“When the threat of being punched in the face is present, men are kept honest. When men are kept honest, men exhibit respect.” --Rone G
Jonathan Martin (Left), and Richie Incognito (Right) on the set of "Cornfed White Boy", a throwback to the 80's bully movie
Today’s example of, perhaps the most sacred man law, involves a player for the Miami Dolphins by the name of Richie Incognito.
The aforementioned proverb, which states that the wraps of one’s knuckles against another fellow’s jawbone produces respect, is one that should have been executed long before the situation reached this point. For those who have not been paying attention, grown man bullying is at the forefront of the biggest sports story in the country at the moment.
Incognito, an offensive lineman, who is a solid 300+ pounds, is said to have harassed teammate and fellow offensive lineman, Jonathan Martin, also a 300+ pounder. Reports indicate that Incognito habitually harassed him on a variety of levels, most notably, with a racially charged voicemail in which he called Martin a “half nigger piece of shit” and finished it with a delightful salutation, “Fuck you, you’re still a rookie. I’ll kill you.”
I heard alleged copies of the voicemail in question, and if authentic, the tone of voice led me to believe that Incognito wasn’t a Klansman and was more than likely talking crazy than making actual threats, but where I come from, them’s fighting words, whether we’re boys or not.
So, folks, with the legendary proverb passed down by good men throughout the centuries in the back of our head, let’s revisit this voicemail, and how it should have played out.
Incognito sits on the bed in his hotel watching Love & Hip Hop. Inspired by the many fights that broke out on the show, and intrigued by the blackness, he decides to give his biracial teammate, Martin, a call. He’s on webcam with his cousin Biff from back home, and wants to get some badass points by showing him that he can leave a mean voicemail. The phone is ringing.
Incognito: (to Biff) Shut up, Shut up … You’re going to make me laugh. *Chuckle* Stop, man. OK, OK. His voicemail picked up.
Martin’s Cellphone: Hey. This is Jonathan. Leave me a message at the beep.
Incognito: (clears throat) Hey. Whassup, you half nig—
There is a knock at the door. Incognito looks to the webcam, puzzled.
Biff: You expecting company?
Incognito: No, hold up.
Incognito walks to the door and opens it up. As soon as he sees the light of the hallway, his jawbone meets the black fist of Justice. When he regains consciousness, he sees Martin sitting in a folding chair looking down at him, smoking a cigar and eating his snacks. Incognito’s arms are tied behind his back with wire.
Martin: Finish it…
Martin stands to his feet and picks up Incognito’s cell phone and shoves it in his face so that he can read the screen. The call counter has been going for 27 minutes, setting a record for the longest voicemail ever.
Martin: Finish. The damn. Message.
Incognito: Oh, that? Bro. Bro! You can’t take a joke?
And there it is. When faced with wraps of the knuckles against one’s jawbone, “bullies” become humbled and are quick to hide behind the “joke”. Judging by the tone of the voicemail, Incognito took it there because he knew that he could.
It’s like if you were in middle school and had an overgrown kid in class. The overgrown kid gives you a stupid nickname that you hate, but you never check him on it. He sees that you’re soft, so he makes an extra effort to call you that name when girls or the cool kids are around. Next, he “playfully” puts you in headlocks, gives you noogies and punches you in the arm when you do anything he doesn’t like. That graduates to again, making sure he does it whenever the cool kids are around. Next thing you know, you’re getting punched in the chest every single day, spit on, smacked in the back of the head and given wedgies.
When an animal preys on the weak, they don’t do it in a way that is diplomatic, such as asking the animal to donate a leg and letting them leave with their life.
No, they go for the jugular. A “bully” (I hate even using that term when it comes to two overgrown men) doesn’t stop when you bow down and let them get points off of you. The “jokes” will get more and more mean spirited, until you literally feel like your purpose when in their presence is to boost their self esteem, at your expense.
So let’s look at the alternative. Incognito is reportedly wildly popular in the lockeroom. If Martin had snapped and socked Incognito in the jaw, he may have been even more alienated as the one who “can’t take a joke”. But dude, I’d rather be the sensitive guy who swings on someone because I can’t take a joke, than the sensitive guy that becomes the joke.