Written By: Steven Kennebrew-Turner
~Dub Deuce The Poet~
With the recent fiasco involving Miami Dolphins’ teammates Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin, the “hazing-light” is now shining in some very private places…the NFL locker rooms and facilities.
Many ask the questioned; how can a big physically imposing NFL figure be hazed to the point where it’s considered bullying? Well, in the violent emotionally charged culture of the NFL, hazing is normal. For instance, it is customary that NFL rookies are hazed until they’ve played 20 games; which automatically means that a hazing period goes into year 2 (being that an NFL regular season is 16 games for non playoff teams). This would explain the video taped hazing that was recorded at the New York Giants’ training camp last season…where Jean Pierre Paul threw fellow second year defensive player Prince Amukamara into a cold tub. Many outside of NFL locker rooms were stunned.
In this case, allegedly the Dolphins organization ordered Richie Incognito to toughen up fellow lineman Jonathan Martin…i.e. a Code Red (as explained in the movie A Few Good Men). Richie, a known player with a rap sheet filled with locker room and on field incidents, took Code Red and put it on steroids…creating a situation beyond return.
Does hazing have a place in any environment? In everyday society, no. Where survival is the number one goal; yes! Where does such survival environment exist? The military…When I asked members of organizations that are known for hazing for input on this article, one of the responders was a high ranking Armed Forces Member. He stated, “I believe the solidarity that is required for these organizations to successfully exist demands a test of fidelity…it’s the responsibility of the leadership to set forth standards of acceptable conduct.” Meaning, you must test the threshold of the individual that you must depend on to watch your back and you, his (during combat). Once those limits are discovered, you must then go beyond them.
Similar structured military type hazing was done during the Civil Rights Era in America. Students and activists were able to endure such abuse because the elders of the era tested their limits in occult settings before going into harms way.
When limits aren’t test, then you get such a situation similar to what Tavis Smiley and Tom Joyner had. Where in 2006, Tavis & Tom lead the charge to published The Covenant With Black America. A book outlining efforts to hold the next President of the U.S. accountable to Black related issues. During this time, Tavis would often mention in his weekly commentaries on Tom’s radio show that when he was ever in a fox hole and had to fight his way out in a battle that Tom Joyner would be his trusted fox hole mate to watch his back for survival. However, when the next President was one of color, Tom Joyner abandoned ship of holding accountability and Tavis stayed the course…the friendship no longer exists between the two.
With this said, unfortunately and erroneously, environments and pop culture such as the NFL has accepted hazing as a Rights Of Passage. Let me explain.
Hazing has been popularized with Greek college fraternities and sororities. It is often stated within these organizations that hazing builds character and a stronger individual as well as organization. In its Alkebulan (African) origin, this may have been true. However, in today’s culture, hazing (outside of military means) has come to do more damage than good…in an alarming number of instances, leading to death.
The parents of such behavior (the ancient Greeks themselves), in their traditional fashion of plagiarizing African culture, attempted to bring Rights Of Passage into its culture. However, like anything plagiarized, it fails miserably. Thus, methods of brutality & embarrassment were added, and building progressive character and structure exited. Giving birth to hazing and burying Rights Of Passage.
Acceptance of such brutality & embarrassment was displayed in the Miami Dolphins locker room and facilities involving Incognito and Martin. Current NFL Players, former players, commentators, hosts, former coaches, and writers have stated that hazing (particularly rookies) has been around just a long as the league itself. However, all within my ear range have stated that Incognito took it too far with the bullying and racial slur.
What many that haven’t spent an extensive amount of time in a football locker room don’t know is that there is always a team member known as an enforcer on the field. With his aggressive rap sheet, it is my thought that Richie was such player. So, the allegation that the Dolphins organization wanted him to “toughen up” Martin is no surprise. Even during Dallas Cowboys’ Defensive End DeMarcus Ware’s rookie year, Head Coach Bill Parcells took it upon himself to haze DeMarcus. Something as simple as getting water for the coach was deemed DeMarcus’s job each and everytime Parcells wanted it.
Keep in mind that hazing is not just limited to sports, college campuses, and the military. Another industry infested with hazing is the film & entertainment industry. The term used in this industry is not hazing but “casting couch”. Where inspiring & veteran entertainers have consensual sex with the producer or director of a film/record label to be a part of the cast of such production…regardless if the sexual gender is the same of such producer or director involved.
The brutality suffered by Jonathan Martin came in the form of white supremacy. Like $40 million slaves, NFL players are portraying Incognito as the victim and Martin as the villain. Why? Because Jonathan Martin broke the code of the locker room…such slave mentality ignores the racism in Incognito’s hazing and pays more attention to the broken code. More respect is given to a gladiator system of supremacy versus the simple respect of a man. On the other hand, its hard to get someone else to standup for you when you won’t standup for yourself. Thus, Martin’s lack of toughness in a tough man career has led many around the league to question is sexuality (whether right, wrong, or indifferent).
Thus, Martin should have taken Incognito to the “wood shed”. Meaning, in the culture of hazing, there’s always a point where the neophyte is allowed to fight back. Incognito chose not to do so, thus he suffered psychological & emotional damage. Not taking a direct stand made Martin just as much a volunteer as he was a victim. Fights are common in the locker room and on the field when hazing and cheap shots cross the line. Few end with injury or lawsuits. However, this case is destined to conclude in a monetary settlement in Martin’s favor…and, possibily Incognito’s…because he followed protocol.
Rights Of Passage:
To be clear, hazing is not a Rights Of Passage. A Rights Of Passage is conducted by Elders of a culture or group that are not in competition with you. Nor, are they in your age group. Its designed to build character and strengthen the culture/group without detriment to the individual nor group. Its where enlightenment of the ancestors is passed-on. On the other hand, hazing is conducted by your teammates or classmates. It professes building character and brotherhood/sisterhood, however its more of a programming of acceptance of popular group trends with frequent detriment done to the initiates and the organization…because someone of your age group (usually early 20s) has little to no knowledge and wisdom to pass-on. Thus, an initiate is more of competition because he/she may steal the shine or position of those doing the initiating. Hazing gives you hell; Rights Of Passage gives you knowledge & wisdom! Never confuse the two.