There's only one way for this Miami Dolphins' harassment scandal to end, and it won't be pretty.
Both general manager Jeff Ireland and coach Joe Philbin must go.
It's not harsh, it's the reality of this mess called life in the National Football League.
When you're responsible for selecting players and coaching them, you are responsible for all the actions that take place in your organization.
If you win and things go great, you'll get all the credit, all the praise for running a tight ship and putting players in the best possible position to succeed. If not, you get the blame. It's simple.
This whole mess – allegations of hazing and bullying, mixed in with racial implications – is bigger than just Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito not getting along and having a misunderstanding.
It's much bigger than that.
That's why neither player is with the team. Martin left to seek help. Incognito has been suspended indefinitely. It's the reason the NFL hired an independent investigator to look into this matter. It's the reason other players have come out about it. Heck, it's the reason the NBA rolled out its policy a few days ago on this type of behavior to remind players these antics won't be tolerated.
On Sunday, Incognito had a sit-down interview with Fox Sports and talked about the situation at length for the very first time.
It was mostly what you expected. Despite a checkered past dating back to college, Incognito played the innocent, unknowing victim. Instead of taking responsibility, Incognito conveniently opted for the easy way out. He supposedly had no idea he was hurting Martin with his actions. Worse, Incognito blamed the culture on the NFL and its locker room.
Apparently, playing in the NFL – even though most of the players have either gone to college or graduated – makes you abuse someone verbally and use the N-word. At least, that's what Incognito would have you believe, a pretty weak excuse for someone caught red-handed on tape. The voicemail Incognito left Martin is chilling. Incognito calls Martin a half N-word and talks about slapping his mother.
It's almost crazy how comfortable, Incognito, who is white, is leaving such a racist message on a black teammate's phone. It's a clear look inside to what Martin must have endured.
Incognito claimed that he had Martin's back, they are buds.
Sorry, can't buy it.
Making a rookie carry bags, pick up dirty socks or buy donuts for the team seems more like it.
That's what's Martin, a second-year lineman from Stanford, went through.
Martin didn't run home to mom and dad after Day 1. He stuck it out until his second year when he finally cracked, couldn't take it anymore.
And those Dolphin teammates who have publicly back Incognito? It tells you why this team has been losers the last decade or so.
It shouldn't be a shock. They have to do something to take the pressure of themselves, let people know they didn't turn their back and allow this to happen. Somehow, black men in that locker room allowed Incognito to walk around and do and say stuff to another black man and do nothing.
We've seen it before. Black players backed former Indiana coach Bobby Knight despite the abuse he dished out to kids. Knight once even when brought a whip to practice and thought it was no biggie.
In the Martin situation, there's the idea that maybe coaches pushed Incognito in this direction in a way to toughen up Martin, a theory all but confirmed when Incognito ducked questions about the involvement of his superiors in his interview.
That's why this all goes back to Ireland and Philbin. It's their jobs to know what's going on in their building. And when they don't, shame on them. It's a responsibility that comes with the gig. It's why Hall of Famer and former Dolphins coach Don Shula put most of the blame on the organization for picking up Incognito, who had issues in St. Louis when he played there.
"You win with good people on and off the field," Shula said to the Miami Herald last week. "They took a chance on a guy with a bad reputation and it backfired on them."
Shula, who won two Super Bowls with the Dolphins, said the franchise has work to do. And not just winning football games. "Just to get back that credibility," Shula said.
Ireland and Philbin have none. That's why they can't survive.