The ever-evolving bullying scandal with Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to locker room culture in today’s NFL.
And with NFL draft hopeful, Michael Sam recently admitting he was gay, it creates another challenge for Commissioner Goodell on the direction to take the culture of his league.
What hasn’t been discussed enough is the stand Bears WR, Brandon Marshall, made earlier in the 2013 season on mental health awareness.
During the annual Breast Cancer Awareness game, Marshall wore green cleats instead of the issue pink during Mental Health Awareness Week. After a fine from the NFL uniform police, Marshall explained the $10,500 fine was nothing compared to the awareness wearing the cleats brought in return.
Flash forward a few months and here we are; still talking about Incognito, what Martin should or shouldn’t have done and if Michael Sam will be accepted into the NFL culture.
Which brings about the next video from the folks at Miss Representation. A group normally focused on the negative view of women in the media, this time they turn their efforts on the men and the negative effects of how they were raised.
When a boy is young, he’s told not to cry or show emotion, to keep it all bottled inside or man up, seems that it’s a direct correlation to the NFL locker room culture.
I’m not a man so I can’t speak on the challenges of not being able to show emotion. And I’ll be honest, when the Incognito scandal first broke, my initial reaction was “Martin should have manned-up and talked to him about it.”
But after watching that video, I wonder what happened where Martin decided to back away from a game he’s trained for his whole life instead of speaking up?
Is Marshall and Miss Representation right in that we need to look how we raise our boys in this country? It’s an interesting debate that isn’t going away any time soon. Especially as media cameras put their sights solely on the first teams to take a chance on Sam, Martin and Incognito.
So while this NFL debate of locker room culture will continue with what should or shouldn’t happen in a non-corporate environment, I believe we’re missing the biggest point– no matter what your profession, acting with integrity should always be valued.
Because culture is contagious. And teams can either breed strong moral men or apologize for their ignorance and missteps.