INCOGNITO SUSPENDED BY DOLPHINS
ESPN The Miami Dolphins made the right call suspending starting guard Richie Incognito on Sunday night. If most or all of the allegations against Incognito are true, he forced the Dolphins’ hand on this matter and deserves to be suspended. Miami’s Richie Incognito has been suspended indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team. This was not a football decision. Incognito is a solid veteran player who made the Pro Bowl in 2012. Suspending him certainly doesn’t make the offensive line better. But, it makes the Dolphins better in the locker room moving forward. Representatives for Miami right tackle Jonathan Martin contacted the Dolphins with their claims on Sunday. According to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen, Martin was forced to pay $15,000 for a players’ trip to Las Vegas that Martin did not attend and was the victim of persistent harassment, among other things. Martin also was in possession of threatening text messages from Incognito and at least one voicemail, according to ESPN’s report. Also, transcripts of voice mail messages and text messages left for Martin by Incognito indicate a pattern of racial epithets and profane language. This level of player misconduct by Incognito cannot be tolerated. The Dolphins had no choice but to remove the biggest culprit and set an example for the rest of the locker room. The irony is Incognito was part of Miami’s six-player leadership counsel this year. He was expected to set an example. The sign on his locker in recent weeks that read, “There are two things Richie Incognito does not like: Taxes and Rookies” now has a lot more meaning and context. Martin was a second-year player but claims to have been harassed since his rookie season. Knowing what the Dolphins now know there was no way they could allow Incognito to show up and address the media on Monday. The distraction from this story is big enough. Miami is a .500 team with plenty left to play for and eventually would like to get back to football. With Incognito out of the picture, the focus is now back on the Dolphins’ organization. Here is the first question: How did Miami allow this Martin situation to happen? Were the Dolphins and head coach Joe Philbin completely unaware of these issues within the locker room? Or did the Dolphins know details and choose to ignore them? Whatever the situation, the Dolphins deserve credit for finally taking control of a bad situation. By suspending Incognito, the Dolphins took a strong stance against harassment in the workplace. It’s a step in the right direction.
THE VOICEMAIL TRANSCRIPTS:
ESPN Transcripts of voice mail messages and text messages left for the Miami Dolphins’ Jonathan Martin by teammate Richie Incognito indicate a pattern of racial epithets and profane language. Multiple sources confirmed to ESPN that the following is a transcript of a voice message Incognito left for Martin in April 2013, a year after Martin was drafted: “Hey, wassup, you half n—– piece of s—. I saw you on Twitter, you been training 10 weeks. [I want to] s— in your f—ing mouth. [I’m going to] slap your f—ing mouth. [I’m going to] slap your real mother across the face [laughter]. F— you, you’re still a rookie. I’ll kill you.” Sources tell ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that officials from both the NFL and the Dolphins have heard the tape and have copies of the message. Sources familiar with the tapes say these are terms Incognito used over time and were not isolated incidents, including the use of the racial epithet multiple times. Sources also say Martin received a series of texts that include derogatory terms referring to the female anatomy and sexual orientation. Incognito was suspended indefinitely by the Dolphins on Sunday night for conduct detrimental to the team. In a statement announcing his suspension, the Dolphins said, “we believe in maintaining a culture of respect for one another and as a result we believe this decision is in the best interest of the organization at this time. As we noted earlier, we reached out to the NFL to conduct an objective and thorough review. We will continue to work with the league on this matter.” Incognito, who has been a part of Miami’s six-player leadership council, started all eight games for the Dolphins (4-4). He will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. Backup guard Nate Garner will start in his place. Martin left the team last week after a lunchroom incident. It is unknown whether and when Martin plans to return to the team. The Dolphins have until 4 p.m. ET Tuesday to take him off the non-football-related illness list.
Now you know the full story, Richie Incognito has been suspended indefinitely and will possibly be blackballed from the NFL, for bullying teammate Jonathan Martin. We live in an anti-bullying culture in America today, and the easy thing to do is blame Incognito, call him a racist bully and be done with the issue. This issue goes way beyond just blaming Incognito, and it could bring about a culture change in NFL locker rooms, where players with seniority have always pushed around the younger guys.
Obviously Richie a Incognito deserves a lot of blame, he should have never brought Martin’s race and threats to Martin and his family family into the hazing, and if he really forced Martin to give him $15,000 for a Vegas trip that Martin did not go on he basically extorted him. It has been long documented that Incognito was one of the leagues toughest and most violent players, and I am not surprised that he was a bully on and off of the field, the guy has anger issues. When I heard that Martin had been bullied by one of his fellow offensive linemen, the first thing I thought was “Incognito”, and if you know his history you should not be surprised by these accusations. He took the practice of seniority and hazing that is common in the NFL way too far, he constantly gave Martin a hard time, and he never let up. He was way out of line and he should be punished.
People who are surprised about bullying younger players need to remember that this had been going on since there has been football and probably competitive team sports, if you thought Incognito’s actions were bad, let’s revisit the actions of now legendary pass rusher Charles Haley as recounted in Jeff Pearlman’s chronicle of the Dallas Cowboys “Boys Will Be Boys”
Haley would stroll up to an unsuspecting (49er) teammate, whip out his phallus, and repeatedly stroke it in his face. Players initially laughed it off. But Haley refused to stop. He would jerk off in the locker room, in the trainer’s room. He’d wrap his hand around his phallus, turn toward a Joe Montana or John Taylor, and bellow, ‘You know you wanna suck this!’ ”Charles used to beat off in meetings while talking graphically about other players’ wives. It got to the point of ejaculation.”
Personally, I would rather be bullied by Richie Incognito than Charles Haley, and almost every player in NFL history has a story about getting hazed or bullied by the veterans. Rookies have long paid for veteran player’s meals, been forced to shave their heads and sing in front of the group, and much worse. There has always been hazing in the NFL.
This is why so many players, despite being sympathetic to Martin, are upset with the way that he handled this situation. Martin is 6’5 315lbs of man, he was a second round draft pick, and if Incognito took things this far Martin should have punched him in the mouth. Punching a bully in the mouth makes them stop, or at least pick a new target, really quick. If you show a bully you are willing to fight back, the bully usually gains respect for you, and moves on to a new target. If Martin was legitimately afraid of Incognito, he should have approached the coaching staff and the general manager, and kept this issue internal. There was no need to make this team issue a dominant national news topic for the world to debate, team issues are supposed to be kept as just that, things like this are settled in house in the NFL. It seems that most Ex-NFL players put some of the blame on Martin, and are of the mindset that when you are a grown man, you grow a pair and you deal with people like Incognito. You make sure they get the message.
This is why a lot of this blame has to go on the Dolphins organization, the front office and the coaching staff, for not having their finger on the pulse of the team. The organization, starting with head coach Joe Philbin and general manager Jeff Ireland need to be in constant communication with their players, this issue had apparently been escalating for a long time, and it is on the organization to keep these issues in- house. I am not buying that the coaching staff was totally oblivious to these issues between Martin and Incognito, who played next to each other every day from training camp until last week on the same side of the offensive line, when Martin flipped out and left the team. Maybe the organization chose to ignore these issues, but they had to know they existed, and it is their job to make sure that any problems between teammates are stopped before a situation like this occurs. These two players are supposed to be working together against a common enemy, the opponent, which is impossible to do with this much hostility between the two. It is the organization’s job to keep player relationships in check, and if a problem like this exists, to come to a resolution before it escalates to this point.
Maybe this feud is the reason that your quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been sacked a league leading 35.0 times, Miami Dolphins coaching staff, ever think about that? Maybe getting Martin and Incognito to reconcile would have helped you in the trenches and improved your football team.