While I read an argument recently that suggested Major League Baseball was back as America’s Pastime I couldn’t help but think of just how wrong that sentiment was. Baseball loyalists are tough nuts to crack.
They have a hard time admitting their own games’ faults like Pete Rose’s gambling and the steroid era but have no trouble pointing out the problems that plague the country’s true pastime which is the National Football League.
To be fair and honest, the NFL does a decent enough job of keeping itself in the headlines with any number of negative stories so with all due respect to the baseball people, the NFL can make its own messes.
First and foremost is the situation in Miami.
Last week prior to their Thursday night win over Cincinnati, Dolphins’ tackle Jonathan Martin walked out of a team meal and chose not to return. He cited a culture of bullying that he was no longer able to take.
We now know the ringleader of this bullying is Dolphins’ center Richie Incognito and this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise given his history at Nebraska and then his conduct while playing in St. Louis. You can read the excerpts of Incognito’s phone and text messages to Martin here because I’m not going into them in depth.
To me, there are three things at issue here. First and foremost, Incognito is a disturbed individual who obviously has issues that he never dealt with from his childhood. In recent hours it was discovered his father has been bashing Martin on message boards so apparently the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
Secondly, Martin could have handled this a lot better too and maybe he attempted to but based on what we know I would say he reacted poorly. Why did he not go to the team’s union representative? Why not go to the position coach or head coach? Again, maybe he did but Joe Philbin doesn’t sound like a guy who would tolerate this stuff.
Lastly, where in the hell were Martin’s teammates? I have a hard time believing that none of the other offensive linemen knew what was going on? Is Incognito such a bully that they were afraid of him too? I have a really hard time believing that.
My gut feeling is that Incognito will be suspended for the season. He is a free agent at the end of the year and I’ll be shocked if anyone touches him. He’s a bully plain and simple but this is just the tip of the iceberg I fear.
Another issue you’ll hear more and more about is the health of NFL coaches. Within a matter of hours, Denver’s John Fox, who was out golfing during the team’s bye week no less, and Houston coach Gary Kubiak both suffered health scares.
Kubiak of course collapsed while walking off the field during halftime of Sunday night’s game. Fox will miss a few weeks and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio will be the interim. For Kubiak, we have heard positive things from the Texans, but as far as his status we don’t yet know.
These two incidents will no doubt shed a light on the incredible hours these guys put in each week as NFL head coaches. Personally, I don’t see any way you can limit what these guys do. Even if you tell them they can’t be at the office they’ll find somewhere to keep working.
Let’s hope both men are fine and that these are isolated incidents.
Either way, the NFL has no problem attracting attention whether people think it’s the national pastime or not.