November 8th, 2013

Bullied Martin not likely to return to Dolphins, nor should he

Jonathan Martin, the bullied offensive lineman, speaking through his attorney said that he “looks forward to getting back to playing football.” This possibly may happen. We predict it will not be with the Miami Dolphins against whom he has registered the complaint that launched an NFL investigation.

As bullied targets know so well, once a complaint is filed, retaliation is the norm (in 99% of cases, in fact). Organizations cannot stand exposure as a place that fosters bullying even though it happens nearly everywhere. They tirelessly defend hurtful actions. They direct attention away from their management-approved actions by attacking the complainant. Pay no attention to what happened to Jonathan Martin — even though we now know coaches ordered the mistreatment and the general manager thought Martin weak for not punching Incognito — instead notice how “withdrawn and shy” Martin was. As if he “deserved” mistreatment.

Essentially the Miami Dolphins and all Incognito apologists are saying is that interpersonal abuse (not the physical skills of blocking, tackling, running, and catching nor the cognitive ability to learn, rehearse and remember complex play schemes nor the motivation to compete) is the principal skill of the game. For an eloquent counter to this faux warrior mentality nonsense, read Brian Phillips’ excellent article.

In fact, reports indicate that several Dolphins players are reluctant to see Martin return to the team. Incognito, the alleged bully, had been elected to a team leadership council by the players. Martin knew he could not turn to that group to resolve problems with Incognito, one of their own. And one council member blamed Martin for not coming to the council first. Really? Keeping bullying inhouse preserves the silence that sustains bullying.

Considering all these facts, the Dolphins will never be a safe workplace for Jonathan Martin. The same is true for all bullied targets. Sadly, 78% of targets do not return to work where they were bullied. People do move on. The good news is that 37% do enjoy greater safety from bullying in their next job (while 65% make less money and 29% make more money, WBI Instant Poll 2011-B).

Given Martin’s Stanford education, he will likely be able to start a non-NFL career. Joining another NFL team may be problematic. That next team will have to be coached and managed by professionals more like Pete Carroll than Joe Philbin and Jeff Ireland.

Martin, like all bullied targets, is probably motivated to seek justice. There is retributive justice — getting what he feels he deserved from the Dolphins for allowing him to be injured. Restorative justice is the longer-lasting kind of justice that will help him move past his first two years in the NFL. Restorative in the sense that he heals from the psychological violence he endured. Restorative as his distress dissipates. Finally, he will be satisfied if he finds validation that the NFL has room for intelligent, strong, non-violent young men who know how to play the game. Without that validation, he will always wonder if the lies Dolphin teammates uttered about him were true.

Martin needs to surround himself with loved ones right now. Turn off ESPN. Don’t listen to Incognito backers. When he achieves a personal calm amidst the storm outside his home, he needs to identify alternatives to professional football with help from his supportive family. It was they who instilled values that equipped him to nonviolently leave the Dolphins, knowing he had been hurt.


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This entry was posted on Friday, November 8th, 2013 at 2:21 pm and is filed under NFL: Jonathan Martin, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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