Few would say that Douglas MacArthur wasn't a tough enough guy for the jobs he took on. He rose to the rank of General of the Army, and you have to be able to climb some steep stairs to get to the top of that outfit. When MacArthur was superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy, however, one of his first acts was to attempt to reduce the hazing of first-year plebes by upperclassmen, which was a little out of hand, even by military standards.
MacArthur had been singled out for hazing when he attended West Point. His father earned the Medal of Honor during the Civil War and later rose to the rank of lieutenant general, and that made MacArthur a child of privilege in the eyes of some fellow cadets, and didn't make him popular among upperclassmen from the South, either. (It also didn't help that MacArthur's mother moved to West Point and occupied a suite at Craney's Hotel overlooking the campus during his four years there.) In those days, in that place, hazing wasn't done by voice mail. It was pretty personal.
What happened to Jonathan Martin was personal, too, and if you listen to the subtext of what his former teammates say, some of it was rooted in the belief that Martin wasn't tough enough, or dedicated enough. He comes from a family that is highly educated and well off. The other Dolphins, not so much. Had Martin chosen to attend Harvard rather than Stanford, he would have represented the fifth straight generation in his family to do so.
The hazing started in earnest when Martin missed two weeks of voluntary workouts prior to his rookie 2012 season. His reason, if you can believe it? He went back to Stanford to take final exams.
Apparently, that didn't play well with Incognito, the ringleader of the Mensa group and the one able to convince the others that acting the way they were acting was normal for men in their particular profession. (Heaven knows what they would have done if Martin said he had been shopping for sconces.)
It was all right to extort money for dinners and trips and all right to demean and belittle the guys who weren't in the club, or were trying to take their jobs, or were quiet where they were loud, or were different in some way, or whatever. According to at least one published report, their actions were supported or at least tacitly accepted by a coaching staff that didn't see anything wrong with "toughening up" the stragglers, including Martin.
Incognito, 30, cut by two previous NFL teams for basically being a dirty cretin on the field, was suspended three times at the University of Nebraska and eventually kicked off the team. He tried to transfer to Oregon, but that didn't last, either.
Just since he's been with the Dolphins, he was cited for trespass after being involved in a fight at a Miami Beach bar this year, and was the subject of an assault report filed last year by a volunteer at a charity golf tournament. The volunteer said an intoxicated Incognito rubbed the butt end of his golf club in her genital area and breasts, knocked her sunglasses off her head, splashed a bottle of water in her face, and then dirty-danced up against her buttocks.
Yeah, he's a beauty, and in the Miami locker room, he's the hero of this story. Give the players a secret ballot as to which teammate they would rather have back, and they'll take Barabbas every time.
It would be nice to think that the extent of what has been going on with the Dolphins is an anomaly in the NFL. The Eagles said their rookies don't have to do much more than keep water bottles stocked in the meeting rooms. For a sport as ritualistic and tribal as football, there's probably a little more than that going on everywhere.
There isn't a Richie Incognito everywhere, however, and there isn't a Jonathan Martin everywhere. They came together in the wrong place - a place that allowed tattoos to be confused for toughness and bullying for brotherhood - and now neither will be the same because of that.
Incognito should feel satisfied, though. Martin's probably a lot tougher now.