Sports

November 5, 2013

Leading Off: There is no place in the NFL for bullies

On the surface, it seemed Jonathan Martin couldn't take a prank pulled by his offensive-line mates with the Miami Dolphins.

On the surface, it seemed Jonathan Martin couldn't take a prank pulled by his offensive-line mates with the Miami Dolphins.

So they wouldn't sit with him at lunchtime? Was it really enough for a 6-foot-5, 320-pound left tackle to throw down his tray of food and leave the team?

Underneath the surface, the answer was painfully obvious.

Yes, it was the final insult to a year-and-a-half nightmare that included racial taunts and verbal threats by Richie Incognito. For Martin's teammates who watched – or called him "Big Weirdo" – and did nothing to stop the abuse, they also deserve repercussions.

But in our society, we don't want to be the one to help when someone takes a beating. Instead, we whip out our cellphone camera to record the incident and post it on YouTube.

But what happens in NFL locker rooms usually stays in NFL locker rooms. While the Dolphins indefinitely suspended Incognito for his abuse, which was the right call, we don't know what Miami coaches or front-office personnel knew and when they knew it.

Could they have stopped the harassment earlier? Do NFL coaches ignore what goes on between teammates as long as they perform on the field?

With the NFL a billion-dollar business, it's hard to believe hazing is still allowed.

There will always be room in the NFL for intelligent, tough-minded players like Martin.

But there should be no place in the NFL for bullies like Incognito or those who tolerate abuse.

Today's poll

What should happen to Richie Incognito?

Let him return to the Miami Dolphins

Play for another team

Kicked out of NFL

Vote above, or go to www.sacbee.com/sports

Monday's poll results

What will you remember most about Barry Zito as a Giants pitcher?

Failing to live up to contract: 51%

2012 season success: 49%

Total votes: 191

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