Week Ten picks coming up… but a few thoughts on the Richie Incognito situation. If you haven’t heard, he’s gotten himself in a touch of trouble. (I know it’s hacky to point out the irony of his surname, but seriously… the guy’s named ‘Incognito’!)
First off, mouth breathers defending Incognito and anyone else in the Dolphins organization right now should pipe down for their own good. History will not smile on those defending this.
The excuse “you don’t understand if you haven’t been inside an NFL locker room” foolishly conflates the place where players put on their jockstraps with a ship out to sea where society’s laws don’t apply. Call me soft, but the act of large men getting handsomely paid to run into each other on purpose isn’t essential enough to justify this tribal-tatted frathouse drill sergeant leading the charge against basic human decency. Likewise, the notion we should excuse this behavior because “that’s how it’s always been” makes as much sense as not curing polio because walking with a limp is how it’s always been.
So far at least, the 24-year-old Jonathan Martin hasn’t delivered on the promise scouts saw in him coming out of Stanford. Maybe his teammates and/or coaches have correctly diagnosed the reason for this is his inability to fight, to “flip the switch”, to push back at a position predicated on repeated sumo-style brawls. Whether they’re right isn’t the issue, though. It’s their collective hubris in thinking they’re the ones to “fix” it. Darren Sharper – who spent time in three different NFL locker rooms – told me, “Whatever the guy is when gets in there is who he is… his teammates aren’t gonna change that.”
Debating whether or not Incognito is a racist serves only to distract from the issue of bullying. For the record, though, here’s one of Dave’s Gauges for Evaluating Racism: a white guy calling a black guy the ‘n’ word. In other words, Incognito is a racist. Yeah, you may say, but what about black guys directing the word at each other? Much more complicated… in fact, one of the last century’s greatest wordsmiths, Richard Pryor, debated it internally over the course of his career. If that’s not good enough, maybe you should just ask Riley Cooper if he thinks using the word is a good idea.
Those Dolphins players insinuating Jonathan Martin is being somehow cagey or disingenuous now after laughing and hanging out with Incognito for the past year tells me they’ve never been on the wrong end of threats involving one man’s poop going into another man’s mouth. As you may or may not know, I’m not a psychiatrist… but it seems clear his motive was to diffuse the abuse by showing it wasn’t affecting him (with a touch of Stockholm Syndrome mixed in). And by the way, is it really farfetched to suggest other players who participated in bullying would defend Incognito?
Something occurred to me listening to some typically dopey Los Angeles sports radio guys in front of the Lakers facing Dwight Howard for the first time since he ditched L.A. for Houston. They mocked Howard for his cowardice and lack of respect for their hero Kobe Bryant, then un-ironically switched gears to bash Incognito. The two narratives being sold are different (thanks to Kobe’s royal status in L.A., the result of those titles he helped deliver), but the bones of the bully vs bullied stories really aren’t that different.
Consider this verbal Venn diagram between Kobe and Richie:
- Both were enabled as team leaders in spite of checkered personal pasts
- Both were tasked – either by themselves or at the behest of coaches – with toughening up a sensitive guy’s perceived lack of “killer instinct”
- Both leaders received support from teammates
- Both referred to the guy they bullied as “my little brother”
If pro athletes and coaches would dismiss everything else I’ve said by holding me up as another example of our society going soft, here’s one thing they should consider: in the cases of both Incognito v Martin and Kobe v Dwight, neither bully did anything to “toughen up” the guy they were bullying, but they did both ultimately hurt their teams by chasing off the two younger players. Seems to me that kinda goes against their excuse for bullying in the first place… but what do I know? I’ve never been in a locker room.
On a different note, I’d be much obliged if you’d take a look at our new show ‘The NFL Weekend Preview’ – it’s me, it’s Adam Rank, it’s Akbar Gbajabiamila, it’s Dan Hanzus, it’s fun! This week’s topics include: who’ll get the AFC’s second wildcard, who’ll win the MVP if Peyton Manning doesn’t & Cam Newton v Colin Kaepernick.
And now, let’s get to the Week Ten picks…
Do NOT continue reading if you don’t want to know the scores of the Week Ten games.
(9-4 last week, 0-1 this week, 87-49 on the season)
S. Hauschka: 49-yd FG w/:08 remaining
J. Flacco: 274 yds, 2 TDs
L. McCoy/E. Lacy: 132 yds, TD each
C. Fleener: 87 yds, 2 TDs
E. Manning: 402 yds, 3 TDs, 3 INT
L. Bell: 91 yds, TD
C. Johnson: 207 yds, TD
C Kaepernick: 24-yd TD run
C. Keenum/C. Palmer: 7 total INT
V. Miller: 3.5 sacks
P. Thomas: 157 yds/scrimmage
TB D: 6 sacks
Enjoy the games, everybody! I hope your team wins (unless they’re playing my team).