It's unsurprising to see reports indicating that the Richie Incognito's harassment of Jonathan Martin began in the upper levels of management. Via Deadspin, here is some reporting from The Sun Sentinel:
Miami Dolphins coaches asked player Richie Incognito, who was the offensive line's undisputed leader, to toughen up teammate Jonathan Martin after he missed a voluntary workout last spring, multiple sources told the Sun Sentinel.
The sources told the paper they believe that Incognito, who is accused of using racially incendiary language and bullying tactics against Martin, may have taken those orders too far...
Even though OTA workouts are voluntary, the NFL culture forces coaches to strong arm the team's leaders to make sure everyone attends. Sources say Incognito was doing his job, but they admit he crossed the line.
"Richie is the type of guy where if he's on your team you love him," a teammate said. "If he's not on your team, you hate him. Every team needs a guy like that."
A Dolphins spokesman declined comment when told about Incognito's directives from the coaching staff, saying the franchise is fully cooperating with the NFL's independent investigation, which was requested by owner Steve Ross.
There's been a lot of what my mother used to call "If I Hadda Had My Gun" talk around this story. On the one hand you have the keyboard commandos and sensitive thugs in NFL front offices popping off about "going down swinging." On the other you have players blaming Martin and invoking their own "toughness" and "manliness."
There is something bizarre about all this talk about strength and ass-kicking. No other athlete in a major sport gives so much of his body and gets so little in return than the average player on a NFL team. These are men who—on balance—earn their greatest payday in their most vulnerable and immature years. Those years are generally brief, while the injuries sustained often last a lifetime. The average NFL player emerges into the world with three years of service, and without a college degree. All the while another group of people make millions watching these young men blow out shoulders, knees, and perhaps ultimately, brains.