Jackie Robinson – ’42’ and the Miami Football Team, Martin versus Incognito

Jackie Robinson – ’42’ and the Miami Football Team, Martin versus Incognito

Guts not to fight back! – 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers – Jackie Robinson – ‘42’ The guts not to fight back was the courage this man needed to become the person he was meant to be…yes and he did not do it alone!

This true story of an American Legend, Jackie Robinson…he broke all odds, withstood bullying to the nth degree in his personal life, in the locker room and on the playing field. This man is a hero as he had the tenacity to stand up for what he truly possessed inside, the passion, and inborn talent to be the best baseball player on earth. (Women you can do this too!)

Jackie Robinson who had the courage and the guts to stand up to the establishment (the White Man – in the late 1950s) and bring his talents to one of the best sports game on earth, Baseball. Jackie Robinson had to break barriers in every sense of the word. He had two people supporting his objectives his wife who was his rock and provided the love and support for him every step of the way. He needed her love and reminder of love during the hatred that was bestowed upon him everywhere. He needed Branch Rickey’s as a powerful sponsor and general manager to stand beside him and pave the way.  Jackie Robinson

Branch Rickey was a Major League Baseball (MLB) executive, and General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers who had the financing and the political clout to be the sponsor and the champion for one of the best baseball players, Jackie Robinson. Branch Rickey was a leader and Champion in every sense of the word. Jackie Robinson went on to break the color barrier in sports across this discriminatory time within America and for that matter the world. Where are our leaders today when it comes to the harassment and bullying on and off the playing field and in our workplaces.

Fast forward to 2014, The Miami Dolphins, NFL offensive lineman Jonathan Martin versus fellow lineman Richie Incognito bring the bully and the target to the front lines of management, and leadership. The pervasive attitude of our leaders let this type of harassment, abusive and unprofessional behavior found in the locker room go on. Moreover, the NFL leadership and management of these players support this type of behavior.

This behavior is insidious to the human sole and spirit as it weaves a destructive path of victim mentality. The target begins to fight back to keep the bully at bay. In addition, without their own awareness and understanding they too may become the bully. This cycle behavior is also generational in nature. The leadership, the management, and other players blame the target for retaliation. The leadership is in position of power to stop this behavior, and this harassment on the field and in the workplace, yes and they look the other way. The Queen Bee mentality is also very much alive in these attitudes and behaviors of the leadership.

More commonly, the target leaves the team and organization and the bullies stay behind and continues with the behaviors.

In order to stop this behavior, we need to hold accountable, yes let me repeat, hold accountable the leadership and the management to stop this insidious behavior, as it is the culture of their organization. Each of these people involved are part of the problem and not the solution.

It is not acceptable in the case of Martin versus Incognito in the report…

“they believe Martin was to blame for letting the situation get bad, that football lives by different rules, that bullies can bully back, and as a football player Martin should have known this.”

“It’s an image that has helped make the NFL very successful. And it has been generally terrible for the players.” As quoted from the article, ‘Can Football Be Bully-Free? By Jason Gay, WSJ, 2-14-14.

WSJ Article Can Football Be Bully Free

As reported in the same article as noted above, a few key traits, and behaviors…

“And yet he [Martin] keeps sinking. He is isolated inside the game he loves. His distress reaches a point where Martin sends a text message to a friend outlining the pros and cons of continuing to play. The cons are devastating:

• I hate going in every day.
• I am unable to socialize with my teammates in their crude manner
• I already have a lot of money. I could travel the world, get my degree. Then get a real job
• I could lose 70 lbs and feel good about my body
• I won’t die from CTE
• Maybe I’ll start to LIKE myself”

In summary, where was the Branch Rickey to help Martin? He was a leader who did the right thing…The NFL Leadership, Management of the Miami Dolphins is to blame, and don’t get let off the hook for creating a hostile working culture.

The NFL Leadership and Management passed the buck to Martin and Incognito as they allow this bully behavior as the culture of their team, their playing field, and yes their workplace. It is the leadership’s responsibility to notice the behavior, and do what is ever necessary to stop it, as it is harmful to the human spirit, the human psyche; it is harassment in the nth degree.

(Never minds the millions of dollars wasted it costs to let these behaviors continue in our society).

Can Football Be Bully-Free_WSJ_2-14-14_PDF

WSJ Article Can Football Be Bully Free


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About Linda Savanauskas

An accomplished talent management professional with experience in curriculum design, development of learning strategies, and professional skills development training programs for the workplace. Collaboration in training programs includes small and medium size businesses (SMB) to larger organizations from Raleigh to Charlotte, North Carolina. Virtual instructor led training can be offered to any location.