A definition for the word “bully” is a person who uses strength and power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker, according to the Oxford American Dictionary.
For many, the classic case of bullying is the grammar school playground scene: An alpha dominant kid, far taller and heavier than the rest of his classmates, draws a line in the dirt and dares anyone not in his chosen circle to cross over it, even shaking them down for their lunch money on occasions.
Of course, I crafted the above scenario by recalling the early 1960s when I was in grammar school. Back then, the worst outcome generally consisted of a bloody nose and a visit to the principal’s office.
As is the case with every other aspect of humanity, bullying has evolved with the advances in technology. The trendy term in the year 2013 is “cyberbullying,” where a young person torments, threatens, harasses or embarrasses another young person using the Internet or other technologies, like cell phones.
As one expert stated: “The psychological and emotional outcomes of cyberbullying are similar to those of real-life bullying. The difference is real-life bullying often ends when school ends. For cyberbullying, there is no escape. And, it’s getting worse.”
Still, cyberbullying has resulted in several teens committing suicide.
A case that comes to mind is 13-year-old Megan Meier, which garnered national attention. Thinking she had befriended a cute boy named Josh Evans on Myspace, Megan began receiving hateful messages calling her “fat” and “a slut.” Already suffering from low self-esteem, Megan hanged herself in a bedroom closet on Oct. 16, 2006.
Come to find out, there never was a Josh Evans.
It was the mother of a former friend of Megan’s who had created a fictitious profile in order to gain her trust and learn what she was saying about her daughter.
Further, when news of a cyberbullying-related suicide goes viral, primetime news stations will have high-profile attorneys and legislators as guests, all of whom will announce that “something has to be done to avoid these tragedies.” Yeah, right.
What actually prompted me to write a column about bullying, though, is the case of professional football player Richie Incognito.
Having won numerous awards as an offensive lineman at the University of Nebraska, Incognito impressed scouts at the 2005 NFL Combine, being referred to as “the strongest and most explosive player in attendance.”
First playing with the St. Louis Rams from 2005-2009, then a short stint with the Buffalo Bills, Incognito ended up with the Miami Dolphins in 2010. He quickly was lauded as being one of the best at pass blocking efficiency, and made his first Pro Bowl appearance in 2012.
However, all the while, he was gaining the reputation as being one of the dirtiest players in the NFL.
In early November, primetime news reported Incognito’s alleged bullying of Dolphins’ teammate Jonathon Martin. The allegations included claims that Incognito was sending Martin hateful texts and voicemails that included racial slurs and that he extorted $15,000 from him to finance a trip to Las Vegas with friends.
Too, it has been written that Incognito bullied other Dolphins teammates.
Regardless, Martin left the Dolphins in late October. One month later, the Dolphins suspended Incognito indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team.
My point is this: NFL players are in the upper 1 percent of 1percent of the world population in terms of size, power and speed.
Therefore, you have to ask yourself: How could someone – other than Bigfoot himself – bully NFL-caliber men?
For me, the thought of Incognito successfully bullying fellow teammates is impressive to the extent of being downright scary.
It will prove interesting to see what Incognito’s status in society will be five years from now.