A Dolphin Bullied: Jonathan Martin's NFL Experience in Miami (a)

15 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2022 Last revised: 13 Aug 2022

See all articles by Allison Elias

Allison Elias

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Aldo Sesia

Independent

Abstract

In 2013, Jonathan Martin, a starting lineman for the Miami Dolphins, left the team. He cited the negative effects of the team's culture—specifically, bullying and mistreatment by several of his teammates—on his well-being, saying it had contributed to depression and thoughts of self-harm. The news of Martin's departure exploded across media channels in the following days. At the behest of the Dolphins' ownership, the US National Football League (NFL) hired a law firm to investigate. On February 14, 2014, the law firm's findings (called the Wells Report) were released to the public, and they were damning. There was clear evidence of harassment targeting Martin as well as others on the Dolphins team. But while some within the NFL reacted to the findings with dismay, others said that playing football was "a man's job," and indicated that the behavior called bullying and harassment was simply part of the high-testosterone culture.This public-sourced case and its follow-up, "A Dolphin Bullied: Jonathan Martin's NFL Experience in Miami (B)" (UVA-E-0481) use the context of the NFL to expand student understanding of gender binaries as shaped by racial and socioeconomic factors, and to discuss possible interventions to diminish turnover and promote inclusion. They promote a discussion of how underrepresented individuals navigate a work environment where they are not prototypical. This case also allows for a discussion of mental health as part of a broader focus on wellness at work.

Excerpt

Rev. Aug. 31, 2022

A Dolphin Bullied: Jonathan Martin's NFL Experience in Miami (A)

On October 28, 2013, Jonathan Martin, a starting lineman for the Miami Dolphins, part of the National Football League (NFL), was in line at the team's cafeteria, when he heard teammate Richie Incognito, seated nearby at a table, call him a derogatory term. When Martin moved to join the group at the table, Incognito and the other players got up and moved. Martin threw his tray of food to the floor and left the building.

That very day, the six-foot-five-inch tall, 312-pound left tackle checked himself into a hospital to receive psychiatric services for emotional distress after being harassed and bullied by several teammates for over a year. Martin cited the treatment of his linemates as contributing to his periods of depression and thoughts of self-harm.

. . .

Keywords: workplace harassment, newcomers, professional identity, turnover, NFL, National Football League, Black protagonist, diversity, power dynamics, power, gender, sexuality, racism, sexism, crisis management, managing diverse teams, ethics, ethical decision-making, BIPOC, DEI, DEIB, mental health

Suggested Citation

Elias, Allison and Sesia, Aldo, A Dolphin Bullied: Jonathan Martin's NFL Experience in Miami (a). Darden Case No. UVA-E-0477, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4182737

Allison Elias (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

Aldo Sesia

Independent

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