Monday, November 18, 2013


Credit: The Today Show
As I listened to Brett Favre talk with Matt Lauer this morning on The Today Show, I wondered if he'd ever bullied anyone, anywhere, anytime.  He sounded like such a reasonable, mature gentleman. 

But then I remembered a scene I saw on The Closer recently: Fritz and Brenda are talking about his alcoholism.  She comments that he's not a monster, not like addicts are monsters.  He describes his behavior in the three days before he finally stopped drinking -- monstrous behavior that he was lucky did not harm anyone else.  Brenda insists that he's a good person, not a monster.  Fritz says, "I'm both, Brenda."

My brother once told me that even the nicest guy can be a total jerk.  That goes for women, too.

But what about bullies?  Aren't bullies different?  Or are we all quite capable of bullying others?

Favre was surprised, incredulous, when he heard that one Dolphins football player had accused another of bullying him.  Why is it so hard to believe, Brett?  The violent, super-macho working environment in the NFL would be fertile breeding ground for bullies, I'd imagine.  In fact, I'm surprised that we haven't heard about more bullying in the NFL.  What makes a bully?  We all know one when we experience one.  They can be in the office, at school, in clubs, anywhere there are people.  How are they different from people who a big teasers?  People who challenge us to be our best, to be tough?

It's all about power.  Bullies prey on the weak so that they can feel powerful in a world where they otherwise feel powerless.  They either don't understand the effect of their bullying behavior on others or they don't care.  But if someone stands up to them, shows power, they tend to back down and run away.  Some remain bullies for life.  Others face their powerlessness and its causes and grow. 

So, for that Dolphins player who thought he was toughening up the younger player, did he enjoy it?  Was there a rush involved?  Did it make him feel powerful?  The younger player was right in reporting the bullying behavior and putting a stop to it.  There are ways to support men, toughen up men, without making them feel powerless and humiliated in the process.


And that's where the line is.  When a guy is truly helping another guy, neither should feel powerless, or humiliated, or hurt, or even get a big rush of power out of it.  Football is a tough and violent sport.  Each player needs to be able to trust his teammates, to depend on them, to know they have his back.  Telling someone he's worthless, that you're going to kill him, or do some other violence to him if he doesn't toughen up, being physically violent in some way, all are not the way to cultivate trust, dependability, and loyalty.

Words have as much power as the fist.   

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