Richie Incognito stands accused of bullying Jonathan Martin and, as you might expect, is almost universally condemned. But, as you might not expect, some NFL players criticize Martin, too.
The two Miami Dolphins offensive linemen made national headlines when Martin walked away from the team and Incognito was suspended indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team after Martin’s representatives turned over a voice mail with racially charged threats.
Denver Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton thinks Martin broke the code of the locker room by leaving it.
“Everybody in the NFL knows that when you’re a young guy and when you’re with the O-line you’ve got it the hardest,” Knighton says. “I mean, that’s been going on for a while. … I don’t know where they crossed the line at; maybe (Incognito) said something personal.
“I feel like, as players, when it is player-to-player, it can be handled as players. It can be addressed. I don’t think (Martin) should have gone outside the team and expressed how things are going in the locker room.”
That’s not only a player perspective. Duke professor of sports psychology and sports ethics Greg Dale thinks it is a male perspective.
“I was teaching my class at Duke to a group of undergrads, and we were talking about this very thing in class,” Dale says. “And the comments from several of the young men were, ‘Well, he really needed to man up. He’s a man, and you’ve got to handle that on your own. He shouldn’t have walked away.’ And that’s the core of the problem right there.”
Hank Nuwer, associate professor of journalism at Franklin College in Indiana, has written multiple books on hazing, including Wrongs of Passage. He says it is common in athletic hazing cases to blame the victim.
“Either he doesn’t measure up or he’s a sissy for reporting it,” Nuwer says. “Or he doesn’t understand that Incognito was just trying to toughen him up. It’s always put that way.”