*This column was originally posted in The Inkwell and on its website.
There is bullying, hazing, being a jerk, and flat out bad teammates. Then, there’s Richie Incognito, guard for the Miami Dolphins who is at the heart of a situation where his teammate and second-year offensive tackle Jonathan Martin has left the team.
Martin left the Dolphins last week after a cafeteria incident that put him into a “mental breakdown.” Right now, it is unknown when he will return to the team.
Soon after the incident, Incognito’s name was brought up as a possible main reason for Martin leaving the team. One significant allegation being reviewed by the NFL is Incognito making Martin pay $15,000 for a Vegas trip that a group of Dolphins players took last summer, even though Martin did not attend the trip. Instead of arguing, Martin paid the money, because he feared the consequences from Incognito if he did not pay.
Incognito took to Twitter saying he wants his “name cleared” and reports were “false speculation.” He specifically went after ESPN’s Adam Schefter, tweeting: @AdamSchefter Enough is enough. If you or any of the agents you sound off for have a problem with me, you know where to find me #BRINGIT. Wow, the tribal-tattooed (for pure “badass” intimidation), 6’3”, 319-pounder sure is a tough guy.
On Monday, Schefter won the Twitter war and brought it to Incognito, showing what a complete idiot he really is. Transcripts of text messages and voicemails left for Martin by Incognito show a pattern of violence, racial slurs and profane language. The following is a transcript of a voice message the white Incognito left the black Martin, in April a year after he 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.”
The language and wordage is downright disturbing. The fact that Incognito is Martin’s teammate is beyond belief. Sources have confirmed that this voice message was not an isolated incident and that these racial slurs and violence have come up in numerous texts and calls. According to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, “There are several instances of threats as well, the sources said, and overall disturbing exchanges, including one in which Incognito refers to defecating in Martin’s mouth. Incognito also made reference to tracking down members of Martin’s family and harming them in the texts as well, according to a source.”
Incognito was suspended indefinitely by the Dolphins on Sunday night, a day before the message became public, for conduct detrimental to the team.
Now, here’s the irony: Incognito is part of Miami’s six-player leadership council and before each Dolphins home game a public service announcement is played to try to show the “fan code of conduct,” where Incognito is dressed in fancy croquet clothes, and calls himself “quite civilized off the field.” The fan code of conduct includes no foul language or personal threats, so clearly Incognito is “quite classy” and one hell of a choice to represent the team.
If you have been following Incognito’s past at all, he would be your first suspect to be at the heart of this type of crisis. Let’s take a look at his past, dating back to his troubles in college:
Spring 2003: Suspended by Nebraska coach Frank Solich (reinstated prior to season). June 2004: Convicted of misdemeanor assault charge stemming from incident at a party in February. Sept. 2004: Suspended indefinitely by Nebraska coach Bill Callahan for repeated violations of team rules. Oct. 2004: Dismissed from Oregon football program only a week after transferring to school in September. 2009 season: Voted NFL’s “dirtiest player” in poll of NFL players by Sporting News. Dec. 2009: Released by Rams two days after being penalized twice for personal fouls and arguing with coach Steve Spagnuolo during game against Titans. Dec. 2011: Raiders DT Richard Seymour fined $30,000 for punching Incognito during a game. Aug. 2013: Texans DE Antonio Smith suspended for Week 1 for swinging helmet at Incognito during game.
When a threat and racial slurs happen the same year that Riley Cooper was caught for angry racial slurs at a concert and Aaron Hernandez is in a murder trial, the NFL has to take this very seriously. The NFL will have to look deeper into hazing and the treatment of rookies and teammates in general. For the time being and the future, Richie Incognito does not deserve to be on any NFL roster or a part of football.