NPR : News

Filed Under:

For Player At Center Of NFL Bullying Story, A New Opportunity

When Jonathan Martin abruptly left the Miami Dolphins in the middle of last season after alleging harassment by his teammate, Richie Incognito, it sparked media discussions about everything from the use of the word "nigger" in N.F.L. locker rooms to the construction of masculinity.

From the beginning, the story was complicated by race and class: Martin would have been the first black fourth-generation Harvard student ever had he not opted for Stanford; Incognito is white and has had run-ins with the law. (Code Switch waded into the weird racial particulars of this story here.)

Incognito was suspended for several games, while Martin was away from football for the rest of the season. He said he'd lost the desire to play, and many pundits wondered aloud if any team in the league would want a player who was "soft."

But at least one team definitely does. The San Francisco 49ers traded for Martin on Tuesday, in a move that reunites him with Jim Harbaugh, who was his coach at Stanford and has been a vocal supporter of Martin's since the bullying story began.

Martin — who was already near the Niners headquarters in Santa Clara, taking classes at Stanford — tweeted about the trade yesterday.

The bullying episode prompted the NFL to investigate, which it did with gusto, interviewing dozens of Dolphins players and employees and publishing a much-discussed 140-page report on its findings last month.

Slate's Emily Bazelon, who's written a book about bullying, said that the report could be a watershed moment for the NFL, potentially changing the way we talk about bullying.

The investigators' 140-plus page report on the events leading up to Jonathan Martin's departure from the team is judicious, persuasive, and a public service. Carefully sifting through the evidence, it concludes that Richie Incognito and two teammates who acted as his henchmen humiliated and harassed Martin, another unnamed teammate, and an assistant trainer for months in ways that no employee should have to endure. This report should be required reading in management courses and for anyone who wonders how ugly, demeaning, and corrosive treatment can lie beneath a façade of "all in good fun" workplace "teasing."

The Dolphins fired their offensive line coach and a trainer after the report was published.

As for Incognito? He became a free agent on Tuesday, and the Associated Press reported that the Dolphins aren't likely to re-sign him.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit


Actress Niecy Nash Is 'Getting On' Just Fine

Perhaps best known for her work on Reno 911, Nash talks to Fresh Air contributor Anna Sale about playing a nurse on HBO's Getting On, a series about an extended care facility for elderly women.

Don't Get Salty: High-Sodium Warnings Hit New York City Menus

The city is the first in the nation to require a sodium warning on menu items containing 2,300 milligrams of sodium or more. The rule applies to chain restaurants with 15 or more locations.
WAMU 88.5

U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes On How Money Influences Politics, Locally And Nationally

One of Maryland's federal lawmakers is behind some new ideas about campaign finance reform that have stalled in Congress, but are being taken up by local legislatures, including D.C.

WAMU 88.5

Computer Guys And Gal

Another year is coming to a close and the Computer Guys And Gal are here to discuss this year's biggest technology news, including the growth of virtual reality and the "Internet of Things."

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.