Before I even begin, I would like to preface all my comments with this. I am all too aware that mental diseases are a very real thing and they should be taken seriously, and I also do not in any way, shape or form deny the allegation that Richie Incognito crossed several lines that shouldn't have been crossed. That being said, despite everything stated in the report, despite all that's been said by the media...I still blame Jonathan Martin more than anyone else.
I was watching First Take the other day, and I learned something very interesting. According to one Stephen A. Smith, Jonathan Martin had mental problems dating back to JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL. Think about that for a moment fellow Phinsiders, he's been dealing with his own inner demons ever since he was a young teenager. So now the question might be, "Well then shouldn't we have even more sympathy for poor Martin?" The answer is absolutely and emphatically......yes and no.
"You're flip-flopping Luis."
Well no, not really. Listen I know people with mental issues, they're very difficult on everyone involved, including the victim. I feel sorry for Jonathan Martin in only this matter: He has mental issues, and they can be very difficult to deal with. With that being said however, how you choose to handle said issues makes a huge difference.
Now the reason I brought up what Stephen A. Smith is because he said something very profound...Martin had issues dating back to Junior High School, but the way he went about this whole scandal implied that Martin blamed Richie Incognito and the Miami Dolphins for making his life miserable.
It doesn't work that way, I'm sorry. If you had mental problems, which I fully acknowledge you have, then you should've gone to get help right from the very beginning, not allow this whole mess to ferment and cause a huge stink and in the process of doing so throw your entire team under the bus, be a contributing factor in us not making the playoffs, and possibly end the career of three men you considered to be your friends. No, just no.
The thing that makes him even more culpable in this is the fact that of all the things Martin did to "fix" this problem, he never actually told Incognito or the others to stop. That's all it probably would've taken. A man can respect when another man basically says "Don't you be talking 'bout my momma!". Some lines were crossed, and if Martin had just said "stop", they probably would've stopped.
"You don't know that! They could've made fun of him even more!"
No, I guess I don't know that for a cold, hard fact, but I can make an educated assumption based on my own past experiences. Have I ever been in a football locker room? No. However I do hang out at the local basketball court relatively often. Here's what I hear...
Does that give you some sort of idea of the language shot back and forth almost CONSTANTLY out there? Think about it for a moment. That isn't even an isolated event, it's in a public basketball court, where people are constantly taking walks, there's a playground across the park where little kids play...out of earshot of the court of course, but the point is there's no locker room to hide in, they just let loose.
Does that make it right? Absolutely not, I find myself wishing they would hold their tongues a little too, but I'm level-headed enough to realize the context all of those N-bombs, F-bombs, and S-bombs (18+ plus letter of the day is S, which stands for Sex) are in a friendly sort of context.
I'll let you guys in on something. There have been a few instances when tempers flared to the point where fights almost broke out, and the person who instigated it wound up leaving the park and driving away, screeching tires and all. Those people, just by casual observation, you could tell they weren't playing with a full deck. The difference between getting offended and shrugging it off is the ability to realize what context things are being used in, something Martin did not possess.
Now those people at the park do not change the way they act for the sake of that one person. They certainly don't change their language for the sake of this Christian boy, and I don't expect them to. I shrug it off and move on, I'm there to play ball with those guys and enjoy myself. There's also a certain code out there, and as long as you stick to it, they won't bother you and eventually you'll even find yourself a little group of people who you can build a sort of reputation with. But if they cross a personal line, you let them know that, and they won't go there again, that's the point of the group. If Martin had tried to tell them to stop, and then they didn't...THEN Martin would have truly been the victim here, because he would've at least given Incognito and the others the opportunity to step up and honor the brotherhood.
If this whole bullying scandal has shown me anything it's this...if Martin couldn't handle the locker room, he wouldn't be able to handle my local basketball court. Are the things that happen there right? No. Are they normal? Yes..for that location. Normal society doesn't act like that, but there are certain places where certain people will come to just sort of let loose and relax, show a little less restraint because they know they're all buds and it's a sort of brotherhood there.
Again, I won't pretend that Incognito and the others shouldn't be punished for what they did. They crossed lines that shouldn't have been crossed and there should be consequences. But at the same time, Martin couldn't seem to decipher that what was said was meant as a joke. A sick and crude joke that I would never repeat anywhere at anytime, but a joke nonetheless. If Martin's mental illness was keeping him from realizing that, then he shouldn't be out there playing football, he should be getting all the help he needs to overcome his very real mental issues.