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Incognito and Martin: the NFL workplace

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The unprecedented commotion between football players Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito provides an interesting incite into the workplace of the National Football League. The fact that for most employees and employers the circumstances surrounding this set of incidents would be unheard of reflects the childish “boys will be boys” attitude that has apparently been pervasive in the Miami Dolphins organization.

These “boys” work in an environment in which they are only as good as their next job assignment. That “job” is performed in front of millions of “customers” known as “fans” each Sunday, Monday or Thursday afternoon or night.

These “boys” are men between the ages of 22 and 37 years old. For the most part nearly all of these men have 2 to 6 years of college education, have worked in the “apprentice” or training for this job for up to 10 years before becoming professionally paid for their work.

There is no application for these on the field jobs in the NFL. These men are sought out, background-checked, physically examined like race horses or greyhounds at the track and supposedly mentally diagnosed before there is ever a face to face interview for the “job.”

There is no “HR” department for these men in the individual football franchises. If there is one, that department is comprised of the Owner, President, General Manager, and Head Coach.

These men sign individual contracts that spell out their job, their behavior while on the job, and how much they are paid based on individual talent and the negotiating abilities of those players who warrant or have an “agent” representing them. But even the best agent can’t prevent these men from being betrayed by their bodies via broken bones, strained tendons and muscles and life changing brain injury.

Why then is it necessary to have college level pranks taking place with the sole purpose being to challenge the manhood or the “toughness” of a co-worker who was approved for this job on the same basis as every other person on the front line of this workplace?

For sure the situation among the Miami Dolphins is not unique as we now know from the dozens of revelations made public by ex-NFL players turned commentators on network television and radio shows. The comments giving left hand support to this behavior as “the way it is” does not make it any more correct.

One has to wonder if this type of behavior is being displayed toward a first year clerk in the front office of the Dolphins or the Cowboys, or the Giants, or the Saints, or the(name your team)……..



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