NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Wait. Evidence exists to warrant exploration of the possibility it already does.Junior Seau. Dave Duerson. Both retired National Football League (NFL) players opted to shoot themselves in the heart, not the head, as to preserve their concussed brains for scientific examination. But, please, don't let pesky items such as concussions and related suicides get in the way of your NFL Sunday. In fact, flame the player-victims, find ways to rationalize their situations in favor of the league. Even shamefully attack them. Just don't step between me and my football. Some of the response I have seen on Twitter and elsewhere to Jonathan Martin's decision to report bullying and leave the Miami Dolphins makes me sick.
"Hey, wassup, you half n--- piece of s--. I saw you on Twitter, you been training 10 weeks. (I want to) s-- in your f--ing mouth. (I'm going to) slap your f--ing mouth. (I'm going to) slap your real mother across the face (laughter). F-- you, you're still a rookie. I'll kill you."According to an article I read Wednesday morning, that's the voicemail Dolphins offensive lineman (and apparent team leader) Richie Incognito left for second-year teammate Martin. And here's what one of my relatives, who will remain nameless, wrote on Facebook ( FB) about the incident:
Please tell me this is a joke...,an NFL lineman walks out on his team and files a complaint against his teammate for bullying??? Lombardi is rolling over in his grave for sure!And, relative to some of the other reactions to what Martin did in response to this bullying, that's tame and moderate. Will the days ever go by when we stop glorifying the apparent toughness and nostalgic machismo of legends like Lombardi? I mean, football coaches finally gave in and provide regular water breaks during 100-degree two-a-days. Does my entire generation have to die off before the reaction to what happened to Martin contains nothing but immediate shock, sympathy and calls to action? Or has my generation polluted its offspring so pervasively that we need to wait another several decades for ignorance to meaningfully wane and sanity to prevail? The NFL will do whatever the NFL does> about this situation. This will likely amount to something next to nothing, if you actually consider profound cultural change in sports a worthy goal. Bottom line: The National Football League needs to send the message -- in no uncertain terms -- that it will not tolerate this type of behavior on any level. Because, maybe (and hopefully) not with Martin, it contributes to epidemics such as depression and suicide elsewhere, particularly away from the spotlight of professional sports. The NFL could take a cue from the National Hockey League (NHL). It probably won't, but it could. And it should. The NHL has put all of its promotional power behind the fantastic You Can Play Project. The league's top players -- and some of most macho -- cut promos and contribute to positive dressing room culture by stamping out slurs and negative attitudes about sexual orientation. In short order, these efforts have helped decrease the stigma associated with being gay, not only in the National Hockey League, but in all sports, at all levels around the world. If you don't think the sport was in desperate need of this type of intervention, you haven't spent much time in a locker room, let alone small provincial towns in Ontario. You Can Play has, literally, saved lives. If the NFL takes a similar stand against bullying, using this incident as a springboard to something righteous and positive, it could as well. Follow @rocco_thestreet -- Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.