Colin Dunlap: Jonathan Martin Should Be Praised
Few know what truly happened between Dolphins players Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin that forced the former to be suspended and the latter to leave the team after claiming he was a victim of continual bullying.
What is known, loud and clear, is that as this situation is still ongoing many of you have shown your true Neanderthal, uncultivated and heathenish side.
Guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
I expected more, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
Naturally, the situation — taking the reporting on it as fact right now — has been a topic on my radio show on 93-7 The Fan for a good portion of the past few days.
Know what the overwhelming response both on the radio and on Twitter has been from many who I have interacted with? The description goes like this, again and again …
“Martin is a big boy. He shoulda stood up and punched Incognito in the face. I mean, that’s what I woulda done!”
First, OK John Rambo — aren’t you just so tough. And I’m also guessing that there’s zero chance you would have done anything of the sort to Incognito, who is a tremendously-imposing being at a heavily-tattooed 6-foot-3, 319 pounds.
But that aside and more to the point, what would this have solved in this instance? What would a right cross to Incognito’s face have accomplished?
I will answer that one for you. Nothing.
In reality, it would have just exacerbated the situation.
Before you draw any conclusions, this isn’t a case of me being a sissy, namby-pamby or some kind of softie. Ask anyone who knows me and they’d quickly confirm that I am, generally, the first guy who is willing to sign up for a fistfight.
But not this time. This one is different.
In this instance — again taking the news accounts as fact — what Martin did by walking away and then reporting the incident to Dolphins brass was not only the correct action but was wholly commendable and noble.
Let’s play it your way and say that Martin would have elected to bust Incognito in his mug, right there in the lunchroom where the situation came to a head. What would have happened from there is that Martin, already labeled a disappointment on the field who hasn’t played up to his draft slot, would have then also been labeled a problem off the field; a cancer in the locker room.
How would that have alleviated his problem or helped Martin get to, potentially, the point in his career where he wants to achieve at a higher level? Again, I will answer for you — it wouldn’t have.
Certainly I’m not naïve to the element that professional sports locker rooms are non-traditional workplaces, as, in doing what I do for a living, there is an almost-definite chance that I’ve been in more of them than you have as you read this column.
I’ve seen what goes on; I understand how it works.
I’m also not naïve to this: No matter how non-traditional, those locker rooms are still workplaces. A modicum (probably more) of decorum should still be expected even as men walk around naked and take expected barbs at each other about everything from playing ability to how someone looks and to who their girlfriend has slept with.
In sum, even in a non-traditional workplace such as the one in which Incognito and Martin attempted to coexist, there are lines that should not be crossed. If all that is being reported is true, Incognito undeniably crossed some lines.
The issue for me, as it pertains to you, is the reaction. There seem to be far too many people who are questioning — and even vilifying — Martin for his lack of wanting to get even by using his fists.
Instead of doing that, how about we applaud the guy for making the right decision?
How about we applaud the guy for making the tough decision?
It isn’t always easy to walk away.
Jonathan Martin did.
And, right now, it appears he’s exponentially a bigger man than Richie Incognito.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weeknights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his bio here.