Brian Mitchell on bullying in sports
Redskins captain London Fletcher weighed in on the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin situation on Tuesday, saying he’s disappointed in the Dolphins’ locker room leadership and that he expects the NFL to crack down on bullying as a result of it.
“I was very disappointed in that locker room down there in Miami,” Fletcher said. “When you hear the reports that are coming out… you have a young guy, a guy who’s in second year in the league, [so] I’m sure what was happening to him was happening to him as a rookie, as well. It’s on some veterans in that group, in that locker room, to step up and put a stop to that.”
Fletcher added: “I know Incognito is, I guess, the main culprit. I don't think he’s probably the only guy that will end up coming out as being a guy who was giving Jonathan Martin a hard time, going beyond what the norm is and what you see. …What seems like what’s going on there was beyond hazing, beyond your normal rookie-type deals. I’m real disappointed in the leadership in the locker room down there in Miami. Who [were] the leaders on the team? I know Jonathan Martin didn’t feel comfortable enough to go to any of the guys because either you’re encouraging it or you’re turning a blind eye and allowing a guy to get treated the way he got treated. That was the biggest thing that disappointed me about the situation, was that there wasn’t a veteran guy strong enough to stop what was happening to that young man.”
According to reports, the NFL is investigating the relationship between Incognito and Martin. Martin left the team last week after a lunchroom incident and Incognito has been suspended indefinitely by the Dolphins.
It’s also been reported that Incognito directed profane language and racial slurs against Martin.
“Not from a white person, from a white guy, you know, a white teammate,” Fletcher said, asked about the alleged epithets used by Incognito, who is white, against Martin, who is mixed. “What he said …shows racism, bigotry. To leave a voicemail like that. He was very bold. …You can’t allow somebody to be that comfortable around you to use that type of language at all.”
Fletcher says he’s never seen anything like the Miami situation in his 16 seasons in the NFL. Fletcher also added that Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan prohibits hazing.
“Sometimes rookies take things the wrong way,” Fletcher said. “They may get offended about that. So you may have to diffuse that situation down. This goes beyond that. I’ve never been in a locker room where we had to get involved anything like that.”
Fletcher said he it’s the job of the players to deal with locker room issues.
“It starts with the players first and foremost,” he said. “Coach Shanahan would have heard about somebody getting slapped with a [lunch] tray, or something, if that would have happened in our locker room. The players, first and foremost, need to patrol their locker room.”
Fletcher also believes the Dolphins’ situation will lead to changes in protocol.
“I think there will definitely be some type of mandate that comes down, some type of memo that comes down league-wide telling guys what is and what’s not acceptable,” he continued. “You can’t do what they were doing down there. That was flat bullying. That right there was beyond the scope of anything I’ve seen. It will probably lead to a change in the culture of the NFL as far as what is acceptable, what is okay and what’s not okay.”