code, but for the betterment of his mental health, he did what he had to do. No one can question his intentions.

Now the world has gained a little more insight into the odd society in which NFL players reside. Hazing is fine, it's a rite of passage; but taking it to an entirely higher level is clearly unacceptable. Not only should Richie Incognito be punished, the entire organization -- if it comes to light that they knew and did nothing -- should be reprimanded as well.

Hopefully, Jonathan Martin returns, mentally healthy and ready to compete again in the game he absolutely loves. It's his right and no one should strip him from that.

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