Saturday, February 15, 2014

It Just Takes One

Linked forever
So the NFL's report on the Jonathan Martin / Richie Incognito affair is out, and it presents exactly the picture you'd expect: unrelenting awfulness in the worst frat you could imagine, with organizational malfeasance adding to the fun.

And what really strikes you, in reading this stuff, is just how much time and effort is taken in the simple acts of being an asshat. It also speaks to how Incognito's teams never go to the playoffs. Here, for once, is the kind of distraction that creates big L Losing.

Incognito and crew made a life of it, it seems, with fine books and meetings and coordinated efforts to, I don't know, teach a smart young player from a good school that none of these advantages would come into play while working in Miami. And this is where you get to how the underclass of America identifies with prison culture, and how jailing such a huge percentage of our populace (more than any other country? I'm guessing here, but it seems right) is harming us as a nation. But back to the individuals.

Simply reducing this to the acts of one terrible human being is, of course, simplistic and reductionist and inaccurate. No one comes into the world fully formed and warped, and Incognito's poor life choices can trace back to to his parents, coaches and friends, one assumes. Maybe he's simply not all that special, and there are dozens of similar predators lurking in NFL locker rooms, and this report is causing sleepless nights all over the NFL, and the destruction of a lot of evidence.

Which leads us to the only positive moment from this train wreck. No team in the NFL will ever employ Incognito again, and no player is going to want to be the second Incognito. And that means that Jonathan Martin is actually a guy who is going to make the NFL better, because he's going to bring the league, kicking and screaming, into the 20th (not the 21st) century in terms of human relations.

Look, I get that sports are different, and that the crucible of scoreboard combined with physicality combined with stunted intellects and hyper-critical might makes right is going to always attract marginalization, hazing, and so on. But all of that is part of the same level of excuses that led to sexism and racism and flat out abuse in offices back in the bad old Don Draper Days, and at some point, someone has to get this cesspool clean. If only because they really are making too much money to behave like penniless criminals, and too many kids are drawing life lessons from it.

Finally, this. The knee-jerk reaction from the mouth-breathers among us is, hey, Martin's a grown-ass man of 300+ pounds, and just shouldn't have been a victim. As if how a guy is wired, and his reads on psychopaths that wear his laundry and he has to work with are somehow germane to, um, the act of being on an offensive line. Consider all that you have learned about Incognito, and the remarkable ease of attaining a gun in this country. Even if Martin thinks he can "take" Incognito, and is sure that the team is going to take his side against an older and whiter teammate (oh, and Incognito is the clubhouse leader and the coach's pet)... well, how sure are you that this nutbag won't just bring a gun to work and end your life that way? Somehow, just appeasing the asshat seems like the wiser play, doesn't it? Especially when the asshat plays pro football, where anyone's career can end at any moment, and roster turnover is damn near constatn?

So please, folks, stop blaming the victim -- and note, too, that Incognito's evil gets others to go along with him -- teammates and coaches. Because that's what happens in bullying situations; it's never just the victim and the bully. It's the victim, the bully, the bully's thugs, what the bully has in reserve in case it stops going his way, and the surrounding world that seems to be utterly OK with what's going on, so long as it's not them getting the beatdown. What Martin's managed to do here is just make the surrounding crowd bigger, and less tolerant of idiocy.

That's a good thing.  And it just took one guy to make that change a reality.


Tracer Bullet said...

I think we're second to China in incarceration rates, but I'm not sure if that's by percentage of population.

I enjoy the argument that Martin should have just hit somebody in the mouth. What about the fact that he shouldn't have to put up with that bullshit in the first place?

CMJDad said...

You had to bring guns into the equation, didn't you? And here I thought you were above that. I'm not blaming the victim here, Incognito certainly looks to be a world class asshat, but to hear an NFL player calling someone a big, mean bully is kind of silly. Should he have had to deal with it? No, but act like a man. There are proper channels, a chain of command, to take this through. Martin, for all of his good school creds, comes off as someone you wouldn't want on your team. Face it, it's a brutal game. I'd rather have someone with the mental fortitude to handle the situation in a more, shall we say, grown up way.

DMtShooter said...

I'm supposed to be above the reality of life in America, and chain of command was the coach that was helping Incognito. Finally, the game's not that less brutal at the college, or even the big-time high school level.

I have no idea if Martin would have been a good player. I do know that Incognito has never been to the playoffs, and will never go. And given the Dolphins' ideas about personnel and coaching, it's kind of amazing that they have any good players at all...

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