Richie Incognito Needs to Toughen Up and Take Being Called Racist Like a Real Man
Apparently it's more controversial in America to call a white man a racist than it is to call a black man a "n*gger."
When it came to light that Richie Incognito had bullied Jonathan Martin until he walked out of the Dolphins facilities to seek help, the word from inside NFL locker rooms (often on condition of anonymity) was that Martin was "soft" and needed to "toughen up." When we learned Incognito's bullying included racial slurs, people started calling the guard a racist. Then several of his teammates, past and present, came out of the woodwork to claim that was false.
The message we're getting is that when an NFL player is called a racist name in the locker room, it's all, "Pussy needs to toughen up." But when one gets called a racist, it's all, "Whoa, whoa, whoa guys. Let's consider our words and be civil about it."
Over at Sports Illustrated, Jim Trotter's collection of anonymous quotes from inside NFL front offices and locker rooms has come to signify the unfiltered response from inside the league.
"I think Jonathan Martin is a weak person," said one personnel man, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "If Incognito did offend him racially, that's something you have to handle as a man!" .... What fascinates me is how quickly the conversation among players and personnel people turned from Incognito's actions to those of Martin, who has not spoken publicly since the story broke last week. Again, no one defended Incognito, but they did wonder why Martin didn't "man up" and handle the situation one-on-one. ... "This is another ploy in the league's 'player safety' book. Incognito knew who to try. You never heard anything like this come from John Jerry or Mike Pouncey. Instead of being a man and confronting him, he acted like a coward and told like a kid."
(Over at the Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a piece about how ridiculous it is for people to call someone a coward while hiding behind anonymity, by the way.)
So NFL players and personnel were perfectly fine with throwing public accusations around that Martin was a "coward" and "soft," but when people started calling Incognito a racist, the response was to rush to his defense.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, Mike Poncey gave an off-camera interview to ESPN's Chris Carter in which he defended Incognito:
"They don't feel as if he's a racist, they don't feel as if he picked on Jonathan repeatedly and bullied him, but if they could do it all over again there would be situations that they might change but they're very, very comfortable with Richie," Carter said.
"They think it's sad, not only that Jonathan's not on the football team, but also that Richie is being depicted as a bigot and as a racist."