Player suspended from league for harassing teammate
By Mac Moore
Miami Dolphins starting guard Richie Incognito has been indefinitely suspended for bullying fellow player Jonathan Martin. Reports from ESPN’s Adam Schefter show a voicemail message that Incognito left for Martin where he used a racial epithet, threatens physical abuse, and the final line gave all the information needed to make any argument of context moot, “I’ll kill you.”
The discussion brought up because of the situation has been all over the map. Football players live by a different code, Martin should have stood up for himself, snitches get stitches and yada yada on the list of machismo crap.
The truth is, football players do live by a different code. The standards for bullying set forth for school children will be different than we set for NFL players. A football team is a group of 50 alpha males that work together for the one goal of physically abusing another group of 50 alpha males once a week. The things they say and do to each other will definitely break the reformed definition of bullying that we are trying to teach currently.
I played football in junior high and high school. It is a very testosterone fueled environment; it is also a very united environment. Many of the things we did would be frowned upon in school, at work, or anywhere within the general public. Instead of those things hurting us, they made us closer, more like a family.
New York Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara had a great point when discussing this with the media on Monday. He looked at the incident in comparison to the hazing he experienced as a rookie, specifically teammate Jason Pierre-Paul dunking him in a cold tub. The conclusion he came to was that his experience wouldn’t be considered bullying. He said none of it truly made him feel unsafe. What Incognito did was not the same.
Just from the Incognito voicemail, his actions don’t deserve the reactionary defense that he got from people. Once you threaten someone’s life, the nuance of the relationships on a football team means little.
Some of Incognito’s previous actions could be considered a red flag. Going back to his freshman year at Nebraska, every team he has been on have cut ties with him for his attitude. Incognito was named the “Dirtiest Player” from a players’ vote in both 2009 and second in 2012, although some players have taken this as a badge of honor, including Incognito.
What’s really scary is that everybody thought he was reformed. The dirtiest player honor seemed to take a backdoor to his Pro Bowl nomination and co-ownership of Miami’s “Good Guy” award, given out by the Pro Football Writers Association for a player that best helps the media do its job. Apparently he just got better a faking it in front of the camera.
The only thing that is really in question is how much the team knew about it. The truth about Incognito didn’t really come up until a lunchroom incident caused Martin to up and leave the team. Theoretically the bullying of Martin might have not of come to light until now. Martin might have been too afraid to talk to coaches and other team leaders about the verbal and emotional abuse.
This seems much more unlikely after the Dolphins responded to media about the situation. Wide receiver Mike Wallace said that nothing about the atmosphere with the team seemed out of the ordinary. Coach Joe Philbin said that he would take full responsibility if there were any problems. No one in the Dolphins organization addressed the voicemail that was already made public.
From the early reports, there are also laundry lists of texts from Incognito to Martin that haven’t been released to the public yet. When all is said in done, Incognito will have a hard time getting on another team, no matter what way he shows that he becomes reformed.
It’s the rest of the Dolphins team that won’t be sure about their future, including Coach Philbin and General Manager Jeff Ireland. Their answers on Monday were less than satisfactory. If the evidence proves that the bullying and harassment was more public, don’t expect the Dolphins front office to look as familiar next season.
Contact Mac Moore, sports editor, at email@example.com.