Apathy

I told you I wasn’t going to hold my breath.

The National Football League’s Miami Dolphins did exactly what I thought they would: Put on a united front instead of doing the right thing regarding the – and I detest having to say alleged – bullying of second-year offensive tackle Jonathan Martin by guard Richie Incognito and others within the team.

I swore I wasn’t going to revisit the subject of bullying because it’s such a sore subject with me, a festering wound that never quite healed, but I refuse to do what the Dolphins have done to protect one of their own when he most needed their help: NOTHING, NADA, ZILCH. And their very apathy is perhaps the biggest crime of all.

Moreover, team owner Stephen Ross – at the very least – should have done more than text Martin in his bid to personally reach out to him. You TALK to him. He needs to brush up on his sensitivity skills because a text would have left me stone cold. I’ll go one step further and strongly suggest he take a course or two in the dos and don’ts of basic human interaction. But then, that’s just me and my old-fashioned ways in this impersonal age of technology.

And the interview of Incognito by Jay Glazer of Fox Sports? To say it was an embarrassment to journalists everywhere is, well, an understatement. Glazer should be ashamed of that farce.

Let the sarcasm begin …

Nothing like the hard-hitting, unbiased Glazer to get to the heart of the matter, especially since, you know, he has a personal history with the guy he was supposed to be interrogating. Glazer made it a point to preface his laughable questioning of Incognito by making sure the rest of us were aware that he’d known and been “friendly” with him for about five years and had trained him in his mixed martial arts program. Talk about a conflict of interest. So much for journalistic integrity.

Don’t believe me? Watch the extended version on youtube. I watched and listened VERY carefully, and I got even madder each time I did.

Too bad that sorry excuse for an interview left the rest of us formerly and presently in the journalism world scratching our heads in bewilderment. Not just because of all the questions that went unasked, but because of all the questions it raised.

I’m not one to gamble, but I’m willing to bet Incognito knew exactly what he was going to be asked beforehand. He sounded a little too well rehearsed, don’t you think? He certainly was NOT sincere, no matter how earnest he TRIED to ACT. He was more concerned about saving face than anything else. But then, I guess it really DOES pay to know certain people, in more ways than one.

Martin left the team Oct. 28 following an incident in the Dolphins’ cafeteria. Incognito told all of the offensive lineman to get up from the table as soon as Martin sat down, a prank in which he said the younger player has partaken himself in the past. Martin then threw his plate on the floor and left, he added. OK, so that seems harmless enough. A little cold, mind you, but no biggie.

But it gets worse. Much worse. And I’ll get to that shortly. But I need to address Martin’s psyche, the situation from HIS perspective. Through the eyes of a victim, if you will.

As someone who was bullied on a daily basis for many years myself, I believe Martin probably did the same things I did just to get my tormentors to leave me alone: Attempted to befriend them, laughed it off, played along with them for as long as he could stomach it, did whatever he felt necessary to make it stop. But it didn’t work. It never does, believe me.

You feel trapped, like you don’t have a voice. That’s when they KNOW they have you right where they want you, and a part of you dies inside. Day after day after day.

Bullies have a nose for fear. They sense it, feed off of it, and they don’t care who they hurt because it’s all in good fun to them. And no one is safe.

As I’ve said before: Even big guys get bullied.

Nobody wants to be a tattletale. I get that. We all like to think we can handle our own problems on our own terms without making a big stink about anything, but as many of us have learned the hard way, that isn’t always possible. We often go about handling our business the wrong way, and I’m sure Martin didn’t always make the right choices. I’ll freely admit it because I’ve lived it.

Martin texted Incognito a meme he obviously got online featuring a smiling woman holding what looks like a ridiculously smiling dog that said, “I will murder your whole f*cking family.” It was disclosed by Martin’s own lawyer.

Was it the right thing to do, considering the shockingly explicit and racist texts and voice mails that Incognito sent Martin dating back to 2012? Of course not! But, again, Martin most likely acted and spoke on Incognito’s and his cronies’ low-life levels in an attempt to fit in to deflect their bullying. I’m in no way excusing or condoning or even remotely defending that kind of behavior because it IS unequivocally wrong, just trying to help you understand a victim’s mindset.

Ask yourself this: How would you – and I want you to be brutally honest with yourselves – react if you were bullied every single day? Our gut reaction, our first instinct is self-preservation. We’ll do damn near anything to protect ourselves. It’s in our nature. We’re only human, after all, but two wrongs never, ever make a right.

And even after all the abuse, all the bullying, Martin STILL tried to placate Incognito, a nine-year veteran, according to texts he received mere days after his teammate’s and supposed friend’s abrupt departure. Incognito reportedly shared them with Glazer after that so-called interview.

Just know I don’t blame you guys at all it’s just the culture around football and the locker room got to me a little.

I repeat: Self-preservation.

I think Martin finally reached his breaking point that day in the cafeteria, silly though the incident may seem to some, or many, of you. He simply couldn’t deal with it anymore, and I can relate to him, to his feelings of utter helplessness in a seemingly hopeless situation that he endured for almost two years. It took courage for Martin to leave a job he loves, to seek help, to find someone who WOULD speak up for him when the Dolphins simply would prefer to sweep it all under the rug like it never happened.

Enter sports attorney David Cornwell.

Cornwell said in a recent statement – mainly in answer to Martin’s own teammates’ criticisms regarding his manhood and toughness – that their treatment of him is the real problem. He alleged that Martin was physically attacked by one of them and was forced to listen to vulgar commentary directed at him every day. Most of you already know that Incognito called him the N-word, threatened to slap him and his mother, defecate in his mouth and kill him. Cornwell also said another teammate threatened to gang-rape Martin’s sister. REALLY?!

Not at all what I’d call a friendly work environment.

Furthermore, it is purported that Incognito pressured Martin into shelling out $15,000 to help fund a trip to Las Vegas for a group of players last summer. Martin did not go, but forked over the money for fear of retribution if he did not, according to reports. Former Miami lineman Lydon Murtha since has quite dubiously explained that Martin backed out of the “pre-paid” trip and shelled out the cash anyway because he originally had agreed to go.

You mean to tell me that they couldn’t find another teammate to go in his place, if that, indeed, WAS the case?! RIGHT. If you buy that, then I have some hot air to sell you.

Martin’s own teammates have thrown him under the bus, siding with Incognito like I predicted they would. Too bad they’re all too gutless to tell the truth. What I find most ironic, though, is that Miami wide receiver Brian Hartline accused the media of bullying the Dolphins for doing its job: Reporting the news. Funny how the media is good enough for Hartline and his buddies to use to all but call Martin a crybaby sissy for having the moxie to come forward, albeit via his lawyer, and say, NO MORE.

Which brings me back to Glazer, his unasked questions and the pulpit he provided for his pal, Incognito, to spew more crap than you’ll ever find in all the sewers of the world combined.

Glazer did NOT ask Incognito if the coaching staff told him to “toughen up” Martin and whether he took that request too far, never mind the fact he had a sign clearly posted on his locker stating he hated rookies.

Glazer did NOT ask Incognito why he uses the N-word so disgustingly often in the locker room if he’s not the racist he says he isn’t, even though most of the rest of us know better.

Glazer did NOT ask Incognito to identify the player who said he was going to gang-rape Martin’s sister when he should have pressed him, nor did he even bring it up in their little conversation.

Glazer did NOT ask Incognito how on earth he can refer to his bullying of someone he alleges to care about as – and I quote, “coming from a place of love” – when he shared that heartwarming revelation with us, sounding, instead, like an abusive husband calmly justifying why his wife deserved to be beaten.

Glazer did NOT ask Incognito to come clean about his alleged sexual assault of a female volunteer at a team charity golf tournament just last year, especially after he claimed to have changed his wayward ways since joining the Dolphins in 2010.

And, perhaps most glaringly notable, Glazer did NOT ask Incognito – who was booted from two college programs AND the St. Louis Rams – why on earth his teammates bothered to vote him onto the Dolphins’ leadership counsel this year knowing all too well what transpired at that golf tournament.

How did Glazer refer to the assault again? Oh yeah, “an incident at the golf course.” That was it. Just a dismissive reference, a mere afterthought in passing as they chatted it up.

No charges were filed against Incognito – big surprise there – but the volunteer hole monitor told police in a report that he was drunk and rubbed her vagina, stomach and chest with his golf club before using it to knock off the sunglasses atop her head. He then pressed his genital area against her buttocks like he was dancing as he said “Let it rain! Let it rain!” After which, he dumped his bottled water on her face.

But hey, Incognito’s a self-described “good person.” Sorry, Richie, but I’d have to argue that point. And I’d win every time.

The woman is not allowed to speak about it publicly because she signed a confidentiality agreement, which is just another way of saying that the Dolphins PROBABLY paid her off to keep her quiet. It doesn’t take a genius to figure THAT out. It’s called damage control.

Incognito said a lot of things to Glazer that just didn’t sit well with me. He obviously hasn’t learned anything from his – get ready for a good laugh – mistakes. He still doesn’t get it. Sure, he looked a bit sheepish for getting caught on voice mail saying the N-word, but only because he can’t refute hard evidence. What I have a hard time grasping is how could he NOT see that his words and actions, and those of others, were hurting a man he professes to be a close friend, a brother, a teammate?

And if the voice-mail transcript leak read ’round the world didn’t come from Martin, if he really didn’t say anything to anyone, then who did? I’d personally like to thank the person who had enough of a conscience to do SOMETHING, ANYTHING to put a stop to the bullying.

Incognito – who was suspended indefinitely by the Dolphins while the NFL continues its investigation – talked about perhaps changing his ways yet again, since none of the other gazillion times apparently did the trick. Come on, now! Be realistic. How many times is it going to take you, Richie, to comprehend that you’re as capable of changing as a leopard is its spots, or a zebra its stripes? Not going to happen.

As for Ross, he said all of the right things in a couple of interviews I watched, but I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that he hadn’t had a face-to-face meeting with Martin in the 17 days since the youngster left the team, that he didn’t at least phone him, that he somehow didn’t try hard enough. Texting just doesn’t cut it for me, but you already know that,

Anyway, Ross plans to meet with Martin sometime today, but it’s almost like it’s too little, too late. Business first, people second, I suppose.

And therein lies the problem.

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