Last week, Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin unexpectedly walked out of the team’s facility and left the team – citing emotional problems.
Since then, more details of his departure have emerged, and a longstanding problem in NFL culture – which has largely been kept quiet over the years – is now at the forefront of the league’s attention.
According to reports, Martin – a second-year player – had been repeatedly bullied and threatened by teammates and it finally reached a tipping point last week when his offensive line-mates refused to sit with him at lunch. One teammate, Pro-Bowl guard Richie Incognito, is alleged to have been behind much of the harassment, and the Miami Dolphins announced last night that he has been suspended indefinitely while the team and the league investigates. Incognito denies the allegations.
In one documented incident, Martin claims Incognito forced him to contribute $15,000 to fund a trip to Las Vegas for the offensive line, even though he himself wasn’t going, and was threatened with consequences if he didn’t. Martin has also turned over racist and threatening texts and voice mails he says he received from Incognito.
But this may be the latest episode in a longstanding tradition of bullying or hazing that veteran players take part in targeting younger teammates – things like forcing younger players to carry veterans’ equipment or pay for their expensive meals. Many believe the treatment is bullying and needs to be stopped, while many veteran players see it as young players simply paying their dues, just as they once had to. (Sports Illustrated)