Martin's upbringing stifled him, rendered him speechless amid the hypersexual, hypervulgar, hyperracial world of the Dolphins' locker room, and it underscored a point worth considering: Education is not always a valued commodity in the NFL. It can be looked upon with derision, as a sign that its owner lacks a certain desperation needed to succeed. Martin might be the first person to express shame at having a Stanford education.
At this point, defending Incognito is nearly impossible unless it's part of a purely academic exercise. The idea that this is boys being boys, that every 20-something would be in trouble if his text messages to his friends were examined without context, is a classic straw man. If your boys-will-be-boys messages lead another human being to quit a job and seek psychiatric help, then by all means feel free to share your "wisdom." Otherwise, spare us.
Incognito's Twitter rampage against Martin the other day, which allowed him to add cyberbullying to his already-impressive résumé, was indicative of a desperate and ignorant man. He decided to reveal suicidal thoughts Martin allegedly confided in him, without the self-awareness to understand that he might have been the source of them. He suggested the truth would set him free, perhaps aware that the truth -- at least Ted Wells' truth -- was about to render him unemployable.
The vileness he directed at Martin's sister is almost embarrassing to read. The idea of someone not only thinking those things but also relaying them to Martin is unthinkable. It's safe to say they paint a somewhat different portrait than the one on public view when Incognito put on his big puppy dog act for Jay Glazer.
Incognito reveled in his bullying. He cherished it. It was either ignored or tacitly encouraged by his employer, and it became a big part of his identity. In the Dolphins' "fine book," Incognito noted that he fined himself for "breaking JMart." After Martin left the team and the investigation was launched, Incognito told Pouncey to destroy the book.
Wells writes: "We view Incognito's entries in the fine book about 'breaking Jmart' and his attempt to destroy the fine book -- which was unsuccessful -- as evidence demonstrating his awareness that he had engaged in improper conduct toward Martin." This gives Incognito too much credit. He wasn't aware that it was wrong; he was aware that it would be perceived as being wrong. He knew it looked bad, and he knew people wouldn't understand. How else can you explain his defiance when challenged by head coach Joe Philbin on his behavior? He allegedly told Philbin he would keep talking the way he wanted to talk, and Philbin seemed powerless to stop it.
Philbin comes across as well-meaning and ineffective in Wells' report, and that's an improvement over most preconceptions. In essence, the head coach is praised for displaying -- in the most flattering interpretation -- benign incompetence. Allegedly a strong proponent of workplace respect, Philbin didn't know he was presiding over the most disrespectful and counterproductive workplace in American sports.
And maybe that's the perfect conclusion to the entire sordid episode. Irony stacked upon irony, ignorance upon ignorance, and maybe -- in a world that is far more civilized than the one Martin left behind -- the revelations will serve as a disinfectant.