NFL should clean up its mess
To the editor:
It is well that the Richie Incognito muck broke into the news. The NFL should come to grips with the “initiation” of rookie football players. Actually, initiation is a euphemism for hazing that bullies can use to beat up or humiliate others. The practice creates a haven for misfits who enjoy hurting others. Judging from Incognito’s past record he fits the definition of misfit. It should not be a badge of honor for Incognito to be called the dirtiest player in football. The victim, Jonathan Martin, was a second year player and he was still victimized, not only by Incognito but other players who left a dinner table to leave him sitting alone.
Vicious street gangs use hazing to instill loyalty to their membership and to desensitize members. This should not be accepted in the sports world even though defenders like Jared Allen maintain it sometimes has merit. Unfortunately, Geraldo Rivera recently commented that big adults should be able to “take it.” Hurting other people either physically or mentally is assault. To force an individual to cough up $15,000 to pay for someone else’s vacation is extortion. The social pressure to keep quiet or be labeled a sissy as one who can’t take it is powerful. In a civilized society one should not to be placed in that situation. In another workplace setting this would rightly be called harassment.
Bullies in assault or extortion situations should be held accountable in a court of law. If Neanderthal coaches encourage such behavior to toughen up players, they should be fired without severance pay. Hopefully any investigations of the Dolphins will include the head coach and his coaching staff.
Both Brad Childress and Leslie Frazier prohibited “initiations” as detrimental to the Vikings team spirit. Good football players do not need to be tough thugs. Reggie White who played for the Green Bay Packers did not have to be desensitized to be the force that he was. We need more responsible people like that in the sports world.