What if Your Locker Room Leader…is a Bully?


Incognito & Martin


By now everyone is familiar with the NFL story of Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin; Martin skips OTAs, coaches (allegedly) instruct Incognito to “toughen him up”, the harassment continues to a point where Martin walks away from the team (and files a formal complaint), and Incognito is indefinitely suspended by the Dolphins.

We have heard everything spanning from “he is a racist, bully, and a bigot” to “that’s how we police our locker rooms“. Consequently, blame has been spread out from Martin to Incognito and everywhere in between including the coaches, organization, jock culture, and the NFL.

There have been legitimate points made to support all of those in varying degrees.

If you follow or have played team sports, you are aware of the hierarchy; leaders emerge or are anointed based on tenure, experience, and performance. Your leaders can be superstars or marginal role players. They are the mouthpiece of the team, and the other players look to them for guidance, motivation, and support.

But what if a team’s leader is a bully?

By all accounts, Incognito is a dirty player and has a dubious past. As information continues to leak (and teammates continue to have his back), it is obvious he was a significant presence in the Dolphin locker room.

What hasn’t gotten a lot of attention is  the guy that represents the team behaves in a way that directly reflects terribly on the organization. This is not a Terrell Owens – Me Against The World situation. His teammates are almost universally backing him.

The coaching staff (allegedly) instructed Incognito to square Martin away…and he did so and then some. In a fashion that is both alarming and socially relevant.

My blame here is on the man who ultimately presided over placing Incognito in a position of leverage – Head Coach Joe Philbin.

By doing so, he allowed him to use whatever means he felt necessary to fix the problem. And as many dim-witted bullies will do, he resorted to irrational and irresponsible behavior (backed by teammates who respected him in his position of power).

Richie Incognito is a shitbag. But that was known way before Jonathan Martin walked away from the Dolphins.

Philbin (and/or his OC and OL coach) gave him the means to use whatever corrective action he felt necessary.

When will Philbin be held accountable?


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