NFL bully: Football must not condone a culture of harassment

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The National Football League is investigating a case of alleged bullying by Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito against a teammate, offensive lineman Jonathan Martin. The rough treatment caused Mr. Martin to leave the team.

Mr. Incognito has been indefinitely suspended from the Dolphins after allegations that he harassed the rookie with racial epithets. He's also accused of making threats against Mr. Martin's family in a recorded phone rant.

Some of Mr. Incognito's fellow Dolphins have defended him while conceding that he may have gone too far in trying to "toughen up" Mr. Martin, whose performance on a team with a lackluster record had been equally lackluster.

The players speaking out for Mr. Incognito appear more offended that their inner locker room workings have become the grist of commentary that assails the culture of hazing. Some of their concern for Mr. Martin appears mixed with notions that he should have stood up for himself.

But Mr. Martin did stand up for himself when he chose last week to leave a team that allowed his harassment to go unchecked. He wants to return to football and is cooperating with the NFL's investigation of workplace abuse. Given the macho culture of the NFL, it could not have been easy for Mr. Martin to go public with his case and now suffer additional ridicule by players and aspersions about his toughness.

The public airing of this episode should give the NFL enough incentive to take bullying seriously. The league has already taken a hit for its delayed reaction to the insidious concussion problem. Richie Incognito's coarse and unjustifiable treatment of a teammate is proof that unacceptable head injuries come in different forms.


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