Last night the Miami Dolphins opted to suspend indefinitely OG Richie Incognito for conduct detrimental to the team. They do this before the NFL launches an investigation that was requested by the team. Incognito’s suspension brings serious doubts to his “Twitter” rampage demanding his name cleared. Making matters worse? Incognito is a member of this years “leadership council”. Say “Whaat!”
The problem is Incognito is not the victim here. Jonathan Martin is and while the media, including CBS morning show are talking more about the “hazing” issues and Incognito rather than what has happened with Martin.
Originally Martin was called out by fans and by media for leaving the team. Some saying he couldn’t take it, some saying he was soft, other saying he had a mental issue. Then word began to leak of harassment and suddenly it was “NFL locker room” stuff and again, Martin couldn’t handle it.
Even now the focus is on Incognito and what other players may be involved instead of what this may have done to Martin.
Consider Martin’s play on the field. How far did the harassing go? Did it extend to the field? What about before the game. Did the harassment in the locker room at the training facility keep Martin from focusing on his job? The short answer would most likely be yes.
A stressful work place makes it hard to concentrate and for Martin the stress of spending all day hours upon hours with the very men causing him a personal hell would make any player not want to be there. In fact it would make it almost impossible to mentally process the game plan.
So far it has shown. Early in the season Martin struggled with both run and pass protection and there was no question that he and Incognito seemed disconnected often taking the wrong man. Could this have been a result of the harassment? It’s hard to say but you have to wonder if Martin’s regression is related to lining up next to a player who spends too much time in Martin’s face.
The next question of culpability is coaching. Jim Turner is the Oline coach and we have all seen from HBO’s Hard Knocks that he is brash, in your face, and a coach ready to roll with the locker room antics. At one point during the season he was seen telling a young Pop-Warner football player that the cheerleaders were totally checking him out. He was later seen talking about “desks rising” after the team watched a cheerleader video.
Did he know about the harassment going on within his own unit? If so he apparently did nothing to stop it and if he didn’t then he doesn’t have the trust of his players to come to him with such a problem. The next question is did he bother to go to Joe Philbin if in fact he did know? If he did the problem is much deeper and if he didn’t and knew then he should be fired.
This will likely come out in the weeks ahead but you still have to wonder when or even if Martin can return to a team that has become a side show the last two weeks. A poster child of NFL hazing rituals and rookie abuse.
Martin needs to get his mind right and whether he returns to the team or not is a matter of choice but the Dolphins need to make him feel as though he can and the suspension of Incognito may be the first step but it may not be enough.