Tarzan and the Miami Dolphins Line

There has been something bothering me from the start of the Richie Incognito & Jonathan Martin and it likely comes not so much from my age but the age of my parents.

My folks were born in the 1921 & 1924 respectively, they grew up in a hard era where a man was expected to be manly.

Think of the classic movie Tarzan the Ape man from that era (1932) Tarzan is not only a fit man, but he hunts, he fights, he stand up to every challenge, and consider even the white hunters when (Jane) Maureen O’Sullivan is tossed into the pit with a gigantic beast they don’t hesitate to go in themselves in an attempt to save her.

The cultural lesson was plain, a man was expected to be a man, to stand up and fight even in a bad spot.

As a kid I remember a fight I had with a bully. In one respect it was an embarrassing spectacle. He kept knocking me down and I kept getting up and charging back until finally another kid put a stop to it. On the other hand, I had stood up for myself and that fellow never bothered me again.

My kids were born in the early 1990’s in a totally different era & culture. I gave them very specific instructions to deal with bullies.

1. Unless a bully is armed stand up to him.

2. Don’t throw the first punch unless there is an insult to your mother and/or grandmother, if that is the case give one warning before striking.

3. If you are facing an armed bully back off and then go to a teacher.

These rules resulted on a single fight when my youngest had to deal with someone who continued to insult his mother. I was called to the vice principal’s office where I told him in no uncertain terms that my son had followed the instructions I had given him and if the situation was repeated he was expected to do the same.

My son was punished for violating the rules but privately the VP told me that he hoped given the same situation his sons would stand up for his mother in the same way.

and that brings us to this story in SI on the Miami Dolphins mess.

Football is a game of skill, it’s a game of strategy but above all it is a game of strength & endurance, particularly on the line. If you are a football player you hit and get hit for a living. If you are a lineman you hit and get hit even more than everyone else usually by people who are some of the biggest and strongest people in the country.

By definition a person who does this has to be physically & mentally tough. As Lydon Murtha put it in SI

Incognito was made a scapegoat for the hell coming down on the Dolphins organization, which in turn said it knew nothing about any so-called hazing. That’s the most outlandish lie of this whole thing. The coaches know everything. The coaches know who’s getting picked on and in many cases call for that player to be singled out. Any type of denial on that side is ridiculous. I have friends on more than a dozen teams, and it’s the same everywhere. What people want to call bullying is something that is never going away from football. This is a game of high testosterone, with men hammering their bodies on a daily basis. You are taught to be an aggressive person, and you typically do not make it to the NFL if you are a passive person. There are a few, but it’s very hard. Playing football is a man’s job, and if there’s any weak link, it gets weeded out. It’s the leaders’ job on the team to take care of it.

Even in a world where the manly values have been rejected The idea that a person employed in such a way couldn’t stand up for himself is bad enough but the consequences in the long run, are going to be worse:

Martin is on the opposite end of the spectrum, but no more likely than Incognito to return to the NFL if he wants. In going to the media with his problem, Martin broke the code, and it shows that he’s not there for his teammates and he’s not standing up for himself. There might be a team that gives him a chance because he’s a good person, but the players will reject him. They’ll think, If I say one thing he’s going to the press. He’ll never earn the respect of teammates and personnel in the NFL because he didn’t take care of business the right way.

If this kind of thing continues, as one ex player said concerning rule changes concerning hits, you might as well fit the players with flag belts now and get over it.


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