These days, news moves so fast that a reporter needs to revisit a story multiple times before it's all said and done. The recent situation surrounding the Miami Dolphins and the manner in which it is dealing with allegations against former O-lineman Richie Incognito, for what is being described as everything from hazing, to bullying, to flat out racism, the details change on a daily basis. As the circumstances surrounding the events grow exponentially, so to does the ebb and flow of public opinion rise and fall like the tide does during lunar cycles. The pool of which gets deeper by the day. So, we've decided to to cull some choice quotes from some of those involved, some who are in the know, and some who think they are in the know. Is Incognito a racist bully? Is Martin Pillsbury Doughboy soft? Here's what those involved had to say about the matter. We will start with the Richie Incognito text that started this firestorm.
"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."
After the initial media backlash many players, both current and former, flocked to the defense of Incognito and excused his actions — saying they were intended to motivate Martin, who is being labeled as somewhat lazy and soft in practice. Miami Dolphin's wide receiver Brian Hartline had an opinion on the situation as well.
"One, if I'm not mistaken, this was the same guy who was laughing about the voicemail at one point in time," Hartline said. "Second of all, if you go through the whole voicemail there are some things said that you probably shouldn't say in general, friends or not friends. But with that being said I never thought it was a death threat. I never thought he was going to do the things he said. If you can't take validity from one part of the voicemail how can you take validity from the whole — you can't pick and choose which parts count and which parts don't. In my mind I think it was something that was taken advantage of. I just remember I thought [the voicemail] was being passed around as a joke," Hartline said.
NFL fans can certainly remember the dread-locked, blunt-burning running back that was Ricky Williams, who suited up several times for the Dolphins from 2002 through 2010. Here's what he had to say regarding the situation during an interview on KGMZ-FM San Francisco. “How is bullying something that’s even mentioned regarding the NFL?” Williams asked.
“Because that’s kind of what we’re taught to do — at least on the field — is to bully the guy across from us so we can win the football game. What we’re required to do physically, mentally and emotionally for the course of a season is astronomical — it’s amazing,” Williams said. “And I’m not saying that it’s bad. I’m saying it just really speaks to what it takes to be a professional football player. And to me there’s no room to play the victim or to be bullied or to even have that discussion when it comes to the NFL. If you’re having that discussion, it just means that maybe you don’t belong in the NFL.”
“The way he got himself out of the situation. I actually think it’s quite brilliant," he continued. "There’s all these text messages and these voice messages,” Williams said. “It takes some awareness and some planning and some orchestration to actually save those and record those. … (Martin) is fighting (Incognito), but he’s just doing it in his own way. If we’re going to talk about the story as a hazing story — which doesn’t fit — or as a bullying story, it’s really a great example of the kid that is ‘getting bullied’ fighting back in his own way. … I think they’re both victims. I think the truth is never going to come out. One guy has a paid vacation. And one guy has a vacation that’s not paid right now.”
Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated recently wrote a story in which he quoted two unnamed NFL sources that disparaged the manhood of Jonathan Martin, which seems to be a popular theme these days.
“I think Jonathan Martin is a weak person,” said one personnel man, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “If Incognito did offend him racially, that’s something you have to handle as a man! Mike Pouncey was a rookie at one point while Incognito was there and you never heard any complaints from him. There’s no other way to put it, other than him being soft!”
Said another: “Guys are going to be guys, if you know what I mean. I’m sure there are some instances of ‘taking things too far,’ but that happens everywhere. You handle it in house — fight, handle it on the field, joke about it, etc — and keep it moving.”
Those statements are indicative of what appears to be a disconnect from reality exhibited by someof the players commenting on these circumstances. Everything in life cannot be handled by simply punching a person in the mouth. In fact, situations are complicated by violence more often than not. In this scenario, it appears Martin would have had to fight half the team.
ESPN initially reported that the National Football League Player Association was investigating Incognito for harassing Martin, but it has since been revealed that they are not.
Incognito tweeted in response: “Shame on you for attaching my name to false speculation. I won’t be holding my breathe for an apology.” He then tagged ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Twitter and wrote: “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.”
Though many reports state that Martin's unfortunate situation was at the behest of some in the coaching staff, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe told ESPN it was all news to him. "I never heard anything about it until now," said the Ellerbe, who was a member of Miami's six-player leadership council along with Incognito. Ellerbe also indicated that Martin should have informed the leadership council of his problems. "We don't have no problem with [coming forward]," Ellerbe said. "We would try to handle it the best way possible. We would rather that [happen] than this."
But despite how Ellerbe might feel, "this" is what is happening. The following is a statement released by the Miami Dolphins in the days following Martin's departure from the team.
“The Miami Dolphins, including Coach Joe Philbin and Jonathan’s teammates, have been in communication with Jonathan and his family since his departure from the club and continue to be in contact. Our primary concern for Jonathan is his overall health and well-being. As an organization, we take any accusations of player misconduct seriously. The notion of bullying is based on speculation and has not been presented to us as a concern from Jonathan or anyone else internally. The reports that the NFLPA is investigating our players are inaccurate. Additionally, the NFL offered its assistance during this time, which we appreciated and gladly accepted. We will continue to make Jonathan’s health and well-being a focus as we do with all of our players.”
Most in the Dolphins organization seems to be siding with Richie Incognito, saying the situation is being blown out of proportion. However, ESPN analyst Desmond Howard knows a thing or two about an NFL locker room, being a Heisman Trophy winner and a Super Bowl MVP. He's not buying any of the fluff. "That's not hazing, that was harassment, that was bullying. Jonathan Martin comes from a different background, and people that are different get singled out. What Richie Incognito did is nothing short of harassment. I've been on many NFL teams, I've been in many locker rooms. I've never seen that happen in the NFL."
Here's what he had to say about the whole "honorary" black man using the N-word scenario. "The African American players aware that the white players were using this word should be ashamed of themselves. What level of coonery is going on in the Miami Dolphins locker room that they would say that? It makes absolutely no sense."
On Thursday powerful sports attorney David Cornwell released a statement highlighting Martin's gripe against the Dolphins, including a extremely disrespectful text about his sister.
"Jonathan Martin’s toughness is not at issue. Jonathan has started every game with the Miami Dolphins since he was drafted in 2012. At Stanford, he was the anchor for Jim Harbaugh’s “smash mouth” brand of football and he protected Andrew Luck’s blind side. The issue is Jonathan’s treatment by his teammates. Jonathan endured harassment that went far beyond the traditional locker room hazing. For the entire season-and-a-half that he was with the Dolphins, he attempted to befriend the same teammates who subjected him to the abuse with the hope that doing so would end the harassment. This is a textbook reaction of victims of bullying. Despite these efforts, the taunting continued. Beyond the well-publicized voice mail with its racial epithet, Jonathan endured a malicious physical attack on him by a teammate, and daily vulgar comments such as the quote at the bottom. These facts are not in dispute. Eventually, Jonathan made a difficult choice. Despite his love for football, Jonathan left the Dolphins. Jonathan looks forward to getting back to playing football. In the meantime, he will cooperate fully with the NFL investigation. Quote from teammate: “We are going to run train on your sister. . . . She loves me. I am going to f–k her without a condom and c– in her c—.”
Still sound like harmless locker room fun to you? While the total truth of the matter may never completely come to light, the cult of personality that seems to rule in some NFL locker rooms will now do battle against society's idea of civility and restraint. There will certainly be more quotes and sound bytes that will surface to support both sides, but we must be ever vigilant in jumping to conclusions in a case of He said versus He said versus the truth.