As seen in the case of Jonathan Martin, bullying unfortunately doesn’t stop after high school.
NFL player Martin, 24, left the Miami Dolphins after being targeted with vulgar comments, racial slurs, a physical attack, and threats to him and his family from his own teammates for over one entire season. As a graduate from Stanford University, Martin was drafted in 2012 and was a starter in every game with the Dolphins. However, the blatant malice with which he was faced compelled him to cut ties with the team.
Martin’s seeking of help for emotional issues made some people question Martin’s mental toughness. Yet the real issue lies in the mistreatment that he must have had to face day-by-day.
As David Cornwell, Martin’s attorney, states, “Jonathan Martin’s toughness is not an issue . . . The issue is Jonathan’s treatment by his teammates.”
A transcript of a voicemail sent from Richie Incognito, a player accused of harassment, to Martin shows Incognito calling Martin racial epithets and using other profane language. In the voicemail, Incognito refers to Martin as a “half (racial expletive) piece of (expletive) . . . (Expletive) you, you’re still a rookie. I’ll kill you.” This voicemail is being used as evidence of Martin’s harassment.
In addition, Martin faced a malicious physical attack and rude comments from his teammates as well as a threat of sexual assault against his own family members.
May Song, a junior at Jordan High School, expresses her anger towards the maltreatment of Martin. “I don’t understand why adults are not handling their issues with maturity. Even I, as well as my other friends in high school, know that bullying is wrong. Violence and threats should never be the answer to anything, and [the adults] should know this.”
As difficult of a choice it may have been, Martin decided to leave the team. But he didn’t leave simply to save his life and family; rather, he did so in order to show that bullying and violence of any shape or form will not be tolerated. This sends a clear message to society, especially its high schoolers, that the issue of bullying must neither be overlooked nor downplayed.
Rather than regard Jonathan Martin – the victim of reprehensible harassment – as a “weakling,” individuals should view him as a hero for standing up against maltreatment and risking his own reputation in doing so. Martin values his family and self over the hurtful words and threats of others. His courage is something from which all individuals can be inspired.