Up front the Miami Dolphins want to be viewed as a unified team. Behind closed doors it may be entirely different. I will only make warning here. Don’t buy into the drivel being spewed by the media. I can tell you with absolute certainty that they don’t know all the facts. So much so that their constant fight to be first with news could have a profound impact on Jonathan Martin’s return to the team or even a return to the NFL. Make no mistake, they would also love to have that story to write about as well.
What we know, and forgive my staff writers for no more “opinion” posts as I have asked for refrain in this case until we know more absolutes, is little or nothing. However it appears that the plight of Jonathan Martin may not be as cut and dry as we originally thought. In fact despite some crude comments made by Richie Incognito it appears more and more possible that Incognito was in fact innocent of bullying all together. At least for today.
So what is the latest?
First of all the Peter King MMQB article by former Dolphin Lydon Murtha is an absolute must read. Murtha has shed more light on this subject that anyone else. He wasn’t asked to write it but felt compelled to write it. What did he say? Well for starters he doesn’t blame Richie Incognito. We learned that the $15,000.00 shell out by Martin was not something as simple as a bullying tactic to get a guy who didn’t want to go, to pay. Murtha paints this differently with first person perspective.
According to Murtha the lineman plan a yearly bonding trip to Las Vegas and it’s planned well in advance. A head count is made, accommodations are made, and a private plane is secured. Later the bill comes due and players pay their share. Murtha says that Martin originally was going to go and then backed out after the trip had been paid for. The players asked him for his share of the costs to which Martin paid. Murtha also pointed out that Martin was always with Richie Incognito and outwardly appeared to be his friend, a close friend. Incognito picked on him but no more than anyone else and Martin never showed that it bothered him.
Murtha also stated that the declination of coaches to Incognito to “toughen-up” Martin was more or less an edict to get Martin to come out of his shell. Murtha described Martin as standoffish, quiet, and someone who didn’t really speak to the others. A stark contrast to the pre-NFL Draft psych report that indicated Martin had the potential to be a leader in the NFL.
Earlier this week Brian Hartline, Mike Wallace, and Tyson Clabo all came to the defense of Incognito. Wallace going so far as to say Incog is an honorary “brother”. While the players don’t seem too outraged at the coaches for Incognito’s suspension…mainly due to the language he used on the VM, they are biting back at the aforementioned media clowns.
This is a national media story. It’s gone beyond a sports story and everyone wants a sound bite. Everyone wants to have a bite of that breaking news item to further their site, themselves, or their company. In reality it’s all wrong. The media is pressing players and “sources” for information and then taking a small sampling of that and writing their own opinions. Realizing that they are supposed to be the professionals who cover the news. It’s hard not to want get involved with being first when a click on a page means money. Split an article and two and that’s two clicks. Now there is pay walls and multiple pages for one article…but the news isn’t any closer to be factual.
Jonathan Martin may be the victim here or Richie Incognito who demanded his name be cleared very well may turn out to be the victim in all of this. We simply don’t know enough facts to fully make a judgement either way. Is this simply a case of Martin’s parents hearing the VM and creating a bigger mess for their son than he wanted? Is it truly a case of behind the scenes bullying by Incognito? Is Martin too soft and how much did the coaches actually know and then how high up the ladder does it rise? Then of course ultimately what decisions will Stephen Ross be forced to make?
The only thing that is for certain is that this is not going to go away very soon.
On a final note regarding the lunch room incident that seemed to have sparked the entire issue. A painted picture might help to better see the tray slamming incident. The picture below is of the players dining room. There was no long table where all the lineman were sitting and everyone got up and left. Tables seat four. There are no booths but tables that run the length of the window will seat between 4 and eight if I’m not mistaken. In addition this prank has been played on players for years and Ryan Tannehill himself has said he has been the victim as well. Martin has also reportedly been involved in participating in it against other players. This is not paint Martin in a hypocritical light but instead to diffuse this as something that was done out of bullying, hate, or genuine dislike.