Miami Dolphins

Jonathan Martin Is Courageous to Take Stand Against Reported Teammate Bullying

Oct 20, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin (71) on the sideline in the second half of a game against the Buffalo Bills at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIINovember 2, 2013

Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Jonathan Martin showed courage—not cowardice—by standing up for himself after reportedly being bullied by teammates.

Alex Marvez of Fox Sports 1 reports that Martin doesn't lack any passion for football, but that the organizational environment was too overwhelming to handle any longer:

...What a source told FOX Sports was an abusive environment that developed during Martin's 1 1/2 seasons with the Dolphins led to him taking a personal leave of absence to spend time with his family.

A source said Martin has tried dealing with a slew of indignities that crossed into personal and family insults, including being bestowed with the nickname of "Big Weirdo."

Quitting on the Dolphins, well, that is a legitimate gripe some could have for Martin walking out on his team. However, Martin's leaving should not be categorized as quitting, but rather as an unabashed display of human vulnerability.

The mindset with which one approaches his or her job is as critical as anything that the job entails.

As a two-time All-American at Stanford and a second-round NFL draft pick, perhaps it's hard to empathize with Martin in the high-standing societal position that he's in. That would be missing the point of this saga, though. Bullying is terrible. It is an epidemic that can traumatize younger children and even impact them into adulthood.

Martin should not be subjected to this type of harassment in his workplace. He went to an excellent school where he excelled on the gridiron, but he is still just 24 years old. He hasn't lived up to the hype generated by his draft status.

Maybe this unfortunate bullying development is at least partially to blame, since it's seemed to transpire ever since Martin arrived in Miami.

ESPN's Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen report that the NFLPA is commencing an investigation into the matter. The report also documents a quote from head coach Joe Philbin, who said this is something the Dolphins take "very seriously" and that it will "not be tolerated."

Some may question Martin's toughness for being unable to tolerate the perpetual teasing. But the reaction should be the exact opposite.

Bullying should not be tolerated under any circumstances. There is a fine line between a playful prank and taking shots that hit home with the individual. The same goes for an isolated incident versus repeated detrimental actions, and this situation has been widely reported to be the latter.

The straw that broke Martin's resolve, when he threw his tray at a team lunch after teammates got right up from the table he joined them at, was a fitting way to reach the boiling point.

Being labeled "Big Weirdo" and heckled by the men who are meant to have your back most is bad enough, but being an outcast, subjected to eat a meal alone? What kind of team camaraderie is being built in that situation?

Football is not a sport for the thin-skinned. By even reaching the NFL level in the first place, Martin has proven himself to be tough enough to discount any detractors who would say otherwise.

The Dolphins who have poked a little too much fun at him would do well to show him some respect whenever he returns. Martin is a talented player whose lack of success as a pro can't possibly be helped by the mental abuse he was taking on a consistent basis.

If Martin is meant to approach his expectations within reason, it should be reasonable to expect better treatment from the professionals he works with.

It is a lot easier to quit something as a kid. Peer pressure with regard to what's "cool" as opposed to any "weird" passions a kid might have can influence those scenarios. Martin has paved his own way in the NFL, which is pretty cool. Even with the hot, national spotlight on him as a prominent public figure, he took direct action after trying to address the bullying matter internally.

The weirdest part about this saga is the fact that grown men, Martin's teammates, are making fun of someone for apparently not being cool enough. In that regard, they are the ones acting like children, not Martin.

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