So much talk about Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin, hazing, bullying, locker-room talk, and of course, dropping N-bombs.
While we’re all sitting here playing Monday morning quarterback, there is indeed a reality here, and one you might not like. I’m not saying that I like anything that’s happened recently (I don’t), but at least I see the truth behind all the smoke and mirrors. You should see it too.
For the record, I’m not defending Incognito’s verbal abuse (his words stand on their own) or his gratuitious use of racial slurs. I’m not here to tell you Martin is a wuss either. I am however saying that if you really want to know – there is a truth behind all the fancy NFL productions, and it’s ugly. This is BIG business here, and the motive is profit and not being Mr. Nice Guy.
Truth! Professional locker rooms for most all sports are a place filled with top athletes who are all having their ego’s stroked daily, and paid extremly well for doing it. There are reporters running around while people are either changing or bathing, and there is no filter or set of rules that are applied overall. The only people expected to maintain some professionalism are the visitors (press, etc).
The language of the locker room is unusually atrocious, filled with words you would never let your mother hear you say; stuff that would get you slapped for saying.
Specific to NFL locker rooms (Miami Especiales) there is an overload of testosterone, and the wafe of overpaid millionaires who all get treated like kings everywhere they go. They curse each other, call each other derogatory names, and then high-five at every instance possible. This is like the fraternity party after a big college game, and everyone’s on something.
While some (if not most) of these characters are able to maintain a professional set of manners, there are always those who possess and display an IDGAF attitude and that transcends to every aspect of their lives. They walk around like the giants that they are, often coddled by team owners and coaches, and everyone else around them. You wouldn’t recognize most of these guys from the little league games (where their children play) if you just heard them talk in the locker room, the difference is huge.
We hear about how this player was arrested, that one got a DUI, this one beat up his girlfriend, that one beat up his wife, another murders an old rival – it’s a TV Soap Opera between Sundays. There’s talk about they should be “role models” but that’s unrealistic. These are regular people who either are good or they are not, playing football in the NFL doesn’t change that.
A racist you meet at your local 7-11 isn’t any less racist because he’s wearing a pro football jersey, right? A nice guy who is a loving dad doesn’t turn into an abusive AH when he sports his team’s colors, does he? No! the point is that just because it’s FOOTBALL doesn’t mean our expectations should be any higher, especially when we’re talking about the players. They are human, doing [stupid] human things. Excessive cursing and attitudes alike, are they any different from the rest of us? Not really, but somehow we insist they should be?
So what is it really all about? The truth?
The truth is this thing we know as the NFL… It’s an instution we love to hate. WE say we “love the game” and espouse all of the great things we love about it, it’s right up there with grandma and apple pie; nothing can be more American that that.
But we hate it too, or do we? We talk about how we love fair competition, rules, no cheating, etc. but yet we let all of our social mores slip when it comes to this source of entertainment. Yes, this is entertainment. We look past the history of violence, gun charges, arrests, drugs, and other important pieces of information to get the fastest running backs, the best tacklers, the most aggressive players, etc.
So we put these pro athletes on a pedestal, but get angry when they wreck their cars into a family at 3am while they’re drunk or high. We are quick to turn on something we love so much, wait – someone used a racial remark? Are you surprised?!? We cheer for their release from jail – because the game is on Sunday! Can you say Hypocrite?
Woah Woah Woah pal! Did you just say entertainment?
Yes, and it’s a multi-billion dollar a year industry that is like nothing else. The game is played by millionaires getting paid by billionaires. The truth is that this game is so big (financially speaking) that the individual teams and the NFL are just trying to practice containment when it comes to their player’s off-the-field antics. There is no “higher standard” being used here, it’s just a bunch of BS. Even though Roger Goddell and every previous NFL president tried to cover it up, history repeats itself over and over. The stuff we’re talking about today will be overshadowed by the next publicity nightmare, and then next on after that. Nothing will really change here, get used to that.
The players are just a microcosm of society at large, and yet we expect them to be different somehow? NEWS FLASH – they’re not!
These are top athletes, yes – but let’s break that down a little. These are the MOST competitive, most agressive people on earth. Most of them are 250lbs and up, all packing big egos and IDGAF attitudes. They are propped up by the large paychecks and their peers, of whom are also paid & treated like royalty, and they all curse like that friend you know. They trade sharp barbs about family, race, money, cars, homophobia, and more. All like it was a regular day at the local ice cream shop. You want some f*cking chocolate jimmies on that b*tch? I got you motherf@cker!
My Personal Opinion
The hazing is… standard operating procedure in most every locker room, most of it is harmless. From personal experience, I had a line coach that used every graphic reference you can think of, and 99% of us knew it was coming from the right place. It was motivational speech, but nothing you’d put on a poster in your office, trust me on that.
This stuff with Martin & incognito seems like it went way too far, and unchecked by the coaches or team management. I’m sure we’ll hear more about that soon. Do I think some people get offended – yes, I am sure some people are. Every one of those guys has spent lots of time in a locker room by the time they get to this level, and it’s not bothering any of them. If it did – I’m sure the one guy would pummel the other in the locker room, and you would never hear about it. I am not sure that what Ritchie Incognito said or did to Jonathan Martin was anything different than what happens in other NFL teams, the only difference is that we all know about this one. Are we raiding all other team’s locker rooms to flush out the bad apples? No, and you’re kidding yourself if you think that would ever happen.
What’s interesting to see and hear the past two weeks is how people are appalled, and that “soemone talking like that would be fired at my office” – but you don’t play professional sports, do you?
The time has come to complete the picture of this game and look at it on the whole. Stop your Sunday outlook on this game and the NFL as an organization and take a real look at the players, the teams, the coaches, and the owners.
They’re all out to make money showing us this clean slice of TV sports, and covering up the shady parts by trying to keep it all out of sight. What doesn’t get reported doesn’t matter. The mantra here is like “looking at life through rose-colored glasses.”
Now specific to this recent smattering of news from Miami… Seriously – what did you expect here? The most corrupt city in America (Miami, FL) and the story is a little more twisted, and the owner and the coach knew nothing about it, apparently this “organization” is run a little more loosely. I am not shocked.
Time to see if that apple pie is really that good-tasting, and accept this for what it is; one of the largest money-making organizations in popular media today. The NFL is just trying to cover up the ugly parts so they can package it up and sell it to the TV markets, so people like you and I buy our beer from the one with the hottest girls on the commercials. This new issue is great new PR too, because it will shift the media’s attention away from the #NFL #Concussion issue that just gave them a black eye.
So “love the game” as you will, but you’ll also need to keep yourself in check as to what you think of the players and the NFL. If somehow that changes your overall opinion and fan appreciation – so be it. The NFL is banking that you won’t stop loving your local team, and there you have it.
I’m not being crude here, I’m just giving you an honest reflection. Don’t read too much into it, ok?
Quotes from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (that apply very well here):
“In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.”
“No sympathy for the devil; keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride…and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well…maybe chalk it off to forced conscious expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten.”
By Louis Wing