There are bullies all over the place in the world. It’s an unfortunate fact, but it’s the truth. Not long ago most thought that bullies only existed in schoolyards and that grownups were immune to their torments, but we now know that isn’t the case.
And we know that professional sports aren’t immune to bullies either. Richie Incognito, who made a career out of being a bully on the field, apparently couldn’t draw the distinction between harassing defenders on the field and harassing teammates off it.
After months of speculation and leaked tweets, an independent report requested by Roger Goodell has said unequivocally that Incognito acted inappropriately. The NFL can’t let this stand or they are saying that it’s alright to bully a teammate. That’s a terrible message to send.
Instead, the NFL should make the statement that professional football is not different than any other workplace when it comes to harassment and bullying. That statement would be made by suspending Incognito for a significant period of time, even as much as one full year.
Incognito is currently a free agent and looking for work. Teams know that he can help them on the field, but he brings a cancer to the locker room that cannot be tolerated. They need to send the message that they don’t condone harassment in their league.
The NFL has a great opportunity in front of them to do the right thing here. They can step up to the plate and punish the party that deserves to be punished.
Incognito acted like a classic bully, and from his public statements he doesn’t appear to understand that what he did was wrong. Maybe if he spends the next season watching from home because the NFL says they don’t want him around he’ll get the message that bullying isn’t alright.