A few weeks ago Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin were just Miami Dolphins offensive linemen. That time no longer exist.
Today, Incognito is the face of bullying while Martin is a victim. All of the facts arenít clear yet because they are still investigating, but what is clear is Incognito sent inappropriate text and voice messages to his teammate Jonathan Martin.
Martin then left the team and checked himself into a South Florida hospital to be treated for emotional distress.
People are weighing in on what happened, should happen and will happen. Some are proud of Martin for the way he handled it, while others think a 6-foot-5-inch, 315-pound man should have stood up for himself.
As someone who has been bullied, witnessed bullying and defended victims of bullying, there is no right answer. I know. I canít tell someone what the right answer is when it comes to bullying because there isnít a one-size-fits-all answer.
I do know the wrong answer. Martin has been labeled as ďsoft.Ē Is it soft to walk away from your livelihood, open up your personal life to the world and risk the ridicule of everyone you know? Thatís what Martin did.
Martin may be a lot of things, but ďsoftĒ is not one of them. The courage it takes to put oneself in the public eye and let the world dig through your struggle canít be easy. Thatís the type of guts a bully will never understand. Cowards choose to walk the path of a bully.
Many bullies say that they were bullied too, and statically thatís true. Some even feel it is their right, to toughen others up.† Rather than bring others together and understand that a team is only as strong as its weakest link, bullies divide. At the core, bullies want to lead and donít know the first thing about what it takes.
Bullies donít recognize themselves as abusers because to do so would mean looking in the mirror and what bully wants to see themselves as what they really are? Itís far easier to hide behind someone elseís suffering.
In Martinís world, the perception is that might makes right. Alpha males dominate the NFL landscape. It is foolishly presumptive to assume that a physical altercation wouldíve solved the problem. I reject the idea that the only way to stop bullying is to put a fist to the bullies nose.
In all of this there is something bigger than bullying that exists. Even in the land of giants like pro football, there are those looking to exploit lesser giants. This isnít call to action for bullies to beware. This is a call to action for those who take notice and do nothing. Stopping bullying isnít just up to the victim to stand up and be heard.
Bullies arenít interested in fixing their problem and Iím not interested in helping them. But if you are a bully reading this, then fix it. Get help. Find a reason to be better.
For those who put up with the abuse or recognize abuse, find it in yourself to help. Be accountable for your fellow human being.