Just Because It Happened In History, Doesn’t Make It Right…

Richie Incognito

I am 31 years old. I grew up in the 90s in the days of Clueless and sport icons like Michael Jordan, our own Clyde Drexler, and so many more. As much as I would like to call myself an athlete, I know I am nowhere near the professional standard of today’s athletes. I am not a total stranger to sports though. I played multiple years of varsity games in high school as well as intramural sports in college and today. I was fortunate to have an opportunity to work with a professional developmental football team that attempted to start in Hillsboro, known as the Portland Boltz, a professional developmental football team that played in the spring and only lasted one incomplete season.

All over the sports world, we start a discussion that has plagued sports for generations. No matter how much we do not want to see it throughout our lives, especially in college and some high school programs, hazing happens. The excuse often used in the sports world is that it happened to me and now it is my turn to do it to someone else. Unfortunately, that is often the same excuse used by fathers that beat their children. My father did it to me and it made me a stronger man and the man you see before you today. Sorry man, I don’t personally want to be around you at all. So what is technically hazing (or bullying) as it is often called? It is defined as any action taken or situation created intentionally that causes embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule; risks emotional and/or physical harm to members of a group or team whether new or not regardless of the person’s willingness to participate. So even if the person is “willing” to be hazed makes NO difference in the result.

There is a saying in business that I like and I believe it applies throughout; just because you have been doing it for longer than you can remember, does not make it right. You learn from your mistakes and take corrective action to erase the wrongdoing. Many will argue that the culture in NFL is nothing more than a big pile of jock fraternity brothers. That does not make hazing right though. Respect should be shown throughout any business or team from top to bottom. I know that as much as I would like to see a change in culture of the NFL, it will never happen. It will never happen until enough players are willing to standup to the group that is supporting it. Like many bullies that some of us had to deal with in high school, it usually starts at home with a parent that abuses the child in some form and then that child comes to school looking to take his bullying out on others. It is a familiar story told around the world. The reason it is still around is because many people watching are afraid to say something or do anything, they are afraid to stand up for the little guy who cannot stand up by himself. Many people reading this may walk by or see something happen and CHOOSE not to do anything. They let the innocent women be robbed as she screamed for help from bystanders. They just sat back and watched as someone was being hazed or bullied at school or in the neighborhood. It is all because they lack the conviction to do something.

For the Miami Dolphins, I not only ask why this happened, but I would specifically ask other players why you did not stand up for what was happening. In my opinion, if you did not help or try to stop it, you are part of the problem too. Are YOU? If my writing is hard to read today or actually gets you upset and angry; good, as that is the point.

To help change the future of the NFL culture, a stand has to be made eventually by at least a small group of players/coaches/people on the inside. No one person can stop bullying in most cases. It takes a village to raise a great child and it will take a village to change the culture of the NFL.

About Arran Gimba