The Ted Wells report on Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin is jarring. In its aftermath, the NFL must come up with a code of conduct in the locker room and the workplace. It must clearly state how people should treat each other; what is acceptable and what is not.
This is a classic case of an impending train wreck: two locomotives speeding toward each other cloaked in the darkness of the night, both unchecked with no brakes and nothing to stop the disaster.
It’s too late for Martin in Miami — and many others – but the timing is spot on for Michael Sam, the future of youth and athletics.
There is no way to defend the language that Incognito, John Jerry and Mike Pouncey used. It is disgusting and shameful for me — as a football player and a father — to hear my colleagues acting in this manner for an extended period of time, opposed to a one-off incident where you lose your mind.
Let the blame not only fall on Incognito, Pouncey and Jerry. It also must rest on Martin. At some point in time, you have to have a backbone and tell people how you feel. Instead of telling his abusers, Martin told his mom and mommy is not going to be able to fix everything … and especially not this time.
As a defense mechanism, Martin assumed the same personality as his abusers and engaged in some of the same language. This threw fuel on the fire.
It’s evident that Incognito instigated this whole ordeal and no one in the entire locker room had the guts to stand up and do the right thing. Martin perpetuated it by not standing up. I’m not casting blame on Martin for their behavior, just for the way he handled it. Martin has had a history of being bullied dating back to high school.
Here is the saddest part: With more than 100 interviews conducted by the Wells report, there was no one to pull Martin up and no one to pull Incognito, Pouncey and Jerry down.
Again, this was a classic train wreck. No brakes. Nothing to stop the disaster.
I hope Martin and Incognito both receive the psychological help they need. Both players have been punished and suffered enough. Now is the time to heal.
The NFL is survival of the fittest, where only the strong survive. However, this time these two players cannibalized each other and both fell. Neither one of them might see the league again, but the optimist in me hopes they both bounce back.
And, more importantly, here’s hoping the league collects itself, puts together a plan and makes sure this type of behavior never happens again. Quite simply, it can’t happen again.
Hear more on this subject from Brendon, Scott Fujita and Coy Wire on the very first "Unconventional Wisdom" podcast, recorded when the Martin story first broke. (WARNING: Some explicit language)