Only in the NFL can an elite degree be a negative.
A Harvard-educated former National Football League linebacker says that the academic credentials of Jonathan Martin -- the Stanford-educated son of Harvard lawyers who walked away from the Miami Dolphins last week under a barrage of bullying from teammates -- made him a target for abuse, according to Bloomberg.
Martin, in his second year in the league, left the team last week. His alleged abuser, 30-year old Richie Incognito, a football veteran, has been suspended pending an investigation. Incognito sent Martin, who is black, racist text messages and participated in other activities meant to shun, shame and degrade Martin, according to reports.
And Martin's mind may have had something to do with it, according to Isaiah Kacyvenski, who played linebacker for Harvard before playing seven seasons in the NFL, Bloomberg reported.
"I was made fun of for a lot of reasons," Kacyvenski told Bloomberg, adding that rookie hazing is a "Neanderthal" tradition that's nonetheless persisted.
While in the league, he went to great lengths to appear normal as to not draw attention to himself -- attention that always turned negative.
"Having someone be the butt of jokes has been around for a long time," he told Bloomberg. "It’s like a cancer that eats away at your team."
Martin and Incognito are massive men, elite football players who play next to each other on the offensive line but they are very different people: Martin, 24, studied classics at Stanford; Incognito, 30, had discipline troubles at the University of Nebraska and was cut from the St. Louis Rams in 2009 for head-butts -- right before he was branded the NFL's dirtiest player.
Stanford coach David Shaw praised Martin for taking a stand against the abuse but pointed out other Stanford-educated players -- such as Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, and Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, the latter of which attended high school in the East Bay -- appear to be doing just fine.