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