Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito is suspended after harassing fellow teammate Johnathan Martin
To be a professional athlete, you do not only need the skills to compete at a high level, but also the wherewithal to deal with emotion and, sometimes for young players, hazing.
As an offensive lineman, National Football League (NFL) coaches look for the meanest, toughest and grittiest players. Suspended Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito fit that mold. According to the NFL, he was at one point called the dirtiest player in the NFL by opponents and teammates.
While many coaches would love to have this mindset in an offensive line, there is a line that cannot be pushed. Incognito crossed that line with teammate and co-offensive lineman Jonathan Martin.
“He came on the team, and he kind of tests people,” former teammate Channing Crowder said to cnn.com. “He tries to test you to see if you have enough manhood, if you have enough testosterone.”
Incognito has had a troubled past that dated back to college. According to espn.com, in 2003 he was kicked off of the Nebraska team for violating team rules. The next year, he was dismissed from the Oregon Ducks football team for not meeting the coach’s standards. When he got into the NFL, things did not change. Incognito entered into shouting matches with coaches and opponents.
According to espn.com, before the incidents with Martin, he was investigated by the Dolphins for sexual assault on a female volunteer during a team golfing tournament in 2012.
But the Dolphins kept it under wraps until now.
Reports from Head Coach Joe Philbin say that Incognito was told to “toughen up” Martin. Because of this, he would get on him about certain things, crack jokes about him in the locker room and pull pranks. Martin endured it all, taking his lumps like any rookie or young player would. Then he received voice mails and text messages from Incognito that were filled with harsh words, racial bigotry, and ended with “I will kill you.”
In a recent interview with foxsports.com, Incognito said there was one point when Martin had texted him making threats to his family.
“When words are put in a context, I understand why a lot of eyebrows get raised,” Incognito said to Fox Sports. “But people don’t know how Jon and I communicate.”
But this was supposed to be in a joking tone?
According to Dolphins center Mike Pouncey, what finally sent Martin over the edge was a classic cafeteria prank seen in movies. When the “cool kids” move to another table as the “oddball” sits down, leaving them to sulk.
Since Oct. 30, Martin has left the Dolphins for emotional reasons and checked himself into the hospital for emotional distress. He has made comments that he looks forward to getting back to playing football once the issue is resolved.
When it comes to hazing or toughening up a person, it is done in a commanding way ending with love for the other person.
Many would say Martin needs to become tougher. I agree, given his track record from his rookie season last year, he struggled. In the preseason, the Stanford alum racked up a lot of penalties, including being fined $10,000 for illegal clipping.
From any perspective, you stand up for yourself and tell that person, “Hey, that went too far.” But Martin did not. He did not say a word to coaches or other players, and many on the Dolphins even considered Incognito and Martin to be friends.
“Does he like to give guys a hard time, yes,” Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill said in an interview with NFL.com. “… If you asked Johnathan Martin about any type of tussle, (Incognito) was the first guy there. When they were outside of football, who was together? Richie and Jon.”
Like Tannehill, many teammates came to the aid of Incognito, saying he has always been there for Martin. Many said his comments were not that brash and gave him the ok to use words of racial content.
Although Martin said he looks forward to playing football with the Dolphins, he may want to ask for a release or trade. He has lost respect in that locker room.