It's not looking good for Incognito.
First, some background for those of you who may not follow football:
Last year, Miami Dolphin's tackle Jonathan Martin left the team, later claiming that he faced bullying and other indignities from his teammates on and off the field.
Richie Incognito was, according to Martin, the "ringleader," for lack of a better word, of the bullying.
Surprising no one, Incognito claimed that the accusations were false, and although he did call Martin the N word, to judge [him] by that one word is wrong.
“It sounds like I’m a racist pig. It sounds like I’m a meathead. It sounds a lot of things that it’s not. And I wanted to clear the air just by saying I’m a good person,” Incognito said. “I’m embarrassed by my actions, but what I want people to know is the way Jonathan and the rest of the offensive line, and our teammates, how we communicate, it’s vulgar. . . . People don’t know how Jon and I communicate to one another.”For what seems like the longest time, the only thing the public has had to go on is the he said/he said version of the story. Predictably, most football fans took a strong position on the case either for or against Martin. Even Brett Favre chimed in to offer such eloquent words as "“You have to be kidding me[...]Pro football? Bullying? It’s the toughest sport, most violent. Not to mention you’re men. So it’s not like it’s a little 12-year-old on a playground."
Incognito noted that many of his teammates, white and black, have said they support him.
“If I was a racist and I was bullying Jon Martin, when the press went in there and asked questions, that locker room would have said, ‘Listen, we saw this, we saw that.’ I’m proud of my guys for having my back and telling the truth,” Incognito said.
So the Dolphins said they were going to investigate and NFL fans expected nothing to come of it.
There was frustratingly little to go on for a long time, until the text messages between the two men were released.
Most sports reporters guffawed at the texts, opining that it seemed like a normal relationship between two NFL players and if this is the bombshell, there was no there there.
I read all the texts and disagreed.
U down for t's
Nah I'm grossed out by prostitutes
Haha! U cunt
They're strippers who go the extra mile
That's an interesting way to put it, but
loose vaginas that get pounded by
multiple cocks everyday don't do it for me
They don't get pounded all day. How
many people do you know willing to drop
$700. We're dumb enough to spend it.
Not everybody get the VIP treatment.
I can hear the wheels spinning in ur head
You might be right
Haha shut up
It's good 4 u
Nah all I can picture is the std slide show...
That shit scarred me
1/6/2013 1:30Well, others may see it differently, and others will certainly claim I took these out of context, but as I read ALL texts between Martin and Incognito, I couldn't help but detect homophobic and racist comments, and less than subtle threats in Martin's direction.
Don't blame ur gay tendancies on [
I'm gonna get more bitches in 2 nights
than all of you combined
Stop it. By bitches u mean cocks in ur
U fucking mulatto liberal bitch
I'm going to shit in ur eye
Tell ur squirting sister I said hi
Ah yes I missed being demeaned by you
boys lol... Can't wait for this weekend
Still, NFL fans have by and large claimed that we didn't know the full story.
Well, now we know the (PDF warning) whole story, and it's not pretty.
(I believe I'm within fair use rights by quoting the below excerpts from the 148 page report, but if I am mistaken please let me know.)
Here is the story as the independent investigator saw it:
Jonathan Martin is a professional football player who began the 2013 season as the starting left tackle for the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League. On Monday, October 28, 2013, midway through the season, Martin abruptly walked out of the Dolphins’ practice facility and checked himself into a nearby hospital, requestingThe startling thing about the report is that Incognito does not deny any of the allegations, but rather sees them as harmless fun and just part of the locker room. And there were other victims of the bullying, including "Player A" who was constantly subjected to homophobic taunts, although Incognito and others did not believe he was gay. There was also a personal trainer of Japanese descent that faced daily taunts about his heritage. Again, Incognito does not deny any of these allegations but downplays them as though there was never any harm intended.
As an initial matter, Martin developed an odd but seemingly close friendship with Incognito. Not only did both linemen report that they enjoyed socializing together, the
evidence also shows that they often communicated in a vulgar manner. Incognito contends that the conduct about which Martin complains was part of locker
room banter meant in good fun and that Martin was a willing and active participant in verbal sparring, never letting on that he was hurt by it. Martin claims that at times he participated in off color joking with Incognito and others in an attempt to fit in, with the hope of reducing the treatment he found offensive.
According to our consulting expert, a psychologist who focuses on matters of workplace conduct, such a reaction is consistent with the behavior of a victim of abusive treatment.
The report continues:
We also find the treatment of the Assistant Trainer particularly troubling because he was not a fellow football player but a subordinate, a member of the training staff. In our view, it is likely that the Assistant Trainer felt that he had no standing or ability to fight back, and feared the loss of his job if he protested and the players did not take kindly to his complaints. Again, as with Player A, we view the treatment of the Assistant Trainer as part of a pattern of abusive, unprofessional behavior.Again, the report is 148 pages, each one detailing instances of bullying and abuse, and contemporaneous texts between Martin and his parents that corroborate his story that the bullying was going too far and causing him great distress. The final straw came on October 28, 2013:
Although media reports have focused only on Martin’s response to a juvenile cafeteria prank (in which his teammates all got up from a table at dinner as he approached) , Martin told us that he had been mocked throughout the day before he left, including with racially derogatory language, and that these taunts, in addition to the cafeteria prank, caused him to boil over.Reading the entire report, I'm struck by how out of control the Dolphin's offensive linemen were and that there were no protocols in place to stop their taunts. Numerous NFL coaches and players, including Jim Harbaugh (current San Francisco 49er's coach and previously head coach at Stanford, where Martin played during college) confirmed that while locker rooms can be and often are filled with vulgar language and taunts, what Martin experienced in Miami went far beyond that.
He claimed that in a meeting room early in the day, he heard taunts from Incognito that included “stinky Pakistani,” which made him “almost fed up.” Later, when Martin arrived in the cafeteria for dinner around 6 pm, most of the offensive linemen, including Incognito, were already sitting together at a table. The evidence shows that while Martin was waiting in line for food, Incognito called out to him from the table, saying that Martin was a “stinky Pakistani” who should not join the group.
According to Martin, a fellow player standing near him in line overheard the comment and said “get them off your back.” Martin said that this episode further demonstrated to him that his teammates witnessed how he was routinely demeaned by the rest of the offensive line and observed that he was not standing up for himself, and he promised himself that if the linemen did one more thing, he would leave. Moments later, at Incognito’s urging, all of the linemen sitting at the table got up and walked away when Martin arrived.
For Martin, the cafeteria incident was the last straw. He slammed his tray of food on the floor and left the Dolphins facility. By Martin’s account, that decision was a reaction to all of the harassment he had endured since 2012, and the immediate catalyst for his departure was not just the prank reported in the press, but also the racially charged taunts —“stinky Pakistani”— that he had heard that day.
Incognito admits that he called Martin a “stinky Pakistani”or something similar on October 28 in the cafeteria, in front of other players.
What comes next is anyone's guess.
Martin wants to return to the field, and he's certainly a skilled offensive lineman who could easily return and complete his NFL career on a better note. The Dolphins still control his rights in the NFL, and he and his agent will be meeting with the Dolphins to discuss returning to the team.
Richie Incognito has been mostly silent since the report was released, first defending himself on Twitter, then deleting his account after being unable to stop the attacks.
He has been suspended indefinitely from the Dolphins and, as far as I know, no further news on his future career has been announced.
Sports writers are, unsurprisingly, on fire right now as they read and report on the independent report. (It truly is worth reading the whole thing if you have the time and are so inclined.) One may read the condemnations (and the recent coming out story of Michael Sam, a top draft prospect) and have a sense of optimism about the future of the NFL.
And meanwhile, we wait for a similar independent report about Minnesota Viking's former punter Chris Kluwe's allegations that he was released from the team because of his LGBT equality activism.
Is the tide finally changing in the NFL? I'm not so sure, but the across-the-board condemnation of the racist and homophobic taunts that Incognito subjected others to, and the swift turn from speaking of Jonathan Martin as weak and unable to handle locker room culture to the consensus that he was unfairly and grossly victimized, I wonder if this isn't a small tide that becomes an eventual sea change in the NFL.
Hey, a girl can hope.