Persecution is persecution

Allegations show how bullying can occur at any level

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Plenty can be said about the alleged locker room harassment that prompted a Miami Dolphins offensive lineman to pick up and leave the team in mid-season.

But nothing that can be said about it is more important than this:

If a 300-pound lineman can be bullied so badly that he gives up, then no one should be ashamed of being a victim.

The case of Dolphins lineman Jonathan Martin, the alleged victim, also presents us with an important lesson: that bullying must be taken seriously by others in power, no matter the age of the people involved, or how big the recipient of the abuse is.

Miami swiftly and unceremoniously suspended the alleged offender, fellow offensive lineman Richie Incognito, for conduct detrimental to the team after Martin abruptly and mysteriously left last week.

Since Martin’s exit, allegations have surfaced that Incognito harassed Martin mercilessly and, at least once, racially. Reports also indicate Incognito had a problem with such behavior as early as his freshman year at the University of Nebraska. USA Today reports he made a teammate walk out there, as well.

Reports now indicate the Dolphins may have some culpability as well: Two sources say the coaching staff may have instructed Incognito to “toughen up” Martin.

That accusation was being compared by some to the “code red” harassment of a Marine by his peers in the movie A Few Good Men. If true, the coaching staff has some questions to answer. Harassment and abuse are no way to toughen anyone up, even in the smash-mouth National Football League.

The culture of the NFL, and sports in general, has come into question in the past week because of this incident. The unpleasant truth is that hazing, harassment and bullying can occur at every level, from elementary school to professional teams.

While horseplay will ever be with us, and having to pay one’s dues as a rookie or new recruit is a time-honored rite of passage – usually done in a most lighthearted manner – there’s a difference between testing a man’s moxie and outright abuse.

We hope the NFL and its players association continue to take this matter seriously. There’s horsing around and then there’s thuggish torment.

If these allegations are true, then you have to wonder why any team would employ Incognito again.

On the bright side, the episode could be a godsend to abuse victims of all sizes and ages. It’s a reminder that persecution is persecution, and that no one has a right to do it to anyone else.

It also should serve as a ray of hope to anyone else going through it. Again, if an NFL player can be bullied to the point of desperation, there’s utterly no shame for any other victim.

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Riverman1 11/07/13 - 07:02 am
Criticism of Criticism

I guess y’all never saw Rocky where his trainer belittled and pushed him to become a champion? Sports require coaches and other players getting on those not performing up to standards. Where does this criticism of criticism end? Should boxers not be pushed and challenged with harsh words?

I played football and was cussed out more than once and made to do horrendous drills, but all that made me a better player. I began my Army career as an enlisted man when sergeants didn’t care about hurting your feelings….or your body for that matter.

Vince Lombardi is turning over in his grave. Read accounts of those who played for him. They feared him mentally and physically. He would attack players in meetings with his fists if he saw something they had done wrong on film. He said, "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing."

Martin was having psychological problems and overly sensitive to the motivation. Incognito wanted him to be a better player to help the team. He wasn’t trying to run him off.

billcass 11/07/13 - 07:32 am
A day late

All very interesting. Except, of course, that it is a day late. The news from yesterday contradicts Martin's story and your editorial. Every Dolphin player has come out in support of Incognito and said that he and Martin were like brothers. Sadly, this appears to be a combination of Martin's mental health issues and his opportunistic handlers and family. But don't let the facts get in the way.

ymnbde 11/07/13 - 08:28 am
Augusta Chronicle, are you being bullied?

perhaps it wasn't just one rich football player
picking on another rich football player
perhaps it was a kid raised poor getting revenge on kid
raised rich?
the old class struggle that democrats play every day?
oh, i get it now... race was involved...
okay, lets go there
are you afraid to write the "racial" disparity between
white on black rape vs black on white rape? I'm sure you know it
why? are you being bullied?
are you afraid to mention the 3% of the population
committing over 50% of violent crime?
and how that must carry over in the public schools?
why? are you afraid?
are you afraid to find out how many doctors each local high school
has graduated in the last few years?
why? are you afraid to expose the charade that is public education?
are you, too, being bullied?
are you at your own point of desperation? are you ashamed?
is that why this was such a poorly written article?

Gary Ross
Gary Ross 11/07/13 - 09:20 am
There are other ways

For one, I can't stand aggressive behavior from anyone. Whether it be a terrorist from another country wanting to kill us, to the the inconsiderate driver on the highway. I went through BCT during the VietNam War, and there is a big difference between trying to get someone to achieve something through harsh words or actions, and pure harassment which this article is trying to portray.

GiantsAllDay 11/07/13 - 10:10 am
Without bullying from someone

Without bullying from someone of a different race, Zack Mayo would not be the sucessful man he is today.

deestafford 11/07/13 - 10:49 am
I've heard snippets of both sides of this situation and it seems

to have more loose ends than a bowl of spaghetti. It does appear that Incognito was a thug in many ways and lacked discipline all his college and pro careers. Of course, some look at those two as attributes for being able to do an outstanding job in the trenches of the offensive line.

Michael Ryan
Michael Ryan 11/07/13 - 11:27 am
Billcass, you may be right in

Billcass, you may be right in the end, but I don't think the view of the locker room is necessarily controlling in this case. One former coach at another team said Incognito was out of control. We'll see...

Red Headed Step Child
Red Headed Step Child 11/07/13 - 12:15 pm
Rites of passage

I'm all for them - when they are done in good fun with good intent. There is such thing as a time when enough is enough and lines get crossed.

Toughen someone up? Be careful of your methods. Makes me think of Full Metal never know if you're going to end up with someone snuffing themselves or opening fire on innocents. Is it really worth that?

Riverman1 11/07/13 - 12:32 pm
Mike Ryan, just for the

Mike Ryan, just for the record, I believe that former coach you are talking about is Herm Edwards. He works on ESPN now as an analyst, but he has been out of coaching for a few years and never coached Incognito. I'm guessing he had to say the politically correct thing about the incident.

Michael Ryan
Michael Ryan 11/07/13 - 02:18 pm
Nope, Riverman, not him. As a

Nope, Riverman, not him. As a KC fan, I don't listen to a word Herm Edwards says!

Riverman1 11/07/13 - 02:54 pm
Ah, that's right. You came

Ah, that's right. You came from Kansas to Augusta. Herm did coach KC for awhile as you know. I guess that's why you don't care for him. Quite a season they're having under Andy Reid. Not a bad team to be pulling for.

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