The NFL and workplace bullying

When one thinks of bullying, images of some poor high school nerd being picked on by a bunch of jocks usually comes to mind. The last place that I would expect to see or hear about any bullying case would be the National Football League. I thought the players were suppose to be big, macho guys, who if faced being bullied, would certainly fight back and potentially start a huge heavyweight fight. But as surprising as it seems, that was not the case with Johnathon Martin, a 300 lb plus tackle for the Miami Dolphins. He left the team after supposedly being bullied by one of his teammates, Richard Incognito, another 300 lb plus player. 

My initial reaction to the story was kind of ho hum. Why is this kind of stuff not kept in-house and in the locker room? A feud between a couple of players is really not anybody’s business. Of course, in today’s society, people seem to crave on stories like this so it is not surprising that it has garnered so much attention. Sports talk radio shows thrive on these feuds. But it dawned on me that this story could open up and begin discussion about a problem in our society that has been around for a long time. It has to do with workplace bullying.

In any organization, large of small, you are bound to have those individuals like Incognito who love to intimated and control people. There are always those bad apples in any business or company who make life miserable for someone else. Many times, the bullying occurs when the person is not around and behind their back. I have seen it many times in my company. An example would be talking about their job performances behind their back or maybe the way they act or dress. Suddenly that person has developed a terrible reputation around the company. Many times it is not deserved. You will always have clashing personalities in any company. Some people are totally not tolerant of others and find the need to harass or intimate.

Whether you play on a sports team or work for company, bullying has ABSOLUTELY NO place in any work environment. A person has the right to show up for work and not worry about being harassed by others. Any evidence of bullying should be taken seriously by the higher ups or coaches. I realize that not everyone will like each other and want to go out and have a beer after work or practice but everyone should realize how important their co-worker or teammate is. You are all there for the common goal of making your company or team better or successful. Bullying by people is a sure way to prevent a sports team or a business organization from reaching it’s goals. This is especially true in a team game like football. You are like a band of brothers who play for each other.

Quite frankly, I don’t know why Incognito is still in the league or even got a chance to play in the NFL. Here is a guy who has a very alarming rap sheet. He got suspended 3 times during his college career which should have raised many red flags among NFL teams. There have been numerous stories about him not being able to control his temper and emotions. If you look up the word “hothead” in the dictionary, his name and picture appear. Of course, many teams bypass those troublesome traits and are really only concerned about what type of player he his. Good character is not even considered when looking at a player. Teams are so concerned about winning that they fail to look at what picking up these malcontent players will do. The same can be said about the way employers hire people at any company. I strongly believe that having good people and leadership skills are one of the most important traits any employee can have. That trait is often overlooked in the hiring phase. A guy with a great resume or education is often looked at in greater terms than someone who is probably less skilled but appears to have better people skills. A guy with a Harvard degree who is total jerk is not worth hiring to me. The same can be said about picking up a good top-notch player. Sure they might have a lot of talent but how well do they get along with their teammates?

In my opinion, Incognito should get released by the Dolphins. If I sent a racist phone message to one of my co-workers, I would get fired immediately. His conduct to a teammate is grounds for dismissal. Sure he is a good player and former all-pro player but he can be replaced. Incognito should realize what a privilege it is to play in the NFL and how lucky he is. Perhaps the Dolphins will give him a second chance and work with him to control his anger and bullying. This story should serve as a wake up call to the fact that workplace bullying happens on the playing field as well. Teammates need to build each other up, not tear each other down. Bullying is a sure way to ruin any team harmony and morale.