By Steve Silverman
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The Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying affair resonates in all of us.
This is not merely about one football-playing Neanderthal who tried to make life hell for another player simply because he could.
Incognito has a history of boorish and ugly behavior, but he was supposedly not acting strictly on his own. The Dolphins reportedly wanted Martin, a talented but soft left tackle, to get a little meaner. They knew that Incognito was not only the meanest guy on the team, but one of the nastiest dudes in the NFL.
That mitigates some of Incognito’s guilt. It’s possible he was acting at the behest of his employer.
He obviously went too far and his behavior was abusive, racist, unacceptable and ugly at all turns.
However, the reason that this incident will not go away any time soon is that everyone can relate to it.
Presumably, most grown men and women are not involved in bullying at home, at work or in any social situation.
However, all of us grew up and nearly everyone was involved in a situation that involved bullying. Maybe you were bullied by a neighbor, a so-called friend or someone you looked at cross-eyed.
Maybe you were the one who bullied somebody just because you were stronger, tougher or sensed a weakness.
Maybe you were none of those individuals, but you knew of a bullying episode that involved a friend, teammate or relative.
That last situation is the one that may be the most unresolved of all of them. Most of us know that we should treat people with decency, the way we would want to be treated by others.
Most of us also know that if someone else is treating you badly, you can change the situation by standing up for yourself.
But what if you observe a bullying situation? When do you get involved? When do you stick your nose in business that is not yours? It’s not easy because you don’t understand the situation because you are not involved.
But when you see the abuse actually happening, you have to step in to prevent someone from getting hurt.
That’s what makes the Incognito-Martin situation so troubling. Where were Martin’s teammates when they witnessed the abuse in the locker room? Were players so fearful that standing up for a weaker teammate would put them in the line of fire that they simply buried their heads in the South Beach sand?
Apparently, the answer is yes.
It’s one thing for children, teenagers and young people not to know what to do when someone is being bullied.
It’s sickening for adults not to know what to do in the same situation. It’s even worse that some aspect of the bullying appears to have been sanctioned by the Dolphins’ coaching staff.
Bullying and harassment strikes an unpleasant memory with nearly everyone.
The NFL and the NFL Players Association must come to an agreement on how to keep this from happening in the future.
Mature thought and behavior has not been enough to keep it out of the NFL to this point, so rules have to be made, and all parties have to be treated like children.
It’s pitiful, just like Incognito’s treatment of Martin.
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