It's a new week, friends, and that means we’re throwing the doors wide open to you and your questions, comments, complaints, rants and one-liners here in the Shutdown Mailbag. You know the drill here: unburden your football soul via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @jaybusbee. Now, gather ‘round. We're starting out by talking Richie Incognito, bullying, and free speech.
How does calling Jonathan Martin out, and leaving a threatening racist voicemail, going to make him a better football player? Bill Walsh and Nick Saban feel the act of hazing takes away from the real task at hand, which is winning football games. I believe Richie Incognito is afraid of what he doesn't understand. Martin is biracial, has parents who are affluent and are both lawyers, and Martin is an introvert, and by all accounts an intellectual. Usually bullies pick on what they find threatening, and to me this screams of Incognito being the insecure one, not Martin.
That's wading a little deep into the psychological waters for me; I'm not sure Incognito sees the rest of the world as anything but targets. But your point about hazing not leading to team unity is a valid one. There's a reason that top-flight coaches don't put up with hazing, there's a reason the Marines (you know, actual warriors, not NFL Films-created ones) have banned it: because hazing puts cracks in the foundation of a team. There's always going to be resentment, there's always going to be an attempt to one-up what was done to you. Incognito has been enabled his entire football life, mainly because nobody's got the guts to tell him no, but a guy like that, who places his own childish "toughen-up" games over the good of the team, is absolutely cancerous in a locker room.
Now, please nobody tell him I said that. He'd pull me apart like a wishbone.
I'm going to come way out of left field here but are we forgetting free speech? WHILE I DO NOT CONDONE RACIAL SLURS, it's very important that Incognito be allowed to say it because of freedom of speech. As much as I hate it, even bigots and just sacks of [waste] can say anything they please. This is really important next time you want to say anything. With that being said, this guy is a huge [sanitary device] for calling and harrassing a teammate and just overall being a waste.
Jeff, you've got a bit of a misapprehension of what freedom of speech actually is. Nobody's saying Incognito can't say what he says, no matter how thunderingly stupid it might be. Freedom of speech is not freedom of consequence from speech; you say something stupid, you may very well get fired for it.
For instance, if I said in this column that [name redacted] was actually a [redacted] and I thought he deserved to be [redacted] with a rusty [redacted], well, Yahoo might decide that I didn't meet their standards of behavior. And that's their right, given that I'm a representative of the big purple Y in this capacity. In Incognito's case, if his speech reflects badly on the Dolphins, it's within their rights to decide they don't want to be associated with him any longer. But he's not going to get jailed for it. Make sense? "Freedom of speech" is not a get-out-of-PC-jail-free card.
That said, [name redacted] really is a [redacted].
Why is it the networks always show the cheerleaders from the waist up instead of showing the rest of their bodies?
Are you people trying to get me fired? Of course it's because, as we all know, cheerleaders
[entire very descriptive paragraph redacted]
- shame you can't wear high heels on grass, am I right? Anyway, I hope that clears it up.
All right, let's cleanse the palate with a little Ditka:
Man, the '80s were awesome. The music, the fashion, the goofy white dudes ... well, that hasn't changed, at least. But who would think Ditka would still be relevant nearly 30 years after this commercial? Outside of Chicago, of course.
I hope Aaron Rodgers stays out until he is completely healed and not pressured into coming back too soon. But how is it that one person goes down and the team is no longer a threat? If I was a coach for a multimillion-dollar franchise with multimillion-dollar players, I would make sure that everybody on the team would be able to play at least three different positions, and switch players throughout the game.
I cannot see any problem with that at all. I particularly look forward to the time when the kicker lines up at offensive tackle and gets devoured by Ndamukong Suh. Not metaphorically. Literally eaten and digested.
Could you imagine if Andre Johnson actually had a good QB throwing to him?
What are you talking about? Case Keenum hit him for three touchdowns in one half last week! At that rate, he'd score 96 touchdowns in a year, which I'm pretty sure is a record.
Seriously, I like the cut of Keenum's jib, and Johnson's exactly the kind of surehanded player that a gunslingin' rookie needs downfield. He could be the Texans' equivalent of Tony Gonzalez for Matt Ryan: always there if there's no other option. And this week, Keenum will probably throw a long pass that leads him straight into an exercise bike or gaggle of cheerleaders or something on the sidelines, and Johnson will tear both knees to shreds.
What is the DEAL with airplane food? I mean, why do they even make bagels that small? Seven bucks for rubber chicken?
Men and women! They're so different, am I right?
Seriously: Biscoff cookies, man. Biscoff. I will seriously steal those Biscoffs by the handful while the flight attendant's back is turned. I mean, like, enough to get the air marshal's attention. For me, a plane flight isn't a plane flight without the risk of the plastic manacles getting put to use. (Unrelated: Read @DanLevyThinks' "Wide Left" column over at Bleacher Report. It's good stuff.)
All right, friends, that’ll do it for this week. Think you can do better than this week’s round of letter-writers? Take your shot by emailing or tweeting via the contacts below. This is also a reminder that you can tune in to our twice-weekly podcast, the catchily-named Shutdown Corner Podcast, right here on iTunes. And come on back to Shutdown Corner every day, multiple times a day, for the best NFL coverage in the known universe.
Enjoy the games, everybody!