Over the past week the Miami Dolphins and offensive guard Richie Incognito have been embroiled in what’s been termed a “bullying” scandal by the national media.
It began with second year tackle Jonathan Martin leaving the team after a prank in which he sat down amongst his fellow offensive line teammates and upon his sitting down his teammates left the table, a prank that Jonathan Martin himself participated in only days earlier. Martin flipped out, slammed his tray on the table and left the team’s premises.
It was later unveiled that Incognito sent Martin a voicemail in which he called him a “half-ni**er” and said he wanted to “**** down your throat” and slap his mother. Incognito has written this off as locker room banter, and teammate Brian Hartline seemed to corroborate that story, saying Martin went around to other teammates the day after the voicemail was left and was laughing about it.
All of Incognito’s teaammates have rallied around him, saying that they were all razzed in similar fashions to those that Martin were. While his racial epithets are impossible to defend, reports have surfaced saying within the locker room, Incognito was considered a “honorary black guy” and used the N-word liberally among teammates and the word didn’t carry with it the sting which it obviously would in everyday society.
To further complicate the story, Martin sent several texts to Incognito after the story broke implying that he didn’t blame his fellow teammates saying, “Wassup man? The world’s gone crazy LOL I’m good tho congrats on the win” and “Yeah I’m good man. It’s insane bro but just know I don’t blame you guys at all it’s just the culture around football and the locker room got to me a little.”
This story is sure to develop further as more and more details come out, but for anyone to come out strongly on either side of the issue at this point would be foolish. This is obviously a multi-faceted story which, regardless of the racial overtones, needs to be considered in the context of the jock culture and not on the basis of what is regularly accepted in our everyday lives. It’s readily apparent that what we consider offensive, athletes in professional locker rooms do not consider to be nearly as offensive.