Culture / Sports / World Magazine / November 13, 2013

NFL Bullying and the Organizational Culture that Fosters It

From my most recent article at

photo credit: Bogeskov via photopin cc

Bullying is a term we usually reserve for children and adolescents. Once people become adults it’s called either “abuse” or “harassment.” But no matter what the term used, those are the allegations surrounding two Miami Dolphins players: Jonathan Martin, a second-year offensive tackle who left the team last week after an incident in the team cafeteria involving another lineman, Richie Incognito. In the days that followed, allegations of sustained harassment (racial epithets, financial coercion, etc.) by Incognito were made. Martin is said to be suffering significant emotional distress. He is at his parents’ home in California while the National Football League Players Association and NFL authorities investigate the matter.  

The Players Association has issued a statement saying they “expect the NFL and its clubs create a safe and professional workplace for all players.” This is the obvious and correct expectation in every workplace. If the claims of harassment are proven true, there is no excuse for such behavior and treatment of another person. But rethink that expectation as it pertains to the NFL. Is it correct? Hasn’t the league fostered an environment where such issues can flourish?  

Football is violent; its players are expected to be violent. Every week players are asked to “play angry” and be animals on the field. Then they have one shower’s worth of time after the game to become civil and productive members of society again. For most this isn’t a problem; it’s competition and when it’s done it’s done. For some, though, it is a rage outlet and it splashes over into everyday life. 


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Read the full article HERE.

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