It’s not always a good thing when you get the two Pouncey brothers together—they might wear a hat, for example—but they have generally been on their best behavior in recent years, presumably spending some time maturing, as they themselves have said.
With the Pittsburgh Steelers, Maurkice Pouncey in particular has had a stronger foundation of discipline around him that has not only helped to ‘keep him in check’, such that that would apply, but given him the opportunity to rise up and become a vocal leader within not just the offense, but the team as a whole. After all, he is one of the most veteran players even if he remains just 28 years old.
His brother with the Miami Dolphins, Mike Pouncey, has not had as clean a record. It was roughly four years ago that an independent NFL-funded investigation found himself, Richie Incognito, and John Jerry responsible for bullying and harassment of former teammate Jonathan Martin, as well as another unnamed player and staff member.
Why is this relevant now? Because Martin, who has struggled with mental health issues that he at least in part attributes to a history of bullying that extends back to his high school life, recently caused quite a stir with a post on social media that got law enforcement involved.
Martin shared a photo on Instagram of a shotgun with shells laid out on a bed. “When you’re a bully victim & a coward, your options are suicide, or revenge”, he wrote. He also included the tags of former teammates who harassed him, including Pouncey, and hashtags of the Dolphins and his former high school.
In response to this post, which came after the wake of a deadly school shooting in Florida that left 17 dead, he was taken into custody, but since released, and has now checked into a mental health facility. His former high school, Harvard-Westlake, was also closed in response to the apparent threat.
Martin suffers from depression and is a survivor of multiple suicide attempts. It’s clear by now that the culture of an NFL locker room was probably never the best environment for him, but what he experienced in the Dolphins’ locker room likely represents an extreme example, all the same.
After the initial report came out four years ago, Pouncey’s father said that he hoped “something good comes from all this coming out — that they make some rules against bullying. If it’s been happening, then they need to put a group on it to make it stop”. He also that that “it’s got to be a fairer world. We need to take care of the weaker ones and the innocent”.
Both brothers were first-round draft picks, Maurkice 18th overall in 2010 and Mike 15th overall in 2010, and both are multiple-time Pro Bowlers Mike had an injury-plagued 2016 season but came back to start every game in 2017