Martin claims that bullying by a Dolphins teammate has forced him to retire from the game of professional football. The counterclaim is that the teammate (and others) were just trying to toughen up Martin for the occupation he chose -- and for which there are undoubtedly thousands of other men who would be willing to endure abject public humiliation for the opportunity to replace Martin and at a fraction of the salary Martin was receiving.
However, the current controversy has drawn in a lot of attention. That indicates there are much larger issues than that of football players not getting along. The Martin controversy is just one scene in a much bigger drama which attempts to undermine and destroy the results-oriented, achievement-driven nature of all competition, of capitalism itself, and ultimately to attack and subjugate the men who are considered evil for creating that construct.
I will predict that the so-calling bullying by the villainous, horrible man is nothing more than a teammate trying to improve the productivity of another teammate not quite pulling his weight. The object here is to win, to achieve, and for heavens' sake we cannot have that, hence the attacks on Incognito for being a terrible bully. To be clear, the object being to win, to improve production, and bullying is counterproductive in that it clearly reduces performance. But bullying is also not about performance enhancement; it is about control, domination and causing the suffering of its victim. None of those objectives appear to be at work here. Instead, this seems to be a contrived claim by an underperformer who needed an escape hatch and is now seeking to capitalize on victim status.
Whatever Martin is claiming Incognito said or did, the object was about producing winning and it seems Jonathan Martin was at least perceived as not being anywhere near close to tough enough to survive in an environment where men are paid six-figure and seven-figure salaries to go to near-literal war each weekend -- and where all of this is funded by fans who are not paying thousands of dollars for season tickets to watch the politically correct hold hands, eat Quinoa burgers and sing "Kumbaya." Whether the politically correct police like it or not, mental toughness and, yes, the ability to withstand verbal abuse from opponents on the battlefield (er, the football field), are not desirable attributes; they are necessary qualities to survive in the occupation of professional football. The trash-talking in professional sports is not incidental; it is often a critical feature of the contest. Players seek to annoy their opponents to gain a mental advantage. Anything to win. And someone with a known weakness for a thin skin will become a huge target for abuse, not because of cruelty but because the stakes are very high.
Achievement and results are paramount. What Martin is trying to do is, indirectly, to attack and destroy the results-oriented end game of all of capitalism, of all competition. His claim to victim status also rests on flawed logic which, if accepted, would wreak havoc on our society as we know it.
First, it implies that all competitors (indeed, everyone) is entitled to perform in the field of their choosing. Simply stated, this means anyone who wants to run onto the field at the Super Bowl has a right to do so! Ergo, the objects of my desire, my fantasies, become my rights. That is fine for the utopians, who ignore the true nature of a right as something inalienable and not infringing on the rights of another. Instead, the "Martin rights" require others to bear the burden of his self-declared right. If Johnny wants his victory lap, by golly, we are obliged to give it to him. (Cue up Lady Gaga's "Applause.")
By this tortured and defective logic, what protection would our laws afford the object of obsessive desire? Would our laws allow, or mandate, that the poor sap who finds himself the target of desire of a Genevieve Sabourin (just sentenced to prison for stalking Alec Baldwin) must submit to her? What would be the limit? Would there even be limits?
What is missing here, folks? It is the simple concept that achievement is earned. You want that promotion, you have to work for it. You want to win the Super Bowl? You have to work really hard -- and work in tandem with your teammates -- to even get close to it.
The audacity of Jonathan Martin is the demand, not spoken necessarily but implied, to revise the rules and requirements of the occupation to suit his eggshell-skull sensitivities. It is narcissism gone mad on the sports field. I want to be a winner, therefore I am a winner, and how dare you question me otherwise! But Martin has no right to receive special treatment; no one does. No one has the right to a desired outcome, not in a free society. Jonathan Martin is not the Pharaoh. Jonathan Martin is not, ahem, special.
In an environment where winning is paramount, pressure is high and individual financial rewards are also high, Jonathan Martin's presence is now likely to undermine group harmony and the teamwork necessary for high achievement in pressure-packed situations. Martin is simply a man not likely to help a team win.
From here on out, Martin should get from the sports world the reaction which he has earned.
Eric Dixon is a New York City-based attorney and consultant who handles matters in New York and New Jersey.