Boys will be boys.
Strip away the extraneous verbiage and that is what much of the defense of Richie Incognito boils down to. Incognito, a Miami Dolphins lineman, was booted from the team a few days ago — perhaps permanently — for abusive conduct, racist language and bullying behavior toward fellow lineman Jonathan Martin. Incognito's teammates are firmly on his side.
"I don't feel like any hazing or anything like that was going on," Mike Wallace told my colleague Greg Cote of the Miami Herald. "It's normal in football. ... It's what football teams do, like playing with your brothers."
"Rite of passage," said another player, Cam Wake. "You have to pay your dues to get certain privileges. ... Football is the best fraternity I can think of."
Boys will be boys.
And there is a kernel of truth there. Our culture sometimes devalues the bumptious, rowdy, chest-bumping, testosterone-fueled swagger that typifies boys and men. We want them to be "sensitive" and "in touch" with their feelings. We consider it enlightened to allow men to cry, but sometimes fail to appreciate that a man might also find value in toughing it out.
But before we go too far down that road, consider a voicemail Martin says his teammate left him. Incognito, who is white, reportedly greeted Martin, who is biracial, as follows:
"Hey, wassup, you half-n — — — piece of s — -. I saw you on Twitter, you been training 10 weeks. Want to s — — in your f — — — mouth. I'm going to slap your f — — — mouth, I'm going to slap your real mother across the face (laughter). F — — you, you're still a rookie. I'll kill you."
Boys will be boys? Um ... no.
And apparently, that's just a sampling of Incognito's charm. Among his other alleged misdeeds: pressuring Martin to pay $15,000 for a party in Vegas that Martin did not even attend. The final straw was apparently a "prank" where Martin sat down at a table in the lunchroom — and everybody else got up and left. Martin is on leave from the team and is said to be in therapy.