I’ve been giving some thought to the whole Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito imbroglio that has lifted a rock off the twisted world of intimidation-as-camaraderie that exists in at least the Miami Dolphin NFL locker room. Taken out of its context such behavior makes shy men shudder and league officials very nervous. But it also reminiscent of Captain Renault’s famous line in the movie Casablanca: “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”
NFL officials have been quick to condemn the hostility that Martin’s accusations uncovered, but let’s take a step back and consider the environment of violence that attends this game and the men who play it.
On Monday I posted a Veteran’s Day story telling of my father’s time in WWII, including how his experiences had coarsened him upon his return home. “The harder you live the more profane you become. ‘Gee whiz’ doesn’t work anymore.”
Author Tim O’Brien made the same observation in his highly regarded book The Things They Carry, about his time as a grunt in Viet Nam. “Send guys to war, they come home talking dirty.” Well, football is nothing more than a metaphorical war, so you get what comes with it. (more…)