Richie Incognito and the Culture of Gang Racism
By Dennis Loo (11/7/13)
As much of the nation knows by now, the NFL's Miami Dolphins' left offensive guard, Richie Incognito, has been suspended indefinitely from the team for "conduct deterimental" in relation to his harassment of his left tackle rookie teammate Jonathan Martin. In late October Martin left the team to first go to a hospital for emotional distress and is now back home with his family in California. Martin is bi-racial and Incognito is white.
The Dolphins players who have spoken up about this so far have all sided with Incognito, claiming that this transcript of a message Incognito left in April for Martin does not indicate a racist and a bully:
Hey, wassup, you half-nigger piece of shit. I saw you on Twitter, you been training 10 weeks. [I want to] shit in your fucking mouth. [I'm going to] slap your fucking mouth. [I'm going to] slap your real mother across the face [laughter]. Fuck you, you're still a rookie. I'll kill you.
Despite this message being a part of a larger body of harassment of Martin by Incognito subsequent to this April message, veteran and current players are all expressing sympathy for Incognito and not Martin, saying that either Incognito and Martin were the best of friends and/or that if Martin had a problem that he should have confronted Incognito and "punched him" as Dolphins' GM Jeff Ireland reportedly advised him to do. According to numerous individuals making public statements about this, Martin's "soft."
On ESPN yesterday where this story was the most frequently reviewed and updated, Cris Carter, former stand-out wide receiver and ESPN reporter and who is also black, sided with Incognito, saying that Incognito's use of the n-word was acceptable because Incognito was considered by the players to be a brother so his use of it was not racist. Today unnamed black players on the Dolphins team reported that they had made Incognito an "honorary black" and echoed Carter's bizarre defense of Incognito. Carter's comments clearing Incognito of being a bigot were repeated at least once during SportsCenter, so his remarks were not seen as bizarre at least by ESPN's staff.
All of which prompts me to wonder: if calling a teammate who is half-black a "half-nigger piece of shit" isn't racist, then what does one have to say to show that one is a racist? What terms have not been used by Incognito in this message that are less severe than using the most inflammatory language possible? Oh, alright, he didn't say he wanted to lynch Martin, but that's about the only thing that's missing from this tirade.
I realize that the "I'll kill you" wasn't meant literally since it comes after "Fuck you, you're still a rookie," and perhaps in the steroid/testosterone world of the NFL and football more generally, saying that you want to "shit in your fucking mouth" passes for big brother, macho, I really love you and want to help you jargon, but if it does, then Martin's not the one with the problem here. It's the rest of the NFL. And it's the kind of mind-numbing brainwashing crap that boot camp officers throw at their recruits.
If Incognito was made an honorary black by some of the other Dolphins' black players, then what's wrong with those players that they would do such a thing?
The parallels between the military culture of being "tough" and denying that PTSD is a serious problem (twenty-two vets successfully commit suicide every day which means that since the U.S. invasion of Iraq more than 60,000 vets have committed suicide), thinking that committing routine war crimes is part of being a real man or woman (who are supposed to "man up") and the NFL where recently retired players are committing suicide due to brain damage from the concussions they sustained while playing this macho game are almost too obvious to even mention. And yet few are mentioning this. Brian Phillips in an excellent article today is.
For those who think that Martin should have dealt with Incognito "man-to-man" and acted out in the fashion that Incognito has a rich history of doing and which earned him the distinction as being named the NFL's "dirtiest player" by other NFL players in 2009 and got him kicked off of the Nebraska and Oregon teams while in college, they should note that this ganging up on Martin by Incognito's teammates and admirers is exactly what Martin was up against before he finally couldn't take it anymore and left the team for the hospital. He wasn't only facing the racist bullying of Incognito but the complicity and collusion of Incognito's teammates then, as he is now. Why should we think that the Dolphins players were doing anything else before this story became national news? And where was the coaching staff? How could they let this go on when the chemistry of an offensive line is so critical to the team's performance? Why didn't one of the coaches or players step in-between and call out this famously crude bully Incognito and get this to stop? They could do it now, but they're not. If one is to believe those who have been cited in reports by name or by affiliation, Incognito's their BFF and Martin's a pussy.
What an ugly parade of the most racist, misogynistic, messed up warrior macho BS conceivable. And how apropos for 2013 America that its most ballyhooed sport that is more of a religion than religion is in some ways, worships militaristic misogyny and considers blatant racists honorary blacks.