Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Dolphins' Hazing Incident Punches a Hole in the NFL Machismo

Richie Incognito: Today's NFL? Tomorrow's NFL?

The American Human isn't dedicated to sports, although I like a good game as much as the next sports fan. Back in the day, going to a 49ers game was better than Disneyland.

Football is rapidly devolving into a "dudes signed up for this shit so what?" enterprise. And I understand that it's not insane to say that about athletes/entertainers who bet that the millions are worth it against the chance that they'll end up one of the losers.

But when the curtain is pulled back and what we see is the undeniable cruelty of a man like Richie Incognito, then we've got to wonder if we who provide the millions for these Neanderthal "warriors" aren't culpable. Hint: we are, we bloodthirsty bastards. Again, many will say "so what steroids and hard hits are part of the game get over it."

But Brian Phillips of Grantland says it better than I ever could:
Warriors make war on warriors. There's no room for crying in this game. You have a problem, you handle it on the field. Handle it as a man. Go down swinging. I hear you, NFL, and that's why I'm not here to move you or persuade you. If you have a penis and feelings, you'd better cut one of them off. I'm here to start a fight.
Because this — this idea that Jonathan Martin is a weakling for seeking emotional help — this is some room-temperature faux-macho alpha-pansy nonsense, and I am here to beat it bloody and leave it on the ground. Every writer who's spreading this around, directly or by implication; every player who's reaction-bragging about his own phenomenal hardness; every pundit in a square suit who's braying about the unwritten code of the locker room — every one of these guys should be ashamed of himself, and that's it, and it's not a complicated story.
 Read the whole thing. It's right on and some of the best sports writing I've read since I don't remember.


  1. This is important? This is what gets our dander up? Not the Patriots paying 10 million to a gun-toting gangster. Not the other 36-and-counting current NFL players arrested since the Super Bowl? Not Aldon Smith or Ahmad Brooks? Not the hundreds charged with crimes during the last 7 years that Goodell became commissioner? And not even the billions of dollars expropriated--sorry, I meant to write appropriated-- from taxpayers to build and remodel our local 'Colesseums'? Not the head trauma chickens come home to roost?

    No, this is what gets us really upset: Ritchie Incognito calling another player "nigger" and making some comically empty threats on his answering machine. This is what constitutes going too far. Let's throw Incognito under the bus in the hopes of stopping the PR bleeding. Just keep whistlin' past the graveyard where the amazing corruption of the NFL is buried. No, we need to finally call this out for what it is. It's bullying, by God..and it's cruel...and...something else, I'm sure. Of course, even though I have followed this sport near religiously for fifty years, I am truly shocked at...this hazing stuff (did he really call him a half-nigger?) I mean, I'm a Democrat after all, what am I supposed to do with that?

    We, the fans, have helped create this mess. We have built this house, this Colesseum, stone by stone. We started turning our eyes from the ugliness of it all in high school, where guys like Hernandez and Incognito first learned that somehow the rules of good behavior didn't apply to them. Many of worst bad boys were able to go to college and we joked it was better (and cheaper) than jail (see Fullmer Cup). Once there, we welcomed them into our fraternities and laughed at their pranks and didn't admit we were afraid of them at times. And even when they had firmly established themselves as deviant members of society, we didn't cancel our season tickets when they were hired by our local team. And when they were away for awhile while suspended or in rehab or even jail we welcomed them back (it's supposedly better for their mental state if they are allowed to play while waiting for their court date). And we didn't protest when money our poorest communities needed was diverted to the bring the Raiders back to Oakland or keep the Vikings in Minnesota. What would LA give to get an NFL team? What wouldn't they do.

    This sport is corrupting at every level it's played (think high schools are telling parents how dangerous football really is?). Why do we, as citizens, students, taxpayers, and parents, and politicians continue to add stones to this corrupt colesseum?

    If we've gone along with all this so far, why do we care about Jonathon Martin? Is this supposed to salvage our self-respect? Well, I apparently have none.

    I like the Niners Sunday.

  2. Funny but true. After I wrote this, I watched the Niners game, too. Go figure.