*There’s more to the story about Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito than insiders are willing to reveal.
Most people who know the inside story say Miami Dolphins coaches knew Incognito was hazing Martin and possibly encouraged it to toughen up Martin and other new recruits.
Most players and coaches who defend Incognito probably do so because of his on-the-field contributions, because who can look at his off-the-field actions alone and endorse him with his history of derogatory behavior that went back as far as thirteen years when he played college football?
This dude is just plain rude, probably because he was allowed to get away with it. And when a Miami TV news crew interviewed him recently, Incognito said something to the effect that he just had to weather this storm that soon would pass. He has yet to apologize or even acknowledge any wrong doing.
I’m sure we all have been in situations where – whether it was a new job or a social setting - we found ourselves in new territory where cursing, racist remarks or sexist jokes were the norm. And we had to go along to get along until we were forced to either assimilate or rebel. People in different sub-settings operate under different rules of engagement. And those rules might allow for some behavior that would otherwise be unacceptable. That’s probably why some black people call each other the N-word but won’t accept non black people calling them the same.
Walking into the locker room as a high draft pick and met with behavior he apparently was not used to, Martin might have felt he had no choice but to accept it. Afterall, as a football player making it to the NFL probably was his ultimate goal that he wasn’t going to let pass him by because of some loud mouth bully who had the support of other players and seemingly the coaching staff. So he dealt with it for as long as he could.
But to whom much is given much is required. Could it be the price of making millions of dollars for a black man in the NFL (at least as a Miami Dolphin) is you might be expected to put up with racist bullies on testosterone overload? And even if every player on the Dolphins team accepted Incognito’s name calling as just another day at the office, if Martin felt harassed by him it’s not for anyone else to validate or invalidate his feelings.
Martin was bigger than Incognito and probably could have physically defended himself had it come to that. But maybe Martin is smarter than we have given him credit for. Sometimes the best defense is evidence. That and to give someone like Incognito enough rope to hang himself and possibly some of the people in authority who knew about it but didn’t stop it.
Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. For comments, questions or speaking inquiries email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.