Accusations of bullying roil NFL, prompt public outcry - KCTV5 News

Accusations of bullying roil NFL, prompt public outcry

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Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito (AP) Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito (AP)

Accusations of bullying in the Miami Dolphins locker room has roiled the NFL and prompted strong reactions from fans.

Former players are among those weighing in.

"I don't care where you work, who you work for, what type of work you do, bullying should be stopped immediately," former Chiefs wide receiver Eddie Kennison said.

Offensive lineman Jonathan Martin has stepped away from the team and fellow lineman Richie Incognito has been suspended and will reportedly be released after he allegedly threatened Martin and his family, demanded money from him and others to pay for a lavish lifestyle, made racial slurs and other harassment comments as part of a pattern of abuse for months.

While taunting and rookie hazing is considered a rite of passage in the NFL, this is widely considered to have crossed the line.

The NFL and Dolphins have mounted investigations.

Former Chiefs defensive end J.C. Pearson spoke about Martin's handling of this.

"Either he was afraid to say something or stand up to Incognito," Pearson said. "If he would have stood up for himself, it wouldn't have gotten to this level."

But comments such as Pearson's have prompted criticism of the mentality among NFL players and coaches that has led Martin to face stiff questions for not doing more to stand up to Incognito. While no one on the Dolphins was critical of Martin, the Miami players who talked to the media on Monday were far more vocal in defense of Incognito than on behalf of Martin.

In any NFL city, a player such as Martin who felt harassed would be placed in the difficult position of not wanting to show weakness in the most gladiatorial of sports. And as last season's bounty scandal showed, it's difficult for a player to stand up on his own against behavior he thinks is wrong.

"It had to be pretty difficult for him to actually come forward," Redskins left tackle Trent Williams said. "It's not the most glamorous thing to say, 'Hey, I'm getting bullied.'"

But SuEllen Fried, founder of Bully Safe USA, said these so-called initiations among sports teams aren't just fun and games.

"To me, it's is just unconscionable for the sports world to allow some of these things to happen as part of their norm," Fried said. "I think we need to look at what it really is, and that is abuse."

Still, Pearson said the Dolphins locker room issues send a message that those being bullied can stand up and get it stopped.

"If you have a 300-pound NFL player who has been bullied, then anyone could be," he said.

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