There’s probably gonna be casualties aplenty following the release of Ted Wells’ investigation into the bullying of Dolphins OL Jonathan Martin ; for starters, there’s the end of Richie Incognito’s Twitter account. Then there’s Miami head coach Joel Philbin and offensive line coach Jim Turner, both of whom were thoroughly buried today by the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero (“Philbin never won the trust of his players and others in the organization because Martin and the other players and trainers and staffers who were harassed were more afraid of breaking trust with Incognito”). But if we can be wildly
naive optimistic for a moment, perhaps the Wells report’s more sickening details will hasten the demise of a particular type of jock/fuckhead culture, or at least make it slightly less socially acceptable. Slate’s Emily Bazelon suggests this is “a watershed moment for the NFL”,
I’ve recently been thinking a lot about a point made by Richard Weissbourd and Stephanie M. Jones of the Harvard School of Education: Empathy doesn’t just mean understanding someone else’s feelings. It means valuing them. Otherwise, understanding twists into manipulation. That’s the dark place where fellow feeling took Incognito. Since Martin left the team, Incognito has protested that all the joking was mutual and in keeping with standard locker-room banter. He released selective texts between himself and Martin and tweeted at his former teammate that “the truth is going to bury you.” (To state the obvious: If you have zero impulse control, stay off Twitter.)
It turns out that Incognito buried himself with the evidence he produced. Incognito and other offensive linemen kept a book of fines, docking players for everything from farting to lateness to wearing ugly shoes. In that book, he fined himself $200 for “breaking Jmart” in the hours after Martin left the team. And then he issued five fines to Martin:
Incognito’s treatment of Martin was part of a pattern. An unnamed assistant trainer got called “Jap,” “Chinaman,” “dirty Communist,” and “North Korean.” Incognito, Jerry, and Pouncey talked to him in a mock Asian accent and gave orders like “give me some water you fucking chink.” Nobody intervened, including head trainer Kevin O’Neill, who allegedly laughed. No one confronted Incognito or his henchmen. The assistant trainer didn’t want to cooperate with the investigators, saying he didn’t want to lose the trust of the team. But he texted to Martin, after Martin’s departure, “They are relentless sometime. … Some day I wanna do exactly what you did today.” The investigators draw the obvious conclusion: The trainer had no standing to fight back and feared the loss of his job if he protested.