As soon as I heard the words, "bullying" and "racial", I knew there would be a huge indictment by the media and certain pundits on Incognito, who so eagerly jump at the opportunity to mold this situation into their constructed narrative of our society.
Just to preface the remainder of this article, I certainly don't know all the details of this situation (and neither do you) and from what I can ascertain, Incognito is a grade A jackass whose potentially banned NFL career will not cause me to lose any sleep. I also do not condone the use of the N-word and have never understood the point of hazing in professional sports. In fact I've always reserved a bit of respect for the otherwise toxic Dez Bryant when he caused a stir over his refusal to carry Roy Williams' shoulder pads as a rookie.
However, I can't help but scratch my head at why exactly Incognito has been suspended beyond the presumption that the Dolphins organization was pressured to in anticipation of imminent PR reprisal, regardless of what the facts are.
Here's what I do know. Jonathon Martin is a 6'5", 315 lb professional offensive tackle with a $5M contract to play a violent sport in which toughness, both physical and mental, is a premium. Yet the "final straw" that caused him to walk out on his team was a lunchroom practical joke in which he is isolated at a table?
And the series of "racially-charged" voice messages left by Incognito involving calling him out, referring to him as a "half-N*****" (a term used frequently in a jokingly manner among teammates, both black and non-black alike), and threatening him with violence while laughing couldn't possibly be anything less than literal? We're also supposed to assume that Martin was so terrified by Incognito that he agreed to bankroll a $15,000 Las Vegas trip without anymore details provided on the situation. Meanwhile, several of Incognito's (black) teammates have actually defended him and there haven't been any reports of his ill-will towards other teammates (particularly Pouncey who was a rookie two years ago and plays next to him).
I can agree Incognito is highly inappropriate. However it's also pretty obvious Martin is a bit soft and as a high second round pick with a lucrative contract, his play has been subpar which could be due to a poor work ethic and/or lack of toughness. Perhaps the primary intent, though executed poorly, of Incognito was to toughen up Martin. After all, when a player is given a $1.9M signing bonus after being selected with the team's second pick, there isn't much you can do to further "motivate" them if they aren't willing. Recall Andre Smith as a rookie with a contract almost as fat as he was moping around in desperate need of a kick in the ass.
While many may view this as an isolated incident with justified punishment enacted (which I could eventually agree with, given more information) and scuff at the political implications, it is still troubling nonetheless as this provides yet another jolt to the perpetual softening of our society - and more specifically another step towards the softening and eventual prohibition of football in America.