Hazing on the Miami Dolphins
by Anthony Scurto on Friday, November 22nd, 2013
Over the past few weeks, the Miami Dolphins have been making news every day. The team has received such recognition not because of their play on the field, but because of their actions off of it. Offensive lineman Richie Incognito allegedly bullied second year lineman Jonathan Martin to the point that Martin recently left the team.
For the last few weeks, it has been a tale of two stories. While Martin accuses Incognito of extreme hazing and using racially charged terms, Incognito claimed he was extremely close with Martin and that the incidents were just a classic example of guys being guys. That being said, Incognito has not been the model citizen throughout his football career. He left Nebraska to attend Oregon, then was expelled two weeks later for “failing to meet team requirements.” He was later voted the “Dirtiest Player” in the NFL by the players just a few years ago. To say Incognito is a friendly player would be simply erroneous. This conflict has brought about many questions regarding conduct in football locker rooms and how initiations should be handled.
In pro football, younger players picking up the tabs at restaurants and grabbing the pads after practice have become rituals that are the norm in the NFL. However, Incognito allegedly took team initiations to a whole new level by holding mandatory meetings in strip clubs and punishing players who didn’t attend these meetings. Many players reported feeling uncomfortable explaining to their loved ones why they had to go to a strip club at ridiculous hours in the night.
Examples such as this one make you see why Martin was disconcerted by the atmosphere he felt with the Dolphins; nonetheless, there are other parts of this story where you question whether Martin should have just taken matters into his own hands and dealt with Incognito in person. The individual to blame for this debacle is not Head Coach Joe Philbin, for there is only so much he can control. He is coaching professional football played by grown men; he is not a babysitter. If these instances happened at the college level and Philbin were in charge, it would be a whole different story, and Philbin would need to be fired. However, in the professional league, there is a different standard where the leaders on the team, not coaches, police the locker room. The struggling Miami team most likely cannot wait for this problem to go away so they can focus on winning games and not answering questions from the media about this topic. Finally, the management took a large portion for this month’s events by suspending Incognito from the Miami Dolphins for conduct detrimental to the team.
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