Bullies shouldn't be seen as heroes
You might have heard that Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Jonathan Martin left his team because of the way some of his teammates treated him. It has been reported that Dolphins all-pro offensive lineman Richie Incognito and maybe other players made fun of Martin and called him names. They also threatened him and made him and some Miami rookies -- Martin is in his second year -- pay for expensive meals for the older players.
The Dolphins removed Incognito from the team. The NFL is investigating the incident. That's good, because there is a lot we don't know about this strange situation.
For example, some Dolphins players say that Incognito is a good teammate. Incognito said he was Martin's friend. It has been reported that Incognito's teasing was meant to help toughen up Martin for the NFL.
There is always some teasing and joking between friends and teammates. But when a player -- whether in the NFL or on a kids team -- repeatedly does things that embarrass or hurt a teammate's feelings, he is not being a good teammate. He's being a bully.
Good teammates stay positive and lead by example. They encourage their teammates to do their best.
A good teammate can point out mistakes and give a new teammate advice. But a good teammate will always make teammates feel like equals. After all, the object of any team is for all the players to play their best. That will give the team the best chance of winning games. But that's not the way the older Miami players treated the Dolphins rookies and younger players.
What is disappointing is that it appears that no one on the Dolphins stepped in to help Martin. No one told Incognito to back off and give the younger player a break. In other words, no one stood up to the bully.
So often, sports fans talk about athletes as being heroes or role models for kids. But it doesn't seem there were many heroes or role models in the Dolphins' locker room.
Just a lot of bullies.