In the NFL, the older players haze the rookies. It has been that way at least as long as there has been an NFL. Like most rookies on the Miami Dolphin football team, Jonathan Martin, an African-American player was hazed. Unlike most rookies (and now a second year player), he walked away from his NFL job apparently because of the hazing. Mr. Martin disappeared last week with no explanation.
Nine year pro Richie Incognito was one of the players harassing Mr. Martin. Most hazing consists of rookies singing their almer mater during meals for the enjoyment of the senior players, or paying for dinner when they eat out. But, according to one report, Mr. Incognito sent racist and threatening texts to Mr. Martin, refrring to the young player as a "half n—–." Mr. Incognito is white. In other texts, he apparently threatened to kill Mr. Martin, to find him and to find his mother.
The older player was placed on suspension on Monday. Mr. Martin is still absent without explanation. See CBS news report. His co-workers on the team largely support the locker room culture which encourages harassment of younger players. See Miami Herald report. It is said that the incident which sparked Mr. Martin’s walkout occurred when he sat down for lunch, Mr. Incognito and others all rose and left the table.
Most jobs would not allow hazing. But, even hazing that is allowed cannot rise to the level of racial harassment. And, any hazing surely could not involve threats of physical violence. I am sure Mr. Incognito would explain his actions by arguing that they should be placed in some sort of context. But, racism and threats of violence have no place in any workplace.
Not to mention work efficiency. Both players are offensive tackles. It is their job to protect the quarterback. As the news report notes, the Dolphins’ quarterback has a league high 35 sacks midway through the season. How can workers cooperate and work together if they are threatening each other and making racist comments?