TUNING IN TO THE TURMOIL BOWL TONIGHT?

The term “Turmoil Bowl” was used by a local South Florida journalist when pointing-out that the NFL “Monday Night Football” Game tonight has the Miami Dolphins (4-4) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-8). Generally, both the National Football League and the Broadcast Media prefer to have the very best match-ups possible. Will anybody be watching tonight?

This will truly be a lackluster game when the entire Football Fan Nation will be watching (or might have been) this one game. Also, other NFL Players often tune-in. But, tonight’s game may very well be overshadowed by the Locker-Room bullying in Miami. It brings-up both the question of Violence in Sports–and, now, off the field as well.

Its ironic that the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin controversy, which surfaced a week ago, occurs at a time when, just this past week, four former NFL Players, including Tony Dorsett (Dallas Cowboys) and Mark Duper (Miami Dolphins) have been diagnosed with signs of CTE. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, which was previously called Dementia Puglistica (remember “Punch Drunk”), appears to be caused from brain trauma, oftentimes from such athletics as: boxing, (American) football; ice hockey, wrestling and other contact sports. It can only be confirmed definitively postmortem.

The question of violence in sports has already been widely covered and the NFL Players Association currently is engaged in legal action against the NFL over head injuries. Improvements in equipment and rule changes can only help to a limited extent. Penalties often result in a hand-slap–a small team penalty or a minor fine. Remember that most of these players are paid Millions of Dollars; so, a $25,000 penalty, AFTER TAX, really isn’t much of a deterrent. Multiple game or season suspensions need to be imposed, and the Coaches and Administration need to be held to account. Players also really need to realize that the punishment they mete-out tonight might come back at them in the future.

The Incognito-Martin issue points out, at least to me, something that needs to be handled by proper coaching and mentoring, before it gets out of hand. Surely, other veteran players must have been aware that the bullying had gotten out of hand. I point-out the hazing in the World-renowned Florida A & M Marching 100 (Band) that resulted in the death of the Drum Major. Many NFL players seem to be taking the macho approach, suggesting that Jonathan should have manned-up. In a poll of some players, 47% said they would rather have Jonathan Martin as a team-mate and only 21% said Richie Incognito. Former NFL Coach Tony Dungee said, on TV yesterday, that, when Incognito was coming out of college, a number of teams had him on a “Do Not Draft” List. I guess that his reputation preceded him.

The concern for the NFL should be that this is but the first sign of potential over-the-top-bullying among team-mates. Keep in mind that many killers and others accused of violence–including children–had been bullied or treated harshly themselves. So, accepting violence as being all part of the game should not be an excuse. Just remember: Darrell Stingley (paralyzed for life in an NFL game); Marc Buoniconti (paralyzed in a College game decades ago); and, now Tony Dorsett, Mark Duper and many others, who are showing signs of CTE. Unfortunately, several others with CTE have already committed suicide. It certainly is time that the NFL took real action to reduce violence in Football.

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