While I don’t respect a man who deserted his team, I do have sympathy for Jonathan Martin. That feeling may not be as widespread throughout the NFL.
Martin has spoken for the first time since he left the team, creating the “Bullygate” scandal. Martin has made clear his desires to play in the NFL again in an interview with Tony Dungy on Tuesday.
Martin said he left the Miami Dolphins due to feeling “trapped” by the constant harassment he was receiving. He explained it was the “persistence” and “personal nature” of these instances which made him feel as though the only way out was to leave the team. Martin also said that there were others who received harassment, but he didn’t know why he got it worse.
The reality of this situation is simple and will soon be revealed by the report that New York attorney Ted Wells will be presenting in the coming weeks. Rookie hazing is prevalent in the NFL. It’s usually the mid-year guys who have recently experienced hazing and want some pay back. The veterans will sometimes join in, but they will know when to put an end to it.
The most experienced player on the Dolphins roster at the beginning of the season, besides long snapper John Denney, was Richie Incognito. A team that was formerly stacked with leaders like Reggie Bush, Karlos Dansby, Kevin Burnett and Brandon Marshall (who I’m sure is one of the few who sympathizes with Jon Martin) was suddenly left with the leadership of Incognito who, despite being in his ninth year in the league ,was clearly too immature for the role.
Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin wanted the players with leading voices who would possibly stand up against him gone so he and former GM Jeff Ireland scrapped the leaders, who were also some of the Dolphins’ best players, and filled the gaps with incapable replacements.
“Bullygate” and an 8-8 season were the results.
I’m sure Philbin had a high enough opinion of Incognito’s character to believe he matured from his checkered past, but leaving only Incognito to police Incognito in the locker room was not the wisest choice.
With that being said, Martin obviously made himself an easy target.
There is no way Incognito would key on Martin unless he was easier to pick on. It’s bullying 101: Don’t let the guy bully you and he won’t bully you. People can respect a man who stands up for himself no matter the outcome. Running away from the problem doesn’t exactly warrant the same respect.
Martin showed the lack of mental toughness not because he left the team because he was being bullied but because he allowed himself to be bullied in the first place. I feel sympathy for Martin because once he was getting “bullied” you would then expect Incognito to be mature enough to stop.
The saga is embarrassing no matter how you look at it, and as a Dolphins fan I am glad it is in the rear-view mirror. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross publicly slipped up and stated he doesn’t expect either Martin or Incognito to be back with the team next season. This happened on the same day that part of Martin’s interview with Dungy aired and Martin made his intentions to try to play in the league again clear.
Will either of the two former “best friends” play in the league again? Right now it is unclear, but there is always a team willing to take a shot. After this ugly soap opera, though, I wouldn’t hold my breath.
One thing’s for sure; you won’t see either Martin or Incognito in a Dolphins uniform again.