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In a tough biz like the NFL, bullying unlikely to elicit much sympathy: Mitchell

FILE - In this May 29 2013 file phoMiami Dolphins guard Richie Incogniwatches during an NFL football practice Dolphins training

FILE - In this May 29, 2013 file photo, Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito watches during an NFL football practice at the Dolphins training facility in Davie, Fla. Suspended Dolphins guard Incognito sent text messages to teammate Jonathan Martin that were racist and threatening, two people familiar with the situation said Monday, Nov. 4, 2013. The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Dolphins and NFL haven't disclosed the nature of the misconduct that led to Incognito's suspension. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

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Updated: December 6, 2013 6:31AM



Judging from the transcript of a voice message Miami Dolphin Richie Incognito allegedly left teammate Jonathan Martin, Incognito appears to be an adult bully.

Like children, adult bullies use sarcastic or demeaning language to dominate or humiliate another person.

ESPN reported on Monday that Incognito’s taunts included calling Martin “half n - - - - - piece of s - - -.’’ The multimillion-dollar professional athlete allegedly told Martin: I’m going to “slap your f - - - ing mouth” and “slap your real mother across the face,” and “I will kill you.”

Incognito’s mail and text messages indicate a “pattern of racial epithets and profane language,” ESPN reported.

Another allegation against Incognito is that the highly compensated player pressured Martin to contribute $15,000 for a trip to Las Vegas.

Martin allegedly forked over the money because he feared the consequences.

Apparently, the treatment proved too much for Martin. He abruptly left the team last week after an incident in the team’s cafeteria.

After some of Incognito’s text messages were made public, the Dolphins announced on Sunday that Incognito had been suspended.

But it wouldn’t surprise me if Incognito’s suspension turns out to be more of a vacation, while Martin will likely end up looking for another career.

Already there’s talk that Martin had personal problems and that his sensitivity is at the root of his departure from the team.

But that seems to suggest that bullying and using racial slurs is just part of the culture in NFL locker rooms.

Ricky Williams, a former running back with the Dolphins, denounced bullying on Twitter, but went on CNN and didn’t seem convinced that bullying was the real problem.

“You can’t have a victim mentality and be successful in the NFL,” Williams said Monday on CNN.

Wlliams, who played on the team with Incognito, also said some people make it to the NFL and are disappointed.

“All of a sudden . . . they are not allowed to wimp out. There is no way to wiggle out. . . . You get in the game and there’s this big guy standing across from you . . . you have to be a man and stand up,” Williams said.

While Williams didn’t mention Martin by name, it was obvious the former Dolphins player wasn’t blaming Incognito.

In fact, some observers are suggesting that Martin left the team to get help for emotional issues and not because he felt threatened.

And the Associated Press reported that Martin, who hails from Stanford, had not complained to the Dolphins about bullying or the racial slurs in the past.

But what if Martin had complained? Would that have been enough to end his torment? When bullying takes place in the workplace, it can lead to reduced job performance and depression, according to the Bullying Statistics website.

Professional athletes are also in a class by themselves. These guys get paid for essentially trying to maim each other for public entertainment.

They are admired for their ability to perform feats that ordinary people can only dream about. That’s why thousands of young athletes want to grow up and be just like them.

But unfortunately, sometimes these athletes set bad examples. This is one of those times.

Martin will likely be subjected to a fair amount of ridicule because he didn’t “man up” under the bullying. And no matter what we tell our kids, many of us don’t have much respect for people who run to the manager complaining about how our co-workers are treating us.

Yet bullying in the workplace is no joke. Indeed, sexual harassment and racial discrimination are forms of bullying.

But I don’t expect Martin to get much sympathy.

The bad-boy image that Incognito has perfected remains attractive because many sports fans are living vicariously through these athletes.

Given half a chance, a lot of us would be bullies, too.

Email: marym@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MaryMitchellCST



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