Ask the mediator: Will Goodell 'emasculate' the NFL?

The Martin-Incognito conflict is a team problem not an opportunity to weaken players or “emasculate” the NFL.  That’s not the character of football. Photo: AP

WASHINGTON, November 13, 2013 — Q: What if Miami Dolphin’s offensive lineman Richie Incognito’s role was to serve as John Martin’s peer motivational mental coach having been recruited by the Miami Dolphin coaching staff/management to toughen up Martin? 

A: As a second-round draft choice, the Dolphins had a lot invested in Martin. Perhaps, Incognito’s actions were sanctioned by the Dolphin’s organization to make Martin, a marquee player, into an aggressive tackler who wanted to “take somebody’s head off,” figuratively speaking.  The goal was to win the game and ultimately win the Super Bowl.

SEE RELATED: Richie Incognito is neither a bully nor a racist

Football is a physical and mental game. Martin certainly seemed capable of mastering the physical challenges of the sport. However, he may have feared failing and it affected his performance, or maybe he was too self-conscious, or simple couldn’t handle the anxiety and tension of competition.  

Why didn’t the Dolphin’s simply hire a performance strategist, like Tony Robbins to work with Martin?  Robbins could have helped Martin better understand what drove him to under perform?  Additionally, Robbins could have focused on what shaped Martin, what is his worldview and what attracted him to football beyond an intellectual understanding. 

Robbins says, in one of his classic YouTube segments, “human emotions can block ability.” Robbins goes on to say, “if we get the right emotion we can get ourselves to do anything, as emotions create activity.” 

Obviously, Incognito was never certified as a Tony Robbins motivational seminar coach.

SEE RELATED: NFL & the Miami Dolphins: Inside a professional football locker room

Yelling racial obscenities at Martin and texting disparaging remarks about his momma and sister didn’t did little to facilitate positive emotions within Martin.  It probably amplified Martin’s own self-doubts and negative thoughts.

Incognito says that Martin was his best friend. Yet, he never took the time to understand what influenced Martin or what would drive him to step up his performance. Threats and yelling of obscenities were the primary ways he connected with Martin.  However, Incognito’s psychological ploy to motivate Martin and shake him down for financial favors failed miserably.

If Martin’s lawyer, David Cornwell, takes this matter to trial, imagine what Martin and Incognito might say about each other in depositions or in court.  It would be a case of he said versus he said and could possibly damage the public’s opinion of NFL football players.

NFL Football is a 17 billion dollar business. In a preemptive move to put a lid on the problem, NFL Commissioner, Roger S. Goodell, appointed Ted Wells, a leading defense lawyer and senior partner at the New York law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to conduct an independent investigation and submit a report to the commissioner. However, if the NFL is Wells’ client, can he be impartial or act independently?

With all due respect, an independent Ombudsman (knowledgeable but not an agent of the NFL) not another lawyer is needed. A settlement or judgment won’t necessarily make Martin whole. If Martin was the victim of harassment and bullying, then Incognito and any other persons responsible should be held accountable and required to make amends to Martin in a reasonable manner.  

Clearly, the Miami Dolphins need to clean up their act.  However the Martin-Incognito conflict is a team problem and should not be seen as an opportunity to weaken players or “emasculate” the NFL. That’s not the character of football or what fans want.

Make a comment and send me your questions-




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Millicent Carvalho-Grevious

Dr. Millicent Carvalho-Grevious, is the founder and principal of Pennsylvania Conflict Resolution and Mediation Services, Inc. She has mediated conflicts for over 30 years, providing services in a variety of venues for private and public entities, including the United States Postal Service, the Office of Dispute Resolution of the Department of Education, and the office of Employer Support for the National Guard and Reserve. She was one of 14 conflict resolution experts from 11 nations invited to Chongqing, China in 2009 to participate in a forum titled, “Responding to the Challenges of Financial Crisis and Building Social Harmony.” Previously, she served as Director/Program Chair of Urban Studies and Community at LaSalle University, Associate Professor and Chair of Department of Social Work at Virginia Union University and Associate Professor and Social Work Department Chair at Delaware State University. She earned a Doctor of Philosophy, Master of Social Work and Master of Law and Social Policy degrees at Bryn Mawr College and Master of Education (Counselor Education) at Boston University and Bachelor of Arts at LaSalle University.

Contact Millicent Carvalho-Grevious


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