Defending my alma mater
However, I felt compelled to write this piece to defend against one of the silliest and laziest narratives to come out of the entire episode: Jonathan Martin lacked the toughness for the NFL because he went to Stanford. On ESPN we see the so-called "pundits" debating whether players who attend top-tier educational institutions like Stanford are cut out for the NFL. Similar sentiments have been sprawled across the blogosphere, the Twitterverse and the Internet as a whole. This argument is completely asinine and Baylessian.
Jonathan Martin is one individual who may or may not have fit into the Dolphins locker room and may or may not have been mistreated by his elder teammates. I say "may or may not" because all the facts have still yet to bear themselves out. But the key part of that statement is "one individual." You don't need a Stanford education to know that one person does not equal a trend -- in fact it doesn't even warrant notice in the correlation versus causation argument.
If you want a trend, it is the toughness displayed by Stanford players both in college and in the NFL in recent years. In 2006 Stanford went 1-11. By 2012 the program had gone to 3 consecutive BCS bowl games. In between Jim Harbaugh (no one would question his toughness, would they?) came through and lead a resurrection of the program by instilling a blue-collar (with the shirts to match) mentality.
Now, Stanford is seen as a bully in the college football landscape -- a rare program that would rather run through you than around you. This is the team that ran "power" 10 straight plays (right behind Jonathan Martin, actually) in 2009 at the Coliseum right down the throat of Pete Carroll's USC squad en route to a 55-21 drubbing.
In the lead up to tonight's showdown with No. 3 Oregon, articles about the two teams' contrasting styles -- Oregon built on speed, Stanford on power -- are sprawled across that same Internet where the stories questioning Martin's toughness because of his alma mater. A good example is Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel's Tuesday feature entitled, "Lessons in toughness: The rise of Stanford linebacker Trent Murphy."
How do you reconcile that story next to the ones about Stanford "softness?"
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