Re "The NFL's bully boys," Opinion, Nov. 12
Neal Gabler takes the abuse of boys and men through football to a new dimension. The social abuse that football inflicts on its players is profound and is reflected in their job prospects.
In the old days, when football heroes actually graduated, they didn't go from hero to zero in one day in June. Instead, they went to work in America's factories, where they were frequently promoted to foreman because of the tactical skills learned in the game.
But what are the prospects for a football player today — even a professional NFL player — who has been acclimatized to a "disregard for anything 'soft'"?
How can anyone wonder that so many players of the Miami Dolphins are eager to defend the crude social atmosphere of the NFL? They have little choice: This is the best job they can possibly hold.
When considered in the context of an NFL team's locker room, bullying can arguably be considered as part of the bravado and machismo that accompany the pro football game. Unfortunately, this bullying is merely a reflection of a more subtle but far more serious machismo in government and elsewhere.
Who can forget George W. Bush's infamous "bring 'em on" taunt to insurgents in Iraq? Today, everyone in our military is regarded as a warrior, bestowing on him or her a degree of invincibility.
We try to impose some sanity into our antiquated gun laws, only to be shouted down by those who would rather fight than compromise. In some areas of the nation, individuals delight in walking into restaurants with their guns, as a display of aggression and manliness.
We all love our football and consider the accompanying machismo just part of the game. Beyond football, however, these qualities have graver consequences.
A leopard can't change its spots, nor can a man deny the testosterone that fuels his psyche. As unfortunate as that may be in some cases — and the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin dust-up is an excellent example — that's the way it is.
The men who play football in the NFL clearly relish the nature of the game, its violence and its tradition of male bonding. The "sack dance" and end-zone demonstration following a touchdown, in another time, might have featured a head hoisted on a spear point.
We've come a long way, most of us, from tribesmen celebrating a kill. But clearly, we still have a long journey ahead of us.