Only partially obscured in the shadow of the Dolphins’ big Thursday night win is the story of Jonathan Martin, the offensive lineman who left the team to spend time with his family after “snapping” over a team prank. Based on a report from Fox Sports, however, it sounds like Martin has been at odds with his teammates for over a year now, and the team has done little to stop it.
Football players usually describe their teammates as “brothers” and say that the organization is like a big family. Now, brothers mess with each other and give each other a hard time occasionally. But the relationship between Martin and his teammates appears to be more “school outcast/school bullies” than “little brother/big brothers.” From Alex Marvez:
Martin left Dolphins headquarters on Monday when finally reaching his limit with the persistent bullying and teasing from some teammates that has plagued him since joining Miami as a 2012 second-round draft choice. As first reported by FOX Sports NFL insider Jay Glazer, the latest taunt – a group of players stood up and left when he tried joining them for lunch – led to Martin getting up himself and walking out the door.
Is there anything sadder than an image of a guy eating alone at the lunch table? (Well, of course there is — but in the realm of “first world problems,” this ranks up there.) Martin was also called “Big Weirdo,” and the organization was reportedly aware that “the cruel actions of some teammates toward Martin went well beyond the customary hazing sometimes given to NFL rookies and youngsters.”
It’s difficult to say how much of Martin’s distress came from his teammates’ taunts and how much came from his own inner turmoil. Other reports have said that Martin suffered an “emotional breakdown” and is now in counseling, which appears to shift some of the blame for Martin’s feelings onto Martin himself.
Most of the NFL-players-turned-analysts say that getting back with their teammates was always the best medicine for them when they were going through problems. But it sounds like being with teammates was (a big part of) the problem for Martin.
And that’s really confusing. Based on what we’ve seen of him (mostly in last year’s “Hard Knocks” with the Dolphins), coach Joe Philbin appears to be a no-nonsense guy. He runs a tight ship, and has little patience for distractions (see: Johnson, Chad). So how did he, and the team’s veteran leaders, let things get to this point? Surely someone must have noticed Martin’s distress building over a year and half of teasing. The blame for this falls at their feet. I could see something like this happening in, say, Tampa Bay. But the apparent lack of discipline here is startling.
It’s hard to feel bad for a guy like Martin, a Stanford-educated football player who makes a lot more money than most people. But when you’re feeling down, and the guys you spend most of your day with don’t seem to like or respect you, it can feel like the whole world is against you. We know that feel, bro:
Here’s to hoping things will get patched up soon.
Photo via Getty