Monday, November 11, 2013

Miami Dolphin locker room: missing in action

Incognito and Martin
The first question I had after reading the sordid bullying details by Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito of his teammate Jonathan Martin:

Where were the locker room leaders?

The second logical question was: Where is the team's upper management -- including coaches, GM, trainers, team president, Operational managers and owner?

It seemed implausible that a fellow player/team member could be allegedly racially taunted, pimped, extorted, threatened and harassed to this degree without any official or unofficial Dolphin intervention.

Many football fans, reporters, players and former players have collectively expressed: The NFL (or any sports locker room) locker room serves as the inner sanctum of the players. In this den of testosterone an alpha male pecking order is naturally selected; and players have to learn to man-up or they quickly learn the NFL ain't for everybody. They ask:

Where is J-Martin's manhood?

To this crowd, I understand the basis of their question/issue to a certain extent: a 300 plus pound man should be able to physically handle his business. I hover around 180 pounds and I find it inconceivable that -- especially after no longer being subject to rookie hazing -- I would give some jerk 15,000 K so he can party in Vegas.

But not being privy to all the details, my main question still centers around team leadership or apparently lack thereof. For example, in a predominately black locker room, how can the "brothers" allow Incognito to thug out -- and N-word -- another black baller.

Sports writer Jason Whitlock writes:

Mass incarceration has turned segments of Black America so upside down that a tatted-up, N-word-tossing white goon is more respected and accepted than a soft-spoken, highly intelligent black Stanford graduate.

According to a story in the Miami Herald, black Dolphins players granted Richie Incognito "honorary" status as a black man while feeling little connection to Jonathan Martin.

Welcome to Incarceration Nation, where the mindset of the Miami Dolphins' locker room mirrors the mentality of a maximum-security prison yard and where a wide swath of America believes the nonviolent intellectual needs to adopt the tactics of the barbarian.

I don't blame Jonathan Martin for walking away from the Dolphins and checking himself into a hospital seeking treatment for emotional distress. The cesspool of insanity that apparently is the Miami locker room would test the mental stability of any sane man. Martin, the offspring of Harvard grads, a 24-year-old trained at some of America's finest academic institutions, is a first-time offender callously thrown into an Attica prison cell with Incognito and Aaron Hernandez's BFF Mike Pouncey. Dolphins warden Jeff Ireland and deputy warden Joe Philbin put zero sophisticated thought into what they were doing when they drafted Martin in the second round in 2012.

You don't put Jonathan Martin in a cell with Incognito and Pouncey. You draft someone else, and let another team take Martin. The Dolphins don't have the kind of environment to support someone with Martin's background. It takes intelligence and common sense to connect with and manage Martin. Those attributes appear to be in short supply in Miami. please read entire article


  1. To Whitlock's angle, which is playing off the Herald, I have a feeling that "black" is the only way these guys know how to describe a culture where it's okay for people to drop the N bomb in that context. What else can one say when put in that position?

    "Why is it okay for a white person to say that word?"

    Any question remotely close to that, which is nearly every question and criticism, carries with it the implication that it's a black-only word white people are never allowed to utter under any circumstance. If some black guys don't mind it, say it, don't care if others say it, and feel there's no harm in saying it, that is their culture. So when confronted with the hysteria from the outside world, where it's made clear who can and can't use it, saying someone is given honorary "black" status is probably the only way a young man can wrap his head around it to explain it.

    If the players don't care, I'm sure at least part of them is wondering what the big deal is. And I know from what I've read and with whom I've spoken about it that black players not acting how they "should" in that instance is what's driving a lot of the anger. There are many people who want an ingrained, instantaneous reaction when that work is spoken by someone whose race happens to be different. The reality that a lot of modern day culture doesn't care infuriates some.

    To Martin in particular, I'm not sure he was bullied. I'm not sure he was mistreated. At least no more so than what anyone else caught. As more information comes out, it appears as if Martin is singing a different tune than his legal team. But we'll see. I honestly don't know at this point.

    I think the Dolphins players thought that this is just how things work. Martin played along because part of him wanted to. But it piled up, he kept it bottled in, and he melted down. Just a guess, but I believe it would have cooled down if he let on to what was simmering under the lid. Ball-breaking goes to extremes at times, and gets very nasty, but amongst a band of brothers, things can quickly be repaired.

  2. Once again -- due to your obsession regarding who can and can not use the N-word -- you failed (on a Grand Canyon scale) to miss the greater point that JW was making in his article.

    His point was rooted on how Rap music, the hip-hop scene, and the prison culture has contaminated the African American culture at large. Sagging pants, fatherless children, education rejection, criminal embrace have all become synonymous with "keeping it real"

    And brothers that embrace education, speaking the King's language, raising their family and maintaining a quiet disposition are called sell outs. In fact, JW's point has been used by many black conservatives.

    I have a challenge for you: Go to Little Italy, NYC and start calling the denizens wop, dago or Greeseball -- even though many Italians may jokingly use these terms, I doubt your experience would be pleasant.

    Next, go to China Town and start calling the people chinks and gooks....

    Go to the Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn and called the people kikes and tell the merchants to stop Jewing me.

    Finally, ask one of your black, brown or other friends to go to Hell's Kitchen and call the people of Irish descent Mick or paddy.... And I will go to deep Mississippi and use the cracker word...

    We all have words restrictions....even when the offended party uses the word among themselves.

  3. I agree with Whitlock's main point. Didn't miss it; just didn't comment on it. My comment was nothing to do with the main point. But, as it said, the potential reason someone might use a phrase like "honorary 'black' status." It's an odd phrase; it's an odd take. I offered my take on why someone might phrase it in such a way. And my conclusion is that's the only thing folks can think of once they're reminded of how they're "supposed" to act.

    Sorry that someone would dare offer an opinion on it, on a blog of all places. Damn dirty white boy racist hogwash. I'll give myself 15 lashes for penance and refrain from further upsetting the balance.

    And what's with the strawman? Obviously some people are offended by some terms. I never said people weren't, nor that they shouldn't be.

    Though, obviously, some aren't.

    My point was that people feeling that group X SHOULD be offended by a word is bunk. It's no different than someone claiming group X SHOULDN'T be offended.

    Individuals of every stripe are going to be offended about something. Others won't be. I see little principle difference in projecting onto all people the same standard and in a culture that discourages education. Both are seeking to influence behavior and aren't very forward thinking for individuals.

    But I'm typing too much. I have some flagellation waiting. Me and my obsession will be elsewhere.

  4. @Josh... I will continue to encourage and welcome all responsible comments. But don't get it twisted, I will challenge all comments based on my beliefs. I often express strong opinions, hence, I am not surprised when folks strongly disagree with me. Please do not be so sensitive to think that because your opinions are challenged means they are not welcome.

    Second, I was not raising a straw man argument in my ethnic slurring challenge...I was -- albeit weakly -- trying to us irony and caustic wit to demonstrate the absurdity of all ethnic slur double standard.

    In other words, I can call my mother fat but I will fight you tooth and nail if you defame her honor.

  5. Oh, of course, I must add (lol) my mother is beautiful and about as far from fat as anyone could be. I was just using a random cliché ya mom!

  6. My bad if it wasn't a strawman. But I inferred it as such. I never meant to suggest that people SHOULDN'T be offended or that they wouldn't be offended. Obviously I'd get into blows with some folks if I did that. Whereas other folks wouldn't care.

    I know this very well for points of country pride, too, not only race -- having a father of Irish heritage and mia madre e Italiana - un sacco di mia famiglia Italiano e Irish combatte con loro insulti spesso. It's okay sometimes between some; other times it's not.

    I agree with the mother bit. A guy I filled in some ghostwriting spots for via the Northern Va Daily had a long-held stance that amps only went to 10 in the sporting world. E.g. if you're playing your hardest in the AFC Championship, there's no sudden "next level" for the Super Bowl. And the mother example won the argument instantly. "Well, you'd get mad if I said FU, but you'd be a hysterical bull if I said it about your mother."

    The point I'm conveying is that I wouldn't project on people that they need to be as upset as I am if they're insulted or their people are insulted.

    If you came up in a different environment and embraced a certain culture equally across racial lines, and a word to you was only a word, you might not understand what the big deal was. But vice versa. Neither end of the spectrum should attempt to dictate how the other should feel. That was my only point. Things like "honorary black" seem to me to be born of confusion -- of people looking for a way to say "Relax, I don't see the big deal" without having to face a shitstorm. But it's a shitstorm regardless involving anything race.

    That seemed rather innocuous, level-headed and generally subdued to be labeled an "obsession"!

    So, yeah, I took offense -- in the hyperbolic, condescending realm. But I'm not the take-my-ball-and-go-home type. As a non-religious, libertarian-minded person, my beliefs (or lack thereof) are constantly challenged. That part I don't mind.

    But going the bunny-boiler route!? lol