I don’t know whether to be cheered or depressed by the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin story. On the one hand: How disgusting, that Incognito, this hulking goon, could have gotten away with bullying his teammate for so long:
Martin, a classics major who attended Stanford and is the son of two Harvard graduates, left the Dolphins last week after an episode in the cafeteria in which teammates stood as Martin sat, the last in a string of perceived slights. Incognito, a 30-year-old veteran with a reputation for dirty play and a history of rough behavior, was suspended indefinitely by the Dolphins late Sunday while the team and the league investigated the matter.
Their unfolding saga is forcing the National Football League to uncomfortably turn its gaze toward locker room culture and start defining the gray areas between good-natured pranks and hurtful bullying.
The story’s your basic train wreck, how two linemen, one intelligent and sensitive and one nasty and cruel, ran into one another in the locker room and everywhere else.
Incognito — what a name — resembles, in so many ways, every significant bully I’ve ever known. Stupid, brutal, user of dumb hashtags:
“Enough is enough,” he wrote to ESPN’s Adam Schefter in one (tweet). “If you or any of the agents you sound off for have a problem with me, you know where to find me. #BRINGIT.”
So all of that’s depressing, even though there’s a certain dog-bites-man element to learning that the super-macho NFL has a bullying problem. What’s heartening is that somewhere along the line, this sort of thing became unacceptable. And that sportswriters are now writing things like this:
Own it. Even now, even after the extent of Incognito’s viciousness has been revealed through voice mails and texts to Martin, there are NFL personnel people telling reporters, like Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter, that it’s a man’s game and Martin failed to handle it like a man. According to these unnamed men, Martin should have manned up and handled the situation face-to-face, with his fists if necessary.
You know — like a man.
Seriously, though, did these men’s men read the things Incognito reportedly said to Martin? Don’t we encourage people not to deal with the deranged, to let the professionals handle it? Does anyone believe Incognito would be cowed by a confrontation?
To blame Martin is to ignore reality and uphold the twisted norms of the misguided subculture that allowed this type of environment to persist and — dare we say — thrive. It’s also a willful refusal to connect the threat of violence to the reality of our gun-soaked, disrespect-me-and-pay-the-price ethos that has people like Aaron Hernandez sitting in jail.
So. Good knee news, bad knee news: The joint is enormously improved. I can walk with one crutch, and a cane would be even better. Slowly, up and down the block Wendy and I go, but we go. The bad news? My family practitioner thinks I have ACL damage — “it feels loose,” he said, after manipulating it into several positions, a couple of which made me wince, a couple more that didn’t. So, you veterans of the knee wars know where it goes from here. MRI next week, a visit with the orthopedist, and then we discuss our options, if there are any. Just keeping you posted.
Is it only Wednesday? How is that possible?