Jul 22, 2013; Davie, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito (68) during training camp at the Doctors Hospital Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Unacceptable: The Impact of Incognito


He had to go. Absolutely had to. Richie Incognito has always been known for his unbecoming personal conduct. In his years with the Rams he received multiple fines and warnings from the NFL and was widely regarded as one of the leagues’ dirtiest players. Incognito seemed to turn a corner when he signed with the Dolphins, and was even conferred “The Good Guy” award in 2012 by the South Florida Chapter of the Pro Football Writers Association. However, only now have the true details of his character emerged.

The media’s use of the word ‘bullying’ to characterize Incognito’s conduct has, in many ways, undermined the sad and shocking truth of the matter. Many people over the past week have suggested that Jonathan Martin is in some way a wimp and just couldn’t handle “an NFL Locker Room”. Others further contend that Incognito was just giving the guy a hard time in jest. Wrong. Just plain wrong. This wasn’t a playground bullying or garden-variety rookie hazing. It is alleged Martin was the target of repeated discrimination and harassment, the likes of which no one should have to endure in their place of work.

Regardless of how fans and the media paint professional sports teams, they are ultimately workplaces. That many perceive them differently doesn’t change the bottom line. Each NFL team is a business, like the one you work for, composed of thousands of employees and operating on a for-profit basis. Now imagine that at your office someone harassed you everyday, sent you threatening and racially hateful messages and coerced you to give away your hard-earned salary. Is this something that you would stand for? The answer should be a resounding No.
These are among the alleged details of the harassment to which Richie Incognito subjected Jonathon Martin. No one, in any workplace, should have to go to work afraid that they will be continually attacked and harmed in this manner. The fact that Martin endured this treatment for over a year is horrifying and completely unacceptable.

The Dolphins have so far reacted in the right way, suspending Incognito and encouraging a probe by the NFL. However, the evidence of continued and repeated conduct in this manner over the course of two years raises several questions. How was it that the Dolphin’s leadership allowed this to continue for such a long time? Were they unaware? Why was it that Jonathon Martin had to leave the team before anything was done? Did he bring his problems to Joe Philbin or Jeff Ireland? If so, how did they respond?

Over the course of the next few weeks I imagine we will discover the answers to all of these questions and far more than we would ever want. Will these answers pose problems to the organization and even the NFL? Quite possibly as I find it highly unlikely that not one of the Dolphins higher-ups had any idea what was going on. On a broader note however, Incognito’s actions absolutely bring up necessary questions about the work conditions of NFL Locker Rooms and the role of coaches and managers in monitoring them; an issue which has yet to be fully explored by the league and media alike. For now, Dolphins fans will have to endure the knowledge that the team has lost one of the better guards in the league and a starting tackle to an incident, which reflects very poorly on both the organization, and the NFL.

Hope you enjoyed the read and as always, feel free to reach out to me on twitter @thecuffester or instagram @cuffeap

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Tags: Featured Popular Harassment Jonathan Martin Miami Dolphins News NFL Richie Incognito

  • PhinFan

    This article is like Jonathan Martin… wimpy. You presented us with no facts or real examples of what he did. You just said he did stuff. Why are all of Richie’s teammates supporting him? Even the african American ones? Why are they saying nothing he did was out of the ordinary? Your article is worthless and lacking all the necessary content to make it of any value.

  • PhinFan

    You sound like a sleezy lawyer BSing his way through a trial in which he has no chance of winning.

    • corners

      maybe this is some crappy attempt at a school paper

  • Phins Up

    The truth is noone actually knows exactly what happened….yet. This is a commentary not a fact finding mission. However, all signs point to the fact that Incognito behaved in an unprofessional and possibly illegal manner. The NFL is a business with employees and noone should be made to feel uncomfortable in their workplace. This article articulated that point in an effective manner

  • tpl

    The sad part is it appears a lot of the dolphin players knew about the voicemail martin got, and did NOTHING! Plus Incognito reportedly took Tannehills credit card and bought a jet ski. I think this is now a matter for the authorities to determine what crimes were committed and what to prosecute.

  • MGD

    This is why this OL have not been able to protect their leader/QB all year. They don’t have each other’s back, there’s no unity, no teamwork, no brotherhood, no respect. One goal, one team, one line!

  • Jcartwright67

    Unacceptable is correct. We ALL form opinions and prejudice in our minds based upon biases we have developed over time and in the absence of proof and facts we will fill the gaps with said bias to support our conceived notions about someone or something. The media and NFL analysts are masters at this. I don’t know if Cog CHASTIZED beyond the norm established in Miami’s locker-room resulting in a bullying environment, I don’t know if Cog or Martin is racist, I don’t know how Cog or Martin resolve conflict in their lives, and I don’t know if any party has ulterior motives. This I know as fact; the NFL locker-room is not a “normal” workplace and not subject to its laws and procedures(this has been established in previous cases). The Golden Rule: Everything, and I do mean Everything, boils down to the almighty dollar. Attorneys don’t get involved unless the transfer of money is intended to flow their clients way. The Martin’s have filed a legal grievance with the NFL complete with attorneys. I do not know their motive….please consider the “Golden Rule”.

    • Jcartwright67

      Just something to think about before you make decisions about someone else’s thoughts or words and consider the context in which they were presented. Cog referenced the “N” word; not wise on any level. People now conclude he’s racist. He also referenced a sexual act involving Martin’s mouth. Is Cog homosexual? Is Martin homosexual? He referenced a violent physical act with Martin’s mother. Is Cog known for beating women? Does Martin’s mother have due cause to fear real and apparent physical harm from Cog? Has a restraining order been filed? Will gay activist groups stand up for either Cog or Martin? OK, now I’m getting carried away!!!

  • Chris

    “Is this something that you would stand for?”
    Hell no! But guess what? I wouldn’t go to HR and tattle. I would handle the problem like a man. I’d imagine you need to be a very tough SOB to play offensive line in the NFL. Martin is an adult and should be able to deal with the situation as such. Life is too short to be cowering from one man the whole time. Stick up for yourself, bro!

  • Ike Romero

    Just remember that nobody should have to go through life feeling like they have to defend themselves. If it was your kid or family member would you think differently? Nothing justifies this not even the muscle headed people that believe that this is the norm. I would like to push you around, take your money and have everybody buy in in that.

  • tpl

    Another allegation is that the coaching staff asked Incognito to “toughen up” Martin. If true, this is a scary development. That any coach should be so clueless as to tell another player to do that. And to those who say this is a part of NFL locker rooms, no it isn’t. Many NFL coaches have banned hazing, Bill Walsh among them.

  • Miami Jules (Julian)

    I enjoyed reading your article Alex and I read it keeping in mind the date in which you wrote it. I agree with it on some points and disagree on others. The average work place (may be excluding a construction site which I have also been a part of) is overwhelmed with political correctness to the point of dysfunction. I was in a situation once where I was placing an order for a phone attendant for my accounting department, and as I described the qualities I needed I included a sweet and pleasant voice among sought qualities… that, I was shocked to learn is faux pas. Should society bring that logic into an NFL locker room, it will make it dysfunctional while still failing to address what might’ve happened here.
    Consider that I am writing this comment days after you wrote your article so I have updated information which places me at an advantage, so I need to keep that in mind as I expand further. To me, as I now understand it, Incognito despite his personality, might have just been himself and meant nothing by his actions. It looks like now that either some of the coaches and some players may have picked on Martin. My problem is why they picked on him. Martin was NOT the weakest link nor gave up the most sacks. How could he (Martin) have addressed these issues with his team mates if they were the ones singling him out ? That would be like asking a lamb to address the wolf pack on their dinner selection for the evening. Why did his team mates not target Clabo, who basically was a human turnstile instead? Was Martin targeted because he says “please” and “thank you” and not because of his play? That’s the problem I have, and that isn’t hazing or initiation, that just plain stupid and that has no place in any locker room, dojo, gym or anywhere else because it is just plain stupid. Wait! That’s not all! I thought Ireland and Philbin wanted a team made up of clean cut, smart, focused athletes not thugs… what happened to Ireland’s “vision” Aha!