At a time when the NFL frets about parents keeping their children out of football due to the potential long-term impact of concussions, the league also should at least be a bit concerned about the possible fallout of the still-unfolding situation in Miami — and the manner in which some current players, former players, and personnel executives are reacting to it.
Football is premised on the commission of violence in controlled circumstances. Football celebrates those who will commit violence on demand. Football tolerates, at times, those who can’t quite flip the switch back to off.
Consider this comment from an unnamed personnel executive to Jim Trotter of SI.com: “Incognito is an A-Hole, however I’m pretty sure you would want him beside you if you are in a bar fight. Tough as nails.”
The message? It’s better to have a guy who will be an “A-Hole” on and off the field than a guy who is neither.
Football coaches at every level, whether they admit it or not, want their players to be mean. The goal seems to be to make them mean on the field, and to deal separately with the manner in which being mean on the field can spill over to their lives away from the field if/when it becomes a problem.
Most players are capable of being mean on the field and not mean off the field. Still, football craves players who will be mean on the field, and football prefers both to neither.
The Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito saga could prompt some parents to ensure that their children remain in the neither category by keeping them away from a sport that ultimately could put them in both.