NFL Locker Room: Time to Adapt

Monday February 17, 2014

The NFL season may be over, but the drama is still around. It doesn’t involve contract disputes or post-Super Bowl antics. This involves the NFL’s locker room environment.

The Miami Dolphins were under investigation for Richie Incognito’s alleged bullying of Jonathan Martin. Martin left the team, and Incognito was suspended for the rest of the season. Ted Wells was hired by the NFL to investigate the reports. Unfortunately, it not only confirmed the bullying but revealed more culprits in the case.

Wells’ descriptive, 144-page report on the case is disturbing. It states Incognito, Mike Pouncey and John Jerry harassed not only Martin but another young Dolphins offensive lineman and an assistant trainer. Omar Kelly summarized the report in the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

This comes off the announcement made by Michael Sam. The Missouri defensive end came out publicly in interviews with ESPN and the New York Times. If selected by any NFL team, he’ll become the first openly gay player to suit up in an NFL game.

This might be a problem for NFL teams. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma said some comments that were taken out of context. He clarified them while on Anderson Cooper 360 (via ESPN.com). Regardless, we’re in a situation needing to discuss this issue. For starters, is it even an issue?

It’s pretty clear times are changing. Apparently, some players and teams just don’t get it. They need to change with the times because the old ways aren’t popular anymore.

Teams need to stop these issues like this from happening. The locker room needs to be ready for open-minded scenarios.

If problems like the Martin/Incognito controversy keep occurring, the NFL will turn into a dangerous place. Players won’t be healthy, coaches and management will lose control and the games will be marred by gossip instead of being glorified by the games themselves. It’s a great time to be an NFL fan, with each Super Bowl breaking ratings each year. They can’t afford a setback like this.

My biggest concern is the treatment of Sam, especially with players who might have Incognito’s mentality. Is he mentally tough enough to last in the locker room? Time will tell, but Martin is the one story compared to incidents that could’ve occurred.

Could you imagine Denver treating Tim Tebow like this for his faith? Could you fathom the hazing Manti Te’o might have gotten for his girlfriend fiasco?

That’s the difference, right there. We can accept people for their choices and forgive them if needed. We can make a difference by accepting people’s choices. Whether they made mistakes, profess their faith and/or reveal their preference, it is not for us to judge.

What happened with the Dolphins is a prime example of taking the wrong step back. It’s time for that locker room, as well as others, to roll with the times and adapt.

Well, that’s it for today. Remember to check out the Facebook page for the Update. Don’t forget to like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter and keep on reading. Until then, see you next time sports fans.

Yours Truly,

Sebastian Maldonado

Copyright @ 2007

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