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Fight or Flight: What would you have done if you were Jonathan Martin?

NFL: Miami Dolphins-Training CampWhat do you tell your kid if he calls you up and says some huge oaf is threatening you and extorting money from you?  What if your kid went to Stanford,and you are a Harvard trained lawyer?  Do you tell him to try to kick his ass and take your beating, or tell him to go to the coach – who would laugh at him.  Do you say nothing and just hope he doesn’t go home and get a gun?
Was Martin a “pussy” for walking away? did he break the “man code,” or was he a highly educated man with other options than playing football on a team that allows things like this to happen?
Jonathan Martin, seen here during an NFL rookies' camp in 2012, allegedly received threatening texts and voice mails from teammate Richie Incognito that included racial slurs.

Jonathan Martin, seen here during an NFL rookies’ camp in 2012, allegedly received threatening texts and voice mails from teammate Richie Incognito that included racial slurs.

Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins have suspended a veteran player indefinitely, after he allegedly sent threatening messages that included racial slurs to a younger teammate. The NFL is investigating what is being called a case of hazing and harassment.

Veteran guard Richie Incognito is alleged to have left intimidating messages and texts on the phone of second-year offensive tackle Jonathan Martin, who left the team last week. The Dolphins had not previously provided details to explain Martin’s absence.

As for Incognito, “He’s done” in Miami, a source tells The Miami Herald. The source continued, “There are procedures in place and everyone wants to be fair. The NFL is involved. But from a club perspective he’ll never play another game here.”

Martin, a Stanford graduate who was a second-round pick by the Dolphins in the 2012 NFL draft, is the son of two lawyers. He was a classics major at Stanford, according to NPR’s Mike Pesca, who adds that Martin also considered Harvard, where he would have been the first ever fourth-generation African-American at the school.

But at the Miami Dolphins’ facilities, Martin was called “big weirdo” — a moment from last year’s training camp that was chronicled on HBO’s Hard Knocks NFL show. Transcripts circulating today show that he was called far worse names more recently, as Incognito reportedly used slurs referring to Martin, who is biracial.

“Martin left Dolphins headquarters [last] Monday when finally reaching his limit with the persistent bullying and teasing from some teammates that has plagued him since joining Miami,” reports Fox Sports. The network says Martin left the team after “a group of players stood up and left when he tried joining them for lunch.”

After leaving Miami, Martin went home to California to be with his family. According to Fox Sports reporter Mike Garafalo, Martin remained in California today.

“Martin shared texts and voice mails with his parents on Saturday, and turned them over Sunday to the Dolphins and the league, according to sources close to Martin and involved in the investigation,” NFL News reports. “The evidence implicates Incognito and, to a lesser extent, Dolphins center Mike Pouncey.

A transcript of a voice mail that has been circulating Monday describes an offensive and expletive-laden message, allegedly from Incognito. It also uses a racial slur and threatens violence. The NFL and Dolphins have heard the voice mail, according to NFL News.

The issue has been a hot topic, as NPR’s Mike Pesca tells Melissa Block on Monday’s All Things Considered. And the discussion has grown more serious as details have emerged.

“Today, the revelation of these texts and more details about what actually happened changes this [from] a discussion of if a large person can be bullied, to where we are now, which is real harassment, possibly criminal,” Mike says.

“The broader issue is hazing in the NFL,” Mike says. “Hazing goes on in the NFL much more so than it does in a lot of other institutions.”

Mike says that the NFL is a private enterprise where hazing is often seen as harmless — but it generally means “rookies have to carry equipment; sometimes rookies are made to pay very large bills when the veterans go out to eat,” he says.

The Miami Herald reports that if Martin was the target of hazing, he wasn’t alone.

“Incognito pressured Martin into paying $15,000 for an unofficial team vacation to Las Vegas – a trip that Martin didn’t even join,” the newspaper says. “One young defensive player, whose privacy the Miami Herald is protecting, is on his way to going broke because he has been unable to say no to the older players, a source said.”

As for what punishment the NFL might dole out if the current allegations are proven, Mike says, “The commissioner, Roger Goodell, has leveled heavy fines and heavy suspensions for things that embarrass the league. It’s not hard to think that Roger Goodell will act up on this very fiercely.”

On Sunday afternoon, the Dolphins said in a statement, “We received notification today from Jonathan’s representation about allegations of player misconduct. We are taking these allegations very seriously and plan to review the matter further.”

The team said it had contacted the NFL about the allegations.

That message contrasted with the tone of a Dolphins statement issued earlier on Sunday in which the team said, “The notion of bullying is based on speculation and has not been presented to us as a concern from Jonathan or anyone else internally.”

 

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What Happens When We Give Writers Two Weeks Before a Superbowl? HOMOPHOBIA!

being-gay-in-the-nfl-the-secrets-the-culture-the-pressure-the-fear-of-coming-out-and-the-changing-attitudes-feature1Oh for God’s sake. “We can’t have gay’s running around in our locker rooms?” Well, you have female journalists in them.

What in the hell are you talking about? You really think an NFL player is going to fear for his genitals because another professional in the next locker happens to have another sexual proclivity? You think he’s going to be so turned on by your steroid infused bulk that he cant control himself and is going to violate you while your on the bench press?

The rest of humanity seems to get along pretty well with communal weight rooms, and showers. Are you so daft as to think that in SF bay area we don’t run into (some openly) gay people at the gym every day?

Frankly, the gay men I know have far too much taste to embarrass themselves by lowering their standards to meet the common football player. Certainly not in a locker room.

 

 

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Do the Next Right Thing, No Matter How Much It Hurts, and You Will Feel Amazing!

Back when I was working with CityTeam, a local non-profit, we had lots of interaction with professional athletes as donors.  It was the heyday of the 1980’s 49ers and lots of hall of fame players were very active in philanthropy.  There was Ronnie Lott, Dwight Hicks, Merton Hanks, Jerry Rice, and Joe Montana.  In our group the “old man” who had been around the longest and known most of these guys was Don Pitts.

I had heard that he made several t-shirts for a benefit, and had Merton Hanks sign them.  I had just attended a signing with Jerry Rice and had him sign a football and a Wheaties box with his photo on it.  Over the years my friends had given me a signed Jerry Rice 49er game helmet, his SF Jersey, a couple of game balls, etc. so the Wheaties box was no big thing to me at the time…. Or so I thought.

At the prospect of giving up anything “Jerry” my kids whined a little, but to be honest it was my decision, and me having the second thoughts.  After all, a Jerry anything was worth far more than a Merton anything, and Don had a stack of the T-shirts.  I informed him that the box was not available.

Being the gentleman Don is, he said nothing and gave me a couple of the T-shirts anyhow.  The years went by, my wife and I were divorced, the man-cave was disbanded, all of my 49er trivia somehow dissipated and moved into my much smaller (because it has to double as a sound studio) garage.  Every time I went into the studio to play music, which was quite often, I would see the Wheatie box and think of Don.  There was always an accompanying pang of guilt, and a firm commitment to try to get hold of him and give him his box.

The guilt got a little worse every time I thought of him, his kindness, and my own selfishness.  The phone call to the people he had worked with to see if he could be located was never made.  The times that the guilt pricked away at me are too numerous to count.  It wasn’t until one of my friends actually LinkedIn with Don that the “update” came over my computer stating that Don was now friends with  Mike, and that the God of my understanding was putting him in front of me for a decision.

Don was contacted and graciously said that yes, indeed he would still very much appreciate my sending him the Wheatie box, settling my 11 year old debt.  He had never said a word to me about it, which probably added to my torture. Why is it that sometimes it takes an act of God to get us to do the right thing?

The simple act of going down to get a box to mail this thing to Don has made me feel as though the weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders.  If such a simple thing can have such an effect on my view of myself, how many other things can we think of that are things we can “set right?”  Have we shorted someone on a bonus due, refused to pay a commission or a referral, carried a grudge, backstabbed someone, or took home an extra ream of paper from work without asking the boss?

These things affect our karma, and how we regard ourselves.  Together they can form an unpardonable weight.  Each acts like a tiny stone in the backpack we carry around with us every day.   Empty that pack and you will walk much taller.

 

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