Hazing happens. There is no reason to try to dispute this fact. Whether it is in sports, the workplace, fraternities or sororities, hazing has been going on for decades. Some rookies understand the rite of passage as a new member to the league but once the player becomes offended, no matter how trivial the event, the line has been crossed.
Cue Miami Dolphins lineman Jonathan Martin. Martin was a two-time All-American at Stanford University and was drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft in 2012. Similar to pretty much every rookie in the NFL, he was initiated, and there were no reported problems.
Entering his second season, Martin was named the starting left tackle for the Dolphins, arguably the most important position on the offensive line. The fun and games should have ended. Football should have been the main focus.
Unfortunately, some of his teammates saw reason to treat Martin like a rookie again.
The situation reached a climax on Oct. 30, when Martin stormed out of the Dolphins lunchroom after allegedly being bullied by several players. The person at the helm: Dolphins captain Richie Incognito.
Incognito has been a problem for every team that he has played for. While in college, he was kicked off of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln football team. A few weeks later, he transferred to the University of Oregon, where he was kicked off of the team within one week.
He did make it to the pros, however. In his last season for the St. Louis Rams, Incognito head-butted an opposing player, resulting in a $50,000 fine from the NFL. He was subsequently released by the Rams and signed by the Buffalo Bills, where he did not make a huge impact. In 2012, Sporting News named him NFL’s second-dirtiest player behind Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
His impact with the Dolphins will be remembered. The NFL, the Miami Dolphins organization and ESPN reporter Adam Schefter accessed a voicemail that Incognito left on Martin’s phone in which, Incognito calls Martin various profanities, and said that he wanted to “shit in his fucking mouth.” He ended the voicemail by saying, “Fuck you, you’re still a rookie. I’ll kill you.”
This voicemail caused Martin to leave the team and the Dolphins to suspend Incognito indefinitely. According to a source inside the Dolphins organization, “[Incognito] will never play another game here.”
Incognito, instead of keeping his head down, decided to try to publicly defend himself on Twitter. On Sunday, he tweeted at Schefter, “Enough is enough. If you or any of the agents you sound off for have a problem with me, you know where to find me #BRINGIT.” Besides trying to pick fights with members of the media, he also said that he wanted his name cleared.
Many people on online message boards have been calling Martin soft for leaving the team because of this. The thought process amongst these people is that you should never abandon your team, no matter what.
Still, what Martin experienced was over the top. The locker room is supposed to be a safe haven for players. They do not have to deal with fans or opposing players. They are supposed to feel safe with their teammates.
Another notable point is that Martin stands 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighs in at 312 pounds. With the culture that is surrounding American children today, this goes to show bullying can be damaging to anyone at any age.
It is far-fetched to try and eliminate hazing from the NFL or life in general, but it needs to be moderated. When someone can no longer function because of harassment, something needs to change. There is no place for the kind of hazing that Incognito did in the world.u