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Richie Incognito: Bully or Victim?

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On October 30, Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Jonathan Martin stormed out of the Dolphins’ training facility after what was described to the media as an “emotional breakdown.”

By November 4, Martin had hired lawyers along with the help of his parents and released accusations claiming that he had been bullied in the locker room by teammates. Specifically, Martin’s camp targeted Richie Incognito, a fellow Dolphins offensive lineman that has a history of misconduct in the NFL, for harassing Martin on a personal level.

Richie Incognito has always been one to embrace his reputation as a dirty player, but when reports surfaced that Incognito had left multiple vulgar and threatening voicemails on Martin’s phone the public was disgusted. Martin’s camp released transcripts of those voicemails which included racial epithets and threats of violence towards both Martin and his mother.

Within a week Richie Incognito has been labeled as a disgusting rapist and the public had judged him as such.

On November 6, things became confusing when the Dolphins as a team publicly defended Incognito at a press conference. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill even went as far to say, “If you asked Jonathan Martin who his best friend is on this team two weeks ago, he’d say Richie Incognito.”

Dolphins Tackle Tyson Clabo stated, “What’s perceived is that Richie is this psychopath racist, and the reality is Richie was a pretty good teammate.” Clabo continued to question Martin. “I don’t know why (Martin is) doing this. And the only person who knows why is Jonathan Martin.” Wide receiver Brian Hartline told the media that, at one point, Jonathan Martin had even laughed at the voicemail himself.

The media circus had officially begun, as a clear divide had been established between the team and Martin. Martin’s camp responded by stating the locker room behavior had escalated past traditional hazing, and had even turned into physical attacks. The team’s players have since held their ground in supporting Incognito.

It wasn’t long before players around the league began to speak out. Giants safety Antrel Rolle said that “Jonathan Martin is a 6’5 320 pound dude. I think he should be able to stand up for himself.”

The world of football was torn on the issue. Some felt that Martin was justified in his actions and that Incognito’s use of the “N” word was out of line, while others believe the two were friends before the incident, and that Martin is using this as a scapegoat due to the recent struggles of the Dolphins as a team. It might be no coincidence the Dolphins had dropped four games straight, after starting the season 3-0, right when Martin began his warpath with the Dolphins.

Many have criticized Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin for not having control of the locker room situation and allowing Martin so much time to act without reaching out to the player. Philbin has been mostly mute on the issue.

The only member of Dolphins brass that has been verbal about the situation is Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. Ross offered public support of Martin and has since met with Martin to discuss the situation.

The Dolphins have since suspended Incognito without pay indefinitely until NFL appointed investigator Ted Wells finishes his investigation. The Dolphins are not expected to make any more moves regarding the matter for a while as more information begins to surface.

Whatever the opinion you have, one thing known for sure is the relationship between Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito was not mutual. Incognito had always thought they were good friends, but Martin apparently did not feel the same way. Journalists cannot help but to speculate whether this situation could have been addressed behind closed doors between the two players and the coach, rather than creating a national headline. These are, after all, two grown men and player testimony clearly sheds new light on the situation.

An eye opening conversation would have probably been more effective rather than a lawsuit.

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Richie Incognito: Bully or Victim?