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1 Introduction Bullying Masculinities In late October 2013, the news broke that National Football League (NFL) Miami Dolphins’ right tackle, Jonathan Martin, walked out on the team and checked himself into a mental health institution in Miami. The original story stated that Martin had gone “AWOL” and insinuated that Martin could not take the pressure in professional football (Smith 2013). Within days, the story changed. News sources reported that Martin’s teammates had repeatedly bullied him under the leadership of Richie Incognito, an experienced thirty-­ year-­ old Caucasian guard. Martin, a twenty-­four-­year-­old African American player who was in the beginning of his second professional season, suffered serious emotional depression as a result. The initial response by the media was skeptical. How, commentators asked, can a 315-­ pound, 6’5” tackle for the Miami Dolphins be bullied (Dahl 2013)? Many opined that the harassment involved was merely locker room banter—­ roughhousing and hazing—­ which all football players endure. In fact, a majority of Jonathan’s teammates—­ both black and white—­ seemed to express this sentiment. Other members of the NFL suggested that it is all in the game. One has to be tough. Richie and the others never meant to harm Jonathan. It was all in good fun (Murtha 2013; Phillips 2013). Boys will be boys. Reports also emphasized that Martin’s elite educational and personal background may have made him too “soft” to endure the rough-­ and-­ tumble atmosphere of a major league football locker room (Brinson 2013). Martin had graduated from a private high school and Stanford University; his parents were Harvard graduates who raised Martin in an upper-­ middle-­ class household, a fact to which some commentators attributed Martin’s inability to stand up to roughhousing in the NFL. A few days after the initial reports of bullying, the text of a voicemail that Richie Incognito had left on Martin’s phone on April 6, 2013, 2 | Introduction emerged. In the voicemail, Incognito stated, “Hey, wassup, you half-­ nigger piece of shit. I saw you on Twitter, you been training 10 weeks. I’ll shit in your fuckin’ mouth. I’m gonna slap your fuckin’ mouth. I’m gonna slap your real mother across the face [laughter]. Fuck you, you’re still a rookie. I’ll kill you” (Wells et al. 2014, 99). The voicemail caught the attention of management because it raised serious concerns about race and violence in the NFL; when the Dolphins discovered the voicemail, the team suspended Richie Incognito from play (Wells et al. 2014). The NFL hired Ted Wells, a well-­ known African American white-­ collar criminal defense lawyer who practices at the respected law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York City, to conduct an investigation into the facts surrounding the Martin/Incognito affair. After interviewing more than one hundred witnesses and with the help of a consulting psychologist, an expert in matters relating to workplace dynamics, Ted Wells and his colleagues published the Report to the National Football League concerning Issues of Workplace Conduct at the Miami Dolphins (2014; hereafter, Wells Report ), which made factual findings but did not take a position on issues of legal liability. Wells and his colleagues had constant access to an expert psychologist, Dr. William H. Berman. The use of an expert in psychology was forward looking and important because many of the behaviors involved, especially those of the alleged victim, belied common expectations. The Wells Report documents serious verbal abuse, including bullying, mistreatment, and racial epithets directed toward Jonathan Martin, with Richie Incognito as the leader of a group of players who picked on Martin. It also documents similar serious verbal abuse of at least one other player and racist bullying of a trainer of Japanese origin. While the report concludes that upper management was unaware of the abuse and was serious about furthering respect among the players, it also suggests that at least two coaches knew of and/or participated in the abuse. The Martin/Incognito story captured the media’s attention because of the specter of a physically large professional football player who was unable to protect himself from childish antics of his teammates. Most were concerned about the racist comments directed at Martin. Issues of race and class were front and center. Here we had a white, lower-­ middle-­ class guard from New Jersey who was harassing a black player who had Introduction | 3 majored in classics at Stanford. The situation appeared to be a type...


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MARC Record
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