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Making Sense of the Miami Mess
November 11, 2013 - Al Stephenson
I've been reading a lot about the controversy in Miami. Haven't understood what's going on yet, but I keep reading. Offensive lineman Jonathan Martin - who stands 6'4" tall and weighs 320 pounds - left the team and has accused fellow players of bullying him. For many people, the size of Martin makes that concept implausible. The main target of Martin's unhappiness (for lack of a better word) is one Richie Incognito, (there would be a place for a joke about his name here if the charges weren't so serious), an All Pro lineman with a checkered past.
Some of the terms that come to mind in trying to make sense of this situation are political correctness, context and tough love. Incognito was supposedly trying to administer the latter with comments that don't sit very well with a lot of folks in this era of political correctness, but he claims a lot of the comments were taken out of context. All of this makes sense - and then again it really doesn't.
Incognito, who is white, used racial slurs on Martin, who is biracial. He used some disgusting comments that many people outside a locker room find, well, disgusting. He was doing this in part, so some sources say, because the coaches asked him to "toughen up" Martin. To add to the confusion, reports suggest that when Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland was approached by Martin's representatives about the abuse, he suggested Martin deal with it by punching Incognito.
There are so many subplots to this whole affair that we will probably never know the whole truth. Is Martin a big baby? Is Incognito a racist? Is head coach Joe Philbin likely to lose his job over this? The answers are A) Not necessarily. B) Probably not. A jerk, a knucklehead, an idiot (my brother used that term on me when we were growing up - talking about context again), but not necessarily a racist. C) Wouldn't be a bit surprised.
Will the subculture of the NFL locker room change as a result of this situation? Some I suppose, but don't expect too big of a change.
The view from my seat would suggest that there is one element here that is important. Young people will be affected by the outcome of this situation. If it sends a strong message against bullying then a positive will come out of what appears to be an almost comical mess.
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