Last season it was Bountygate, and few years before it was Spygate, and now this season we have what I like to call “Bullygate”. The Miami Dolphins scandal that seems to have taken over the NFL. Where offensive tackle Jonathan Martin complains he was harassed and subject to racial epithets by fellow offensive lineman Richie Incognito.
The subsequent bullying led to Martin leaving the team, and Incognito to become the poster child for bad behavior in the NFL workplace. But the NFL isn’t your typical workplace, so should typical workplace rules be enforced in NFL locker rooms? Well from a legal standpoint yes, because if someone chooses to sue, then $millions could be at stake.
However, if this is simply a harassment complaint, isn’t that something that happens frequently in corporate America? Then why is it so special in the NFL? Former NFL defensive lineman Chuck Smith once said that football is a “violent game played by violent men”, and if that’s true, then why should this bullying incident come as a surprise?
Hazing and “toughening up” has been a part of football since the stone age, and Jonathan Martin isn’t the first one to go through it. But he may be the last. As just like with Bountygate, I can see the NFL creating some new rules that prohibits hazing, and any other type of ritualized rite of passage on NFL teams moving forward.
And for the main reason I mentioned earlier, lawsuits. The bigger the NFL becomes, the more scrutiny it faces from mainstream America. Moving forward, what’s said and done in locker rooms is no longer subject to stay there, as long as there is one guy who doesn’t like what’s going on. So the NFL got rid of bounties, and now they’re about to get rid of bullies as well.