In Dolphins Case, a Chance to Change NFL Culture

Slate writers: League needs to stop letting a 'poisonous misanthrope' go unpunished
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 5, 2013 1:00 PM CST
In this July 24 file photo, Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito (68) and tackle Jonathan Martin (71) stand on the field during practice.   (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)
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(Newser) – The case of a Miami Dolphins player essentially accused of bullying a fellow player to the point of serious mental distress is nothing short of a "test of NFL culture," write Emily Bazelon and Josh Levin at Slate. Sure, it sounds strange at first that a bulky NFL lineman, in this case Jonathan Martin, could be a victim of bullying. But the long track record of harasser Richie Incognito with such misdeeds makes this different. "Incognito, it seems, has spent his life training for the role of locker-room villain," they write, with allegations of spitting on opponents, cheap shots, deliberate attempts to injure, and racist and homophobic comments. It's not for nothing he's known as the "dirtiest player in the league."

The thing is, the NFL pretty much looks the other way at stuff like this. Teams are forgiving as long as a player performs on the field. Might this case change things? "If the NFL can switch from enabling its Incognitos to helping its Martins, the latter player could become a modern-day Rosey Grier," write Bazelon and Levin. The all-pro Grier performed a song called "It's Alright to Cry" back in the 1970s. "In the cities and towns where football is king, an NFL player copping to human vulnerability can truly make it easier for kids to do the same thing." Click for their full column. (Read more Miami Dolphins stories.)

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