I’ve been following this story from the sidelines… listening and processing before placing judgment. The voicemail that the NFL obtained is quite damning. Incognito calling Martin, “Hey, wassup, you half (expletive) piece of (expletive), I saw you on Twitter, you been training 10 weeks. I’ll (expletive) in your (expletive) mouth. I’m gonna slap your (expletive) mouth, I’m gonna slap your real mother across the face (laughter). (Expletive) you, you’re still a rookie. I’ll kill you.” So aggressive it read like a mad lib. I don’t care if your coaches told you to “toughen up” a guy… that’s not right.
I guess there’s a fine line in the NFL… what is what? What is hazing? What is harassing? What is bullying? Where do you draw that line? Well, you draw waaaaaay before it gets to where it got in Miami.
There is anonymous twitter account… “Mr. Sports Journo” with the handle @BIGSPORTSWRITER – I was only made aware of this account yesterday. I have no clue who it is. Here’s what that twitter feed had to say about the situation. 140 character chunks is no way to read a rant. I decided not to edit out the f*bombs, etc. Deal with it.
I don’t know Jonathan Martin – I won’t pretend to. And, like just about every writer – have zero insight into the Dolphins locker room. I won’t speak to Incognito’s guilt, innocence, or anything in between. I’ll just say: If you validate yourself, by violating somebody else, somebody ‘weaker’ or ‘lesser’ – you’re a fucking monster. This idea that “the weak must be weeded out” in sports, or social groups, or somebody’s Fraternity or Sorority is arcane and psychotic. And anybody that gets up on a pedestal, and pitches you on the “[P]Wussification of America” is compliant in the predatory behavior. You’d think that seeing an enormous, powerful, elite-level athlete potentially brought to his knees by this kind of behavior would shake people loose from their hetero-normative, masculinity-crisis-driven, ideology foxholes. But no. Instead we let insecurity rule over logic and empathy and common fucking decency, and treat a tormentor as a throwback leader. And they use coded lingo, like “soft” or “gentle” – cause now we’re not in a locker room, people are listening, and “fag” ain’t appropriate. ‘Well maybe Jonathan Martin just isn’t cut out for the NFL’ they posit, hoping you’ll ignore the MASSIVE FACTUAL EVIDENCE to the contrary…Like, ya’know – his first round draft status, his NFL contract, playing time, performance, and having succeeded at every level. Do you know what the most-used, most effective form of torture is? The one we use on terrorists? The one terrorists use on us? Isolation. You know why isolation is the most effective form of torture? Because given enough time of feeling like you’re alone: EVERYONE breaks. You see it from middle-school cyber bullying to Gitmo – social isolation destroys people. The fact that a 300+ pound man cracked, or broke, or lost it – should serve as proof-positive that the problem is so far beyond ‘hazing.’ We – yes, we – have allowed sports to install victimization factories within our most accepted and celebrated institutions. The very place we send our kids to learn how to socialize, is where we allow cycles of abuse to settle in and let their hooks. Because in these situations from pop warner to the nfl – the instant you cease being a victim, you become a victimizer. And anybody’s explanation that begins “Well I had to live through it so ___” is displaying a CLASSIC victim’s mentality of fake empowerment. And I don’t know when the lines got moved from when boys were actually just being boys to where we are now… I don’t know if boys were ever actually ‘just being boys’…. I don’t know why we use phrases that completely ignore the fact that this happens on female teams across the country, too. And I won’t accept us simply offering mental health to the victims, when it’s the victimizers that need to be institutionalized. Here’s the thing, Jonathan Martin may not be a great – or even a good – offensive lineman. From everyone I’ve talked to, he’s struggled. With a quick scan of the ratings from PFF and a few others, you can see that he’s graded out poorly… But 1) He’s in his second year. And 2) WHO THE FUCK CARES, HE’S A HUMAN, FOOTBALL ABILITY SHOULDN’T BE PRIORITIZED OVER COMMON DECENCY. In a conversation about sexual harassment in the office, would you turn around and say “Well, I mean… she’s not much of an accountant.” How insane is that? How could you possibly respond to evidence of abuse with “He’s not even that good a lineman.” The sheer ignorance. This isn’t necessarily a sports problem, but it’s a problem in sports that is emblematic of our cultural failings. As if there’s no chance Jonathan Martin’s shortcomings on the field may have been affected by the human shortcoming of those around him. We need to worry AS MUCH about how we treat the Richie Incognito’s of the world, as how we treat the Jonathan Martin’s. Because when you look at the cycles this kind of behavior creates – all the way down to preteens – we have sociopaths breeding sociopaths. And the Richie’s of the world get to point back at their trail of abuse, violence, othering & ostracization – And say, “Hey, they did it to me, first… and I turned out fine.” No you didn’t, and you sound like a molester. And I know I said I wasn’t going to specifically attack Incognito’s guilt or role as abuser, but, fuck it – boys will be boys, right?