KPIX 5 Sports Director Dennis O’Donnell hosts “Gameday” every Sunday night at 11:30pm on KPIX 5 and offers his unique sports analysis here.
SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — When Jonathan Martin signed with the 49ers, he characterized it as a blank slate. When asked about the bully, Richie Incognito, Martin said it’s “all in the past.” I wish Martin would have used his first interview with the 49ers to stand up and speak out against bullies everywhere.
Speak to all the kids who hate school because of the bullies waiting for them at the door step. Speak to the parents who allow the actions to persist. Speak to the teachers, and the coaches, and the bullies, themselves. Tell them, it is not ok.
It is a fact that approximately 160,000 teenagers skip school every day because of bullying. And amazingly, only one in four teachers sees nothing wrong with bullying. Ninety percent of fourth through eighth graders report being victims of bullying.
Jim Harbaugh stood up and gave Jonathan Martin a second chance. I’d like to see Martin turn a negative, life-altering experience into a positive one. I’d like to see him give kids a second chance. Tell them what to do, how to respond, and that it’s ok to not respond with violence.
I’ve received several emails from viewers who blame Martin for not standing up for himself. To those, I would urge you to read the NFL’s investigation that found Incognito and two other players and a trainer guilty of harassment. Martin said the bullying drove him into such a deep depression that he considered suicide.
Martin stands 6-5, weighs 312 pounds. Sometimes, it takes a bigger man to walk away.
But the point is this. Somewhere, right now, a teenager is thinking about taking his or her life because of a bully. And perhaps that kid doesn’t stand 6-5.
Jonathan Martin is getting another chance to protect his quarterback. I hope he’ll use his platform as an NFL player to protect kids, too.
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