The Miami Dolphins Bullying Kerfuffle (MDBK) - we don't have a thread on this?

I searched on “Incognito” and didn’t find any recent threads. And I am putting this hear vs. The Game Room because this story has crossed over to mainstream media. This is getting so much lather and froth on ESPN, and is on the home/front page of places like CNN and that I am surprised there isn’t a thread started yet. If I missed one, sorry.


  • In terms of the situation, it stinks. Seems like Martin got harrassed/bullied by Incognito with the explicit or implicit support of some coaches looking to toughen the new guy up.

  • Incognito seems like a nutjob who could only function in a macho/warfare-type situation. You may want him next to you in a foxhole - but it’s not clear he’s ready for mainstream society ;). If he was tasked with toughening Martin up - well, that would be just stupid - asking the pyro to be on fire watch, etc…

  • The fact that the Dolphins players appear to be distancing themselves from Martin - they seem to feel like: a) what they saw Incognito do didn’t seem out of line; and b) Martin went public, a unity-ending no-no to teammates.

With all of that, I still struggle with the concept of trying to apply “standard work rules” to this type of situation. I can’t clutch my pearls about the fact that an NFL locker room is a super-tough environment. The fact that many NFL’ers are saying “Martin should’ve just punched Incognito” is a clear signal that we’re not in your standard workplace - and that’s not surprising, just an inside look at a place most of us know nothing about.

I am sure we don’t know the whole story, and it appears to be the Hot Mess that keeps on giving…

What do other Dopers think?

For reference, the poorly-titled Game Room thread, Can someone please parse this poorly written article for me?.

I personally get that some players might get hazed by having to go pick up lunch from a nearby carryout place, pay for an occasional dinner, get called unflattering things, but making people pay tens of thousands to fund older players’ trips, pick up ~$40K dinner tabs, and calling them pretty vile slurs is beyond the pale.

I predict Martin’s career is over because he’s perceived as weak and he went public with the harassment.

I predict Incognito will be given some sort of punishment then fully reinstated as a player making millions of dollars a year.

In other words, the bully will win.

I keep waiting for one of the news stories about this to tell us who Incognito really is.

Hell, in baseball there used to be a tradition where rookies coming through Chicago had to paint the balls of a horse statue blue during their first visit. The local cops were in on it and the rookies would get arrested, stressed out and released. Big laffs all around.

But I respect the guy for saying, “Fuck this, I quit.” There’s a great deal to be said for a person who decides something shouldn’t be tolerated and goes public, especially if it costs them, as this apparently did.

Also, seriously, “Richie Incognito”? You can’t make that stuff up.

:snerk: Yeah, great name.

Ah, thanks Ferret Herder - no wonder I didn’t find it…

You don’t get to call your co-worker racist names in the US, much less call him up on the telephone to do so. It’s a firing offense, pure and simple. Martin should sue for what he could have made monetarily during a career and get the f’in Dolphins to pay for the whole career he couldn’t have because of their racist environment. Since the Dolphins have openly supported the racist harasser, they should have to pay the judgment and punitive damages in addition. The conduct is illegal and unacceptable.

There’s also a thread in the BBQ Pit Dear NFL, you make it hard to be a fan

Just for some background on the racial issues underlying the story here’s a great column by Jason Whitlock.

WTF?! I swear, I did a search on the word “Incognito” across all forums (fora?) for the past few weeks and that thread didn’t turn up. Grr. Thanks Eureka - and sorry if this thread covers old territory.

To be clear - from a workplace standpoint, what happened to Martin crosses a line and he can and should take action.

Football players seem to be between a…well, a rock and a hard place (ugh). They need to bring the blood n’ guts - the gladiator entertainment that appeals to our basic animal side of things. But they have to do it carefully - work themselves into a Berserker frenzy, but make sure they only hit and tackle in certain ways, and go back to being fully civilized off the field.

Jonathan Chance - that’s a great column by Whitlock.

It’d be nice if this case prompted teams (professional, college, whatever) to put an end to hazing of young players, whether it’s racist harassment, physical intimidation, semi-extortion (like what’s been reported in Miami) or just “psychological” harassment/embarassment like making rookies dress up in drag in public. There should be no place for any of this crap.

But we’ll hear more about how it’s part of the “culture” and “bonding”, and after the Incognito/Martin thing blows over, it’ll be back to business as usual.

*Ty Cobb’s autobiography prominently mentions the bitterness he still felt many decades after being hazed as a rookie on the Detroit Tigers. For many players that kind of thing was seen as no big deal, but it apparently contributed towards making Cobb the angry and antisocial personality he became.
Hazing undoubtedly contributes to perpetuating Incognitos. Some of them are getting revenge for how they were treated.

My prediction? Some coaching staff will be fired because they’re more expendable. The Dolphins can sacrifice coaches to demonstrate they’re taking things seriously without hurting the team on the field.

This is exactly the wrong message. It tells the players that as long as they’re famous and good at the game, they will be held to a looser standard everywhere else. Which is the last thing professional athletes need to hear.

When Ty Cobb says you’re acting inappropriately, that should be a serious warning sign. It’s like Keith Richards telling you he’s concerned about your drug use.

Bill Parcells made some good comments. I agree with him that we don’t know enough yet about the situation. I’m not sure why this couldn’t be worked out within the team.

This really needs to be read by everyone grappling with this issue.

Because this is not the Wild West? Because we have rules, both legal and via societal construct about how people are to behave and how that behavior is to be regulated and being in a locker room does not exempt you from that? They don’t get to determine for themselves their culpability for abuse any more than they would if someone had been murdered.

Of course you’re right - at the standard social rules level, this feels like “obvious thing is obvious.”


  • Is it really surprising that, at the upper levels of performance of a violent game, the rules are different? That is a specialized environment. I can see where a non-Bullying version would be a better approach even in that specialized environment - but is not surprising that this dysfunctional approach might emerge, too

  • I don’t like comparing it to the army, but the “work as a team to do violent things” angle is there. It is not surprising that the “rules” that are effective at maximizing effectiveness in that context might be different.

  • How about…I dunno…how about movie sets? I seem to read regularly about actors having torrid affairs on movie sets - which seem to be viewed a bit differently vs. crossing sexual lines in a “normal” workplace. Are there comparisons?

I am struck by how our overloaded media cycles are clamoring all over this. The fundamental disconnect - between standard Normal and violent-gang Normal - coupled with the media gleefully jumping all over it - is a thing to behold. Even while I start threads about it :wink:

I second the Whitlock article, it’s sheds light on what’s really going on here.

Now, I get the whole locker-room rookie hazing mentality. It is what it is. They can afford it, by time a player gets to the NFL level they should know what to expect going in. That’s cool with me. But Martin paid his rookie dues, and that BS was continuing into his 2nd year. That right there tells me this was more than the usual rookie hazing BS, and I think Martin made the right decision. I wouldn’t have put up with it after my rookie year either.

Surprising? No. Something that should be tolerated? No. I would rather watch games with fewer kick-ass moments but with the knowledge that the players’ health, both mentally and physically, is a top priority of everyone involved. As it is, I can’t enjoy the games at all currently.

Probably. There are some real arguments about how to handle that sort of thing. When you emulate an emotion, you start to feel it. Co-stars who have a romantic relationship between their characters can have a hard time not feeling that romantic relationship in real life either. Personally, I have the same issue as with sports. I have a hard time watching movies where I know the choice of acting techniques used by one of the actors fucked them up royally or fucked up their family life. A top-notch performance for me is not worth the cost they paid.

I skimmed the Whitlock article, but first read this story in the New York Times. I get the impression that there’s a difference in cultural attitudes and expectations. Martin is from an intellectual background; attended Harvard-Westlake and studied ancient history at Stanford. His parents were both Harvard alumni; his father is a college dean and his mother is an attorney at Toyota. Incognito, I gather, is more old-school when it comes to football.

A lot of people seem to be excusing the harassment as part of the culture of the NFL, but other workplaces and societies have grown up. So why can’t the NFL?