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What’s a football bully look like?

Published 12:02am Saturday, November 16, 2013

The storm has died down a little bit since last week’s overwhelming coverage of bullying in the NFL, the centerpiece of which was the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin incident.
If you don’t know the details of what happened, good for you. If you’re like me, it’ll only set you off.
What is bullying? We’ve all heard the word tossed around in school or at work, but what does it actually mean to an athlete?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a bully as “a blustering browbeating person; especially one habitually cruel to others who are weaker.”
Interesting. By that last part of the definition, I’d call a lot of athletes bullies.
The Alabama Crimson Tide are “bullies”, since they habitually beat up almost every team they play by at least 20 points or more. It can be considered cruel, and the general consensus is Nick Saban and his players are the antithesis of “weak.”
Do athletes bully each other, on the same team? Apparently they do. Based on what ESPN uncovered, NFL players, often rookies, are subject to some serious tough love from older players.
Stories about paying thousands of dollars for meals or expensive Las Vegas trips sent a red alert through the league. Name-calling, threats and whatever else you can think of were brought up.
So what’s going on in those locker rooms, especially Miami’s?
To make a long, long story short, Incognito, a lineman for the Dolphins, severely bullied his teammate Martin. Apparently fed up with the harassment, Martin went public with what Incognito said to him. Now everyone’s on their tippy-toes trying to see how deep “bullying” runs in the NFL.
This isn’t the place to quote what Incognito said or did to Martin. It’s rough, and it’s inappropriate.
Martin is a 6-foot-5, 312-pound behemoth whose job is to knock people over with his body and protect the man with the football.
Assuming what Incognito did to Martin really got under his skin and had any sort of negative emotional effect on him, I can’t help but wonder why he didn’t stand up for himself.
This isn’t a middle school bullying case (and I’d like to make clear that bullying in school should not be tolerated under any circumstances). If this situation were to happen in a Bearcat locker room, I’d hope the “bully” was kicked off the team.
But Martin is a grown man who essentially shattered his NFL career because he couldn’t make a stand for himself.
This is football we’re talking about here! What Incognito did is wrong, so step up and make things right. Become a leader in the locker room, or get the leaders on your side.

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