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


'American Horror Story' Returns, With Twists, Thrills And A Chilling Lady Gaga

FX's American Horror Story returns for season five this week. TV critic David Bianculli says this season, which is set in a lavish old hotel, is "the most visually arresting and twisted one yet."

For Israeli-Born Chef, Hummus And 'Tehina' Are A Bridge To Home

Chef Michael Solomonov sees his mission as connecting people to the food of his homeland. "That, to me, is my life's work," he says. Solomonov's new cookbook is Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking.

FACT CHECK: Are Gun Makers 'Totally Free Of Liability For Their Behavior'?

Hillary Clinton said Monday that the gun industry isn't legally responsible for its behavior. She's (partially) right.
WAMU 88.5

Computer Guys And Gal: Taking Selfies To New Heights And More

Mobile ad blocking comes to iPhones, updated Android comes to new Nexus phones, and "dronies" -- video selfies shot by a GoPro on a drone -- come to Instagram. The Computer Guys and Gal explain.

Leave a Comment

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