Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

03 Nov 2013

What Is Going on in Miami?

It was a bit shocking last week when Miami tackle Jonathan Martin left the team and was put on the non-football injury list for "emotional reasons." But we're starting to get some more information on what's going on in the Miami locker room and it seems to take the usual rookie hazing to a new (and surprisingly financial) level. Dolphins veterans are apparently pressuring some rookies into paying for meals until they've exhausted their $390,000 rookie salaries. Making rookies pay for big veteran meals is an NFL tradition, of course, but you usually don't get a report that the rookies have paid so much that they've gone broke. You also don't normally have a player who is still being pressured to spend money in his second season, and then goes on the NFI list with emotional problems. ESPN reports that Martin won't file a formal complaint with the league because of fear of retribution from teammates.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 03 Nov 2013

176 comments, Last at 09 Nov 2013, 12:14am by Will Allen


by Thok :: Sun, 11/03/2013 - 7:08pm

Thank you for posting this. And thank god the NFL/NFLPA are taking this seriously and not trying to claim it's simply boys being boys.

On the flip side, I'd like to know what the Dolphins coaching staff and GM knew about the hazing issues. They're the people who should have stopped it, or possibly kept it from happening in the first place.

by Juvenal (not verified) :: Sun, 11/03/2013 - 8:20pm

I am really surprised there isn't more oversight of this sort of thing. These players are extremely valuable assets and you would think the owners would have an interest in seeing they don't damage each other.

by tuluse :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 3:51am

I expect in most cases hazing does a good job preparing players for the mental stresses of playing games.

Of course "in most cases" doesn't include hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent.

by Bobman :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 4:18am

Yeah, I figured that in this day and age it didn't go much beyond "rookie carry my bags", and a few meals, and certainly did not extend halfway into season 2.

That being said, how many other general NFL fans have previously come to the conclusion that Rickie Incognito is a dirty shit who has no place in the game based on his on-field actions? Sweet irony that it's his own team possibly pulling the plug on his career. Because, really, after this indefinite suspension by the team, what is the NFL's discipline policy for basically ANY offense that's out of line on or off the field? And how likely is it that he'd be able to become a choir boy after all these years? (This assume Miami eventually cuts him)

by CBPodge :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 8:52am

As far as I understand it, the policy is that the Dolphins can suspend him for a maximum of four games within the terms of the CBA, and the league has no jurisdiction. So really, suspending him just pushes the argument four weeks into the future. I guess then they could just cut him, saying that his presence on the team would harm performance of the OL (so he's cut for performance reasons, rather than off-the-field reasons, which might leave them liable for his full remaining salary).

Oddly though, this isn't the impression I got of Incognito. I hate his on-field performance as much as the next guy (I'm a Rams fan, he hurt us a lot more than he ever helped), but I always got the impression he was the kind of guy that players wanted on their team - his penalties tended to come from having his teammate's backs, rather than just being a dick.

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 10:20am

That was behind him, he hasn't committed a dumb penalty in ages, that I recall. He really seemed to have cleaned up his act -on the surface, apparently.

The man with no sig

by tuluse :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 12:50pm

That's probably suspension without pay. You can always tell a player not to show up.

by CBPodge :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 4:03pm

I don't think you can. I seem to remember the Eagles tried that with TO and it didn't fly.

Apparently the league do have some power to discipline him under the personal conduct policy, but it'd be a unique case.

by Crunch (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 4:25pm

The Dolphin's are well within their rights to cut him though. According to Sporttrak he's "only" got a little less than 1.2 Mil in bonus money this year and is an UFA next year so the Dolph's would save a little money releasing him, and it wouldn't change their cap situation next year at all.

by JonC :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 1:38pm

You think any kind of hazing whatsoever prepares them to handle stress better than, you know, 2-4 years of playing college football, on top of 4 years of high school football, etc. etc. etc.??

by tuluse :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 2:21pm

Better than? Probably not. In addition to? Quite likely.

If you can't handle some ribbing for your teammates, how would you be able to handle Steve Smith telling you how much you suck after he just converted a 3rd down against you (or whatever)?

Again, this entire situation is far from normal.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 2:46pm

Martin would probably react by being very confused, as he's an offensive lineman.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 3:01pm

That wouldn't stop Steve Smith.

by SFC B :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 3:09pm

I think there is a significant difference between having an opposing player taunt you, and your own teammate harassing, extorting, and threatening you for a year and a half.

by tuluse :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 11:46pm

I agree, which is why I said this is not a usual circumstance.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 1:04pm

I'm really curious to hear more details. Does this sort of thing happen on other teams? And, if not, how did it come to become the norm on the Dolphins? I remember a few cases where rookies have refused to carry veterans pads and the like, so I'm sure they weren't forking cash over to them. And how on earth does would this extend into a guy's second year?

by bucko (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 1:15pm


a lot of players have confirmed that rookies are expected to buy food/dinner for vets their rookie year. most cases the rookies will split the bill. first rounders might pick up the whole tab for a night.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 2:20pm

But team dinners during the season are quite a bit different than having younger players pay $15,000 towards vets taking offseason trips to Vegas. And Martin is no longer a rookie.

by bucko (not verified) :: Sun, 11/03/2013 - 8:43pm

As more and more details come out the Dolphins coaching staff sounds pretty inept at knowing what is happening in the clubhouse. And some of the Miami veteran players look to be significant jerks.

What a mess

by Bobman :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 4:21am

I bet Jason Taylor would not have let this happen on his watch.

by this won't end well (not verified) :: Sun, 11/03/2013 - 10:06pm
by Boots Day :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 1:22am

It flatters the players who were perpetrating this to refer it it as hazing, if your reporting is correct. It's actually extortion.

by MurphyZero :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 9:02pm

I agree. All Martin has to do is file a police report and Miami is in a world of hurt. Whether or not any charges come out of it. At that point, the league would have some jurisdiction.

by MC2 :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 1:38am

I find the use of the very vague term "retribution" to be a bit odd. Did Incognito threaten to kill Martin (or to respond with some other extreme form of violence)?

If so, this would seem to be a matter for the police, and it is strange that Martin has apparently filed no criminal charges against Incognito or anyone else.

If not, the whole matter seems silly. This is not like a 95-pound freshman weakling being stuffed into a garbage can by the senior bully. Martin looks to be more than capable of defending himself. If he is this upset by the prospect of a physical confrontation with Incognito, what does this say about his ability to "handle himself" on the field?

by collapsing pocket (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 1:55am

If he is this upset by the prospect of a physical confrontation with Incognito, what does this say about his ability to "handle himself" on the field?

Perhaps he knows there's a difference between "the field" and real life, so he doesn't want to get in a senseless fight with a co-worker that could potentially cost him big time by causing injuries or incurring a lawsuit or earning himself other official punishment from his team or the league.

by MC2 :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 7:26am

So the solution to this dilemma is to just walk away from the job that you are apparently so afraid of losing?

by collapsing pocket (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 1:51pm

I don't think that having an emotional breakdown because of extortion and threats is quite the same as just "walking away from your job".

Oh, and to answer one of your original questions, apparently Incognito DID threaten to kill Martin and made other threats against him and his family, which might explain Martin's fear of retribution if he complained. Perhaps criminal charges are in his future.

by Rikki (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 9:53pm

A future Cy Young winner walked away from a job he was afraid of not being able to do anymore, a job where mental toughness is at a premium. We need to be more careful with job skill narratives.

by SFC B :: Tue, 11/05/2013 - 4:50am

If you're talking about Zack Grienke he was suffering from depression. It was never an issue for Grienke of being "able" to play baseball, it was a issue of whether he "wanted" to.

I always hesitate to attribute the "dream job" to professional sports. I'd be willing to bet that for a lot of them it isn't a "dream" job so much as a "job they're very good at which pays them very well".

by JoeHova :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 2:28am

He's big, but what does that have to do with wanting to brawl with a teammate? His size is irrelevant, not everybody likes to fistfight. And why should he have to?

Also, all of the "just punch a bully in the nose and he'll back off" talk that has been going around is just not true. It may be true in 4th grade or whatever but if a guy is 30 (like Incognito) and still acting like a bully, he is most likely relishing the idea of a confrontation. Some guys just like to make other people miserable, whether it's mentally or physically. I knew a guy who, if he got into a fight, always made sure to break some of the other guy's bones, to "let him know I'd been there." And this guy looked for fights. He's not backing off if you punch him, he's hoping that you punch him so he has an excuse to badly injure you.

by MC2 :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 7:33am

I'm not saying that Martin should "punch him in the nose", or anything like that. I'm just saying that he should tell Incognito to go to hell. If Incognito then initiates violence, it would be Martin who would have the "excuse" to defend himself.

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 10:22am

That guy looks like an extreme case. Then again, maybe you're right and adult bullies are a different story.

The man with no sig

by bucko (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 10:43am

As someone who has been in senior management now for a few years, I have had to address situations where unless you were there firsthand you would not believe that people would act the way they acted toward co-workers.

There are adult people in this world who on the face seem ok but in fact are flat out loons. And vicious loons to boot.

So I would encourage folks not to dismiss the notion that there are Dolphin players who fall into that category. These whackos rely on people's initial belief that people are 'good and reasonable'. So they can talk away the other person's accusations as being impossible because 'nobody acts that way'.

Well, they do. And it's wrong.

by MdM (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 1:07pm

right... for example, Aaron Hernandez. Guy like that, you don't "stand up to him", you walk away (making sure not to turn your back).

Workplace violence is common and often deadly. Ironically, the USPS is actually a safer than average place to work--"going postal" is less common there than the workplace at large!

by rfh1001 :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 6:23am

Dude, seriously?

Our understanding of the nature of intimidation has moved on a little from this, surely?

by MC2 :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 7:05am

You and the other comments directly above yours all seem to be missing my point.

I'm not arguing that Martin should be "forced" to fight Incognito, nor am I condoning Incognito's behavior.

I'm simply pointing out that, unless Incognito is capable of Aaron Hernandez-type "retribution", I find it a little odd that Martin is apparently so eager to avoid a confrontation with him that he is willing to walk away from his dream job.

A reputation as being easily intimidated is definitely not a positive in the NFL.

by SFC B :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 9:18am

Having dealt with bullying growing up, and seen the effects of harassment in the workplace, dealing with it for a year+ doesn't seem, to me, like being "easily" intimidated.

Incognito was on the Dolphins' "leadership council", he is a veteran and, apparently, respected by his teammates. If he decided to make another teammate's life miserable there are any number of ways he can do so without needing to resort to physical violence. It's called "harassment" for a reason. It's quite likely that Incognito's actions made his "dream job" into a "nightmare" which made walking away from it the more appealing option.

As for Martin's future in the NFL I have little doubt, regardless of Incognito's involvement, he's not going to enjoy a long, fruitful career. If there's one thing close-knit, closed groups hate it is someone who turns on a member, no matter how justified.

by MC2 :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 10:41am

Your argument proves my point. The fact that he was willing to put up with it for so long without standing up to Incognito just proves how intimidated he was (or is).

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 11:02am

I'm skeptical that Incognito was acting alone. No matter how big and strong a guy is, if there are 3-4 other guys who are just as big and strong acting in concert (bullies often travel in packs), the odds are stacked against you.

This sounds like a far less extreme version of what happend to Pvt. Danny Chen. You would think a soldier in combat zone would be able to deal with high stress/adversity, but if it's your own colleagues who are making your life miserable, that's an entirely different situation.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 11:21am

"I'm skeptical that Incognito was acting alone."

That's where I'm at. The stories that have come out so far, I just can't imagine that Incognito did this completely on his own. He might have been the ring-leader, but there had to be others involved.

by EricL :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 3:14pm

I'm sort of there as well, but given Incognito's past, it wouldn't surprise me if he took it further than anyone else, even if not acting alone.

I haven't seen any other players implicated, and the one excerpt of a voicemail transcript (? I think that was the medium) I saw is pretty damning. In fact, it seems to be enough evidence to charge Incognito with a crime.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 1:15pm

Highly unlikely Incognito acted completely alone. Also my suspicion is that the Miami coaching staff must have also given at least tacit approval to at least part of what was going on. If there wasn't an atmosphere of "younger guys are expected to do this" then Martin would just have been able to say "no."

by bucko (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 9:28am

I had a boss a long time ago who was a big baseball fan and insisted that everyone in his department go with him to various games to see the hometown team play. And everyone had to pay him back for the block of tickets he purchased which were box seats that back then may not sound like a lot but $20-$30 was real money to someone making 28k a year. And you had to buy at least one round of beers. For more than a dozen people. And if you didn't attend the game he was at your desk the following day where you either paid up or he browbeat you and let you know if you didn't attend the next game you could forget about your next review being decent.

I love baseball but thought this was BS and left that company.

Your posts remind me of that guy.

by MC2 :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 10:44am

I used to know a guy who, whenever someone said something he didn't like, but he couldn't refute what they had said, he would launch into a long, boring story that had absolutely nothing to do with what the other person had said.

You remind me of that guy.

by bucko (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 11:01am

Pretty clear we view this situation very differently.

Short version is that when I read this story it reminds me of the situation at a manufacturing plant that was in my company's network where the maintenance men had tormented one guy so badly he ended up in the hospital. (mental exhaustion) And when they interviewed the group the ringleader told the VP of HR, "we thought eventually he would do something back". (I am paraphrasing because this was a while ago and recalling from memory)

Sorry if that's a long, boring story. But that is my firsthand experience on how someone just doesn't take the route of fighting back or however one wants to term it. People respond in different ways.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 11:07am

I also wouldn't go overboard on encouraging people to "fight back." Not everyone has a quick enough wit to match verbal barbs with an emotional bully (which is probably why the bully picked them in the first place). Even if physical confrontation is an option, I don't think an organization would want violence to be a routine part of their workplace/locker room. If Martin had "fought back", he would probably be the one suspended for conduct detrimental to the team.

by MC2 :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 1:24pm

Look, I understand how the story that you told relates to Incognito's behavior. You'll notice, however, that it has nothing to do with what I said, since I have never come close to defending Incognito's behavior. Given that, saying that my comment reminded you of your former boss made no sense.

by jebmak :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 11:53am

Wow. What a dick comment.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 1:07pm

I try my best to avoid getting into flame-wars with total strangers on the internet, so thank you for posting exactly what I was thinking.

by rfh1001 :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 12:47pm

This and the rest of your comments indicates that you are missing the point.

I'll try to keep it short: harassment and bullying are the sort of thing that get over-diagnosed by mimsy nanny-staters who can't accept that there is a certain rough-and-tumble in various especially men-only contexts that is totally fine. However, they are absolutely real, and can be awful, and it looks likely that they are what we're looking at here, rather than at the 'normal' sort of rookie hazing and mucking about, which I am personally fine with.

I find it absolutely plausible that someone's life could be made a misery for a year, and that he could withdraw and bottle it up, desperate to keep his dream job. And then he could snap and walk away.

I find this more plausible than that a sensible adult would see the solution as having a fight with the senior player who is harassing him, even if he could kick their ass as easily as I bet I could kick yours, you idiot.

Oh, wait, I got personal at the end. I know it weakens my argument, but I'll live with it.

by MC2 :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 1:36pm

No, you're the one who's missing the point, and your childish ad hominems and insults aren't doing anything to change that. Whether or not you could kick my ass has nothing to do with the facts at hand here.

The facts are that this situation has apparently been going on for quite some time. During that time, Martin has had a number of options available to him. First, he could have told Incognito to go to hell, and then dealt with whatever "retribution" occurred (that's not the same thing as "punching the bully in the nose", by the way). Second, he could have reported Incognito's behavior to the team, or even to the police, if he felt that such an action was warranted. Third, he could have simply put up with it, as he apparently did for quite a while. Finally, he could have walked away from the entire situation, as he has apparently now decided to do.

In my opinion, either of the first two options would have made a lot more sense than either of the latter two, yet he chose the latter two. I personally find that odd. I'm not sure why me simply expressing that opinion has you so angry.

by Jakob S (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 2:12pm

And how are you in any position to speak about "facts"?

You're fabricating a bunch of scenarios based on what is currently very limited public information. If you happen to be in possession of firsthand knowledge of the situation, feel free to enlighten the rest of us.

by MC2 :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 10:16pm

You're absolutely right. I should have said "the facts as they have been reported".

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 2:32pm

The tone of your posts are focused less on Incognito's actions, and more on suggesting that Martin shares responsibility for this whole situation, which reeks of victim-blaming.

Now maybe that's not what you meant, but it wasn't entirely clear.

by Rikki (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 9:56pm

Exactly this. Not sure if intended, but it's easy to fall to the "both sides" fallacy. Even if the victim makes mistakes, there are no two sides to abuse.

by MC2 :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 10:26pm

I never meant to imply any such thing. The reason I haven't said much about Incognito's actions is because, given everything I have heard about him, it doesn't surprise me at all that he is behaving like a total prick (although if he did in fact threaten to kill Martin or hurt his family, that would be a bit shocking).

Martin, on the other hand, has behaved in a way that I find to be very odd, which is the whole point of my original comment. That doesn't mean I think the situation is at all Martin's fault. It clearly is not. He is not in any way responsible for the kind of treatment that he has (allegedly) received. However, that does not mean that he couldn't have handled the situation better, and the fact that he failed to do so suggests that he may have trouble handling other tough situations that occur on the field. That's all I meant to say. I hardly think that is equivalent to "blaming the victim", which was certainly not my intent.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 5:58pm

It's clearly Martin's fault that he couldn't stop Incognito from raping him. I find it very strange that he didn't behave in a way that stopped him from being raped.

Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?

by MC2 :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 10:17pm

Is your reading comprehension seriously that bad?

That doesn't mean I think the situation is at all Martin's fault. It clearly is not. He is not in any way responsible for the kind of treatment that he has (allegedly) received.

You somehow imply that this is equivalent to saying: "It's clearly Martin's fault that he couldn't stop Incognito from raping him."


by RickD :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 5:37pm

Your comments seem to be "missing the point" by a fairly wide margin.

For example:

" I find it a little odd that Martin is apparently so eager to avoid a confrontation with him that he is willing to walk away from his dream job."

"Eager" has nothing to do with it. You're showing no understanding of Martin's state of mind. The existence of the psychology of bullying seems to not register with you in the slightest.

I also don't know why you think Martin hasn't had any confrontations with Incognito. There's a lot more going on here than physical threats.

by MC2 :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 10:23pm

Perhaps "eager" was a poor choice of words. I should have said "desperate" instead. Is that better? It really doesn't change my basic point.

The reason I think Martin hasn't had any confrontations with Incognito is that we probably would have heard about them by now if he had. Of course, anything is possible, but I try to avoid groundless speculation.

by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 10:27am

Find the video of a bunch of NYG player dumping another NYG player head first into about an 18inch deep therapy pool as part of bullying last year, and tell me again this isn't just about a-holes being a-holes because they can. It is a gang of about a dozen guys nearly killing another guy for the giggles.

Teams should be stomping all over this behavior.

by MC2 :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 10:47am

If, in fact, anyone is "nearly killing" anyone else (or threatening to do so), that is a criminal action, and as I said in my original comment, they should be reported to the police, and appropriate legal action should be taken.

by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 11:50am

I would classify throwing someone head first into 18 inches of water as nearly killing. Certainly the dude looked concussed at the end of it.

by Theo :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 6:41pm

I think there's a big difference between threatening, harassing and coercing someone out of thousands of dollars (extortion) and being just stupid and dumping someone into water you're not aware of how deep it is (hazing)... unless I missed the point where bullying went on in the giants camp.

by Juvenal (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 7:18pm

If you see the video it pretty clearly seems to be activity that is a part of a lager system of bullying.

by nath :: Tue, 11/05/2013 - 5:59pm

Clearly inferior to an ale system of bullying.

by buzzorhowl (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 2:02am

This is incredibly disappointing. I have not felt good about the front office situation in Miami in years and this is further confirmation that management of that team is doing a poor job. Coaches and GM need to take control of their team. If this is not resolved in a positive way, and soon, it makes the entire NFL look bad by association.

by buzzorhowl (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 2:03am

P.S. Think any of this would have gone down on Parcells' watch? I'm gonna say NOPE.

by Jerry :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 4:50am

The same way Parcells reined in Lawrence Taylor's behavior?

More seriously, I'm not sure how tight a grip management and coaches have, or can have, on interaction among players. They may not have an accurate handle on what's actually going on, especially outside team facilities. They may try to get guys who don't get along together and smooth out some of the rough edges, and they may try to get their veteran leaders to ease tensions among their teammates. If there's a real jerk in the locker room, though, it's probably going to come down to whether the front office feels his on-field contribution is worth putting up with his off-field obnoxiousness. A star quarterback is going to get a much longer leash than a backup linebacker.

by SFC B :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 6:53am

I'm going to guess they actually have a fairly loose grip on the interpersonal actions of their players. Teams are, what, 60+ players (including practice squad folks), then add in staff and you're probably talking close to 100 people just in the clubhouse. Add in the stresses of different backgrounds, financial situations, job security, and the fact you're dealing with hyper-competitive (mostly) young men and the task of trying to keep something vaguealy resembling a focused and professional organization strikes me as terrifying daunting.

Given how infrequently you hear about situations like this in the NFL it seems to me that Incognito is an exceptionally bad personality who took it to a level beyond what the clubhouse can normally tolerate.

It's interesting to look back at the initial reporting where it's described as Martin quitting the team because of "ribbing" and "teasing". I would not want to be put into the position of having to explain how demanding $15,000 to fund someone else's Vegas vacation is "teasing".

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 1:24pm

Can coaches know EVERYTHING that goes on? No, of course not. But this isn't high school or even college where there's a ton of time where players are off on their own. There's a ton of structure, the coaches or other staff are around for most all of it, and when the organized activities are over, guys are free to go home and remove themselves from their teammates if they so desire. It's really hard to believe that younger players were being asked to pay tens of thousands of dollars to veteran teammates without coaches being aware of it. And the sort of hazing that would be required to make guys comply with that would be considerable.

by usernaim250 :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 1:10pm

Given Parcells' public comments about Terry Glenn as a rookie, his private behavior and what he condoned must have been abominable.

by bucko (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 9:21am

Foxsports is reporting that Incognito "sent threatening texts that were racially charged in nature"

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 9:38am

The stuff with Incognito and Martin is the bigger headline, but I'm also interested in the bit about rookies who have been pressured into blowing their entire salary. We've all heard of the big meal tabs that the rookies have to pick up, but I thought that was usually more at the expense of the 1st rounders. I also thought it was a one-time thing. Some guy making the league minimum getting pressured to pick up a dinner check that represents more than 10% of his annual salary, multiple times apparently, seems overboard to me.

I guess my point is, Incognito and Martin is the story, but the rest of it makes me think it's a systemic issue. Incognito can't have done all this by himself. I have absolutely no sympathy for Incognito, but I wonder if he's not being sacrificed somewhat to make it seem like the issue has been handled.

by Crunch (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 11:34am

Actions have consequences. I'd hope, if there are underlying issues, that they won't go ignored, but if the allegations are true Incognito isn't being sacrificed. He's being punished for his actions.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 2:57pm

I don't mean sacrificed in the sense that he's not at fault. I mean sacrificed in the sense that he's being publicly punished in order to draw heat away from the rest of the organization. The question, in my mind, is whether this represents the start of a real investigation, or if the Dolphins just want to waive their hands and say "see everybody, problem solved, nothing else to see here". My opinion is it's not plausible that Incognito is the only one involved.

by Crunch (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 3:32pm

I doubt he's the only one involved, but he may have been the worst. Frankly I'm less concerned about whether they catch everyone involved (although it would be really nice) than about the NEXT guy in the Dolphins locker room who decides that it's a good idea to bully and harass a team mate knowing that he's out on his ass if he does so.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 3:40pm

If reports prove accurate, "bullying" and "harassment" are severe understatements. It astounds me that so many people don't grasp that threatening to kill another human being can get you a felony conviction.

by Crunch (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 3:54pm

I understand the severity of Incognito's actions. My principle concern is that the Dolphins (and for that matter the NFL in general) use this as an impetus to cleam up a frankly disgusting element of football culture.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 4:10pm

Good grief, Stephen Ross is an attorney, fer' cryin' out loud, and you don't become a billionaire developing New York real estate without spending a good chunk of your life in litigation, as plaintiff and defendant. It defies imagination that he could have known of this situation, and allowed it to fester. If Ireland or Philbin knew of it, I wouldn't be surprised if Ross is at least mentally exploring the possibilities of firing them both for cause, meaning they don't get their contracts paid off.

by Boots Day :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 4:17pm

You also don't become a billionaire developing New York real estate without having, shall we say, a slippery sense of ethics. It doesn't defy imagination at all to think that the higher-ups thought this was worth putting up with if it improved their offensive line.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 4:30pm

Yeah, but a slip and fall sharpie from Schenectady knows that looking the other way, when there is incontrovertible evidence like e-mail and text messages, is essentially giving a blank check to the threatened employee, and you are going to have to eventually fire the offending employee anyhow. Hell, I think I read somewhere that both of Martin's parents are Harvard Law attorneys, for the love of Melvin Belli. Martin probably confided in his parents early on, and they have been advising him the whole time about the importance of contemporaneous record keeping. This is going to be the legal equivalent of watching a baby seal get clubbed.

by Crunch (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 4:51pm

There's a line from "The Grifters" where Annette Benning's character says something to the effect of "They made money when everyone was making money and they think it makes them smart." Every time a billionaire does something incredibly stupid I think about that line.

by Cythammer (not verified) :: Wed, 11/06/2013 - 11:28pm

LOL, seriously? You don't become a billionaire by lucking into a good economy. That's crazy talk.

by tuluse :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 1:07am

If you're Steve Ballmer, you just need to be good friends with Bill Gates.

Or if you're a Walton kid, you just need to have a really successful dad.

by Crunch (not verified) :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 10:37am

You can become a billionaire in many ways. Being in the right place at the right time for something you have to become incredibly valuable is in fact one of those ways.

Of course the most popular way to become a billionaire is to be born into it and do absolutely nothing except get lucky.

by johonny (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 12:09pm

The most bitter part of all this is Ross and Ireland "cleaned" up the team a few seasons ago trading Marshall away for peanuts and cutting Johnson. Yet they kept Incognito around even though everyone knew he was an *. The other angle on this is Richie was Long's good friend and clearly Martin took Longs spot on the line. Personally I sure hope his "neck injury" is a good enough excuse for the team to finally IR him and injury waive him away. I never see him on the team again. Ross and Ireland waste time asking potential players if their mom is a whore but tolerated Incognito for years now... think about it? I can't wait until Ross and Ireland are gone from Miami for good. The commissioner should suspend the two of them along with Incognito. Free the Dolphins.

by Crunch (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 1:45pm

I suppose it's too late to trade him to the Jaguars. He sounds like a Schiano Man to me.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 3:13pm

I choose to believe that this comment was made knowing full well that Schiano is not the Jaguars' coach.

In that context, this comment wins the thread.

by Crunch (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 3:28pm

That was my intention yes. I often forget how poorly sarcasm travels on the Internet.

by mehllageman56 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 10:15pm

Trade Schiano to the Jaguars, and let Bradley have the rest of the year off, so he can be in a better frame of mind next year. Then sign Incognito so he can haze Schiano into buying him trips to Vegas. That would be football justice, wouldn't it? It's at least an idea for a Breaking Madden.

by SFC B :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 2:31pm

Adam Schefter is reporting that in some of the texts Incognito threatened to kill Martin and called him a half-n****r.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 2:51pm

That's not even clever.

Is mulatto no longer a word? Or even stretching to something like "halfling"?

Back when I was a kid, hazing meant something.

by Theo :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 7:12pm

...it's not the preferred nomenclature, mixed or bi-racial please.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 3:32pm

If management knew of an honest to goodness death threat, from one player to another, and did not immediately terminate the employee committing that crime, the threatened employee is an employment lawyer's dream plaintiff, and Miami's management has redefined stupidity.

by bucko (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 3:54pm

Yup. I have likely gone down the personal anecdote path too often already but when you have manufacturing plants this type of stuff is far too common. Especially as folks of different racial/ethnic backgrounds begin to mix. If I'm not dealing with operators tormenting temporary workers from Somalia it's material handlers being whacko with the newly hired guy who grew up in Eritrea.

You wonder where people find time to be this crazy/mean. But they do

by bucko (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 4:05pm

Apparently Incognito's father is now insulting Martin via the Dolphins message board

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 10:49pm

Oh, yes he is. However, he did it as a fan and was only found out by a staff member after investigating. I'm sure a lot of friends and family members of players post in fan boards, even players, and fan boards are not exactly the place for high discourse, anyway.

The man with no sig

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 5:41pm

Is it just me or is it fairly obvious that there was no actual death threat in that voice mail? Just a bunch of stupid ranting that no one would take seriously as a death threat even if they took it seriously as abuse.

And how is Martin's response not to make a copy of the tape, play it in a team meeting, and say "Guys, I'm down with being a younger player, but this has nothing to do with that."

by bucko (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 6:00pm

The message alone does not provide any context of the interactions between Incognito and Martin. A reader may see this "I'll kill you' and interpret it in terms of 'the next time we work together on the field I will be way better than you'.

Martin may have had interactions with Incognito that he perceived as so hostile he instead heard 'I will commit bodily harm to you'

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 6:44pm

Incognito apparently threatened to harm members of Martin's family,too

by Will Allen :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 6:29pm

When a man who has a previous conviction for assault calls you and says that you are dead, the prudent thing to do is to take his chosen words at face value. The imprudent thing to do would be to write off the words of man, who has previously engaged in criminal violence, as mere hyperbole.

by JoeHova :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 6:47pm

Like Will said, why would you assume a mean, vicious and violent guy is being hyperbolic or joking when he threatens you? Sure, Martin was probably 99% sure Incognito wasn't going to actually kill him (or shit in his mouth), but there is still that 1% chance and that is not going to make it easy to sleep at night. And apparently something changed recently that made Martin feel like Incognito's threats were closer to coming true.

by johonny (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 8:24pm

Even if he wasn't going to kill him he was extorting money from him. It isn't just "meal" money. He threatened Martin into giving him 15 K to go to Vegas from what I read.

by JoeHova :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 7:00pm

I think it's a shame that, in a profession where guys are knowingly putting themselves at risk of grievous injury, they also have to worry about shitheads on their own team making their life hell. Obviously there will always be a certain amount of hostility and shit-talking between different players (like there is in any situation when large groups of people get together), but you would hope that adults could realize that there is a point where it goes too far.

Also, this situation kind of lays bare the hypocrisy of coaches talking about professionalism. There was talk Philbin traded Vontae Davis because he wasn't "professional" enough. Well, if that's the case, what the hell is Incognito? It seems that the only thing coaches mean by "professional" is that a guy doesn't question the coaches and shows up to the weight room early. Anything else is apparently fine.

by johonny (not verified) :: Mon, 11/04/2013 - 8:32pm

That to me this is the most interesting central issue. Ireland dumped Marshall, Johnson, and Davis for character issues. He skipped drafting Dez Bryant (famously) for character issues. Yet somehow Incognito remained around even though everyone seemed to know his character. Certainly anyone that reads Football outsiders regularly isn't exactly surprised to see Incognito's name in this mess. One might note those other players were black and Incognito is white... I can't decide if Philbin is an amazing coach somehow holding Irelands shipwreck afloat or just an idiot along with the rest. No doubt there is more to come from this. The current Dolphins has the feel of the train wreck that was the Victor Kiam lead Patriots and we all remember how well that worked out. To me you have to look at Ross and Ireland before Philbin but no doubt the whole organization is sinking fast.

by nath :: Tue, 11/05/2013 - 6:04pm

Ireland's the kind of guy who asked Dez Bryant in an interview how having a hooker mom affected him, so I'm not surprised he's the kind of guy who would turn a blind eye to this stuff.

by Crunch (not verified) :: Tue, 11/05/2013 - 11:41am

SI has a thoroughly awful article on it quoting league sources blaming the victim and chiding fans for "feigning outrage."

by usernaim250 :: Tue, 11/05/2013 - 11:48am

Sadly, I can't avert my eyes from this trainwreck of a situation.

Of course I am disgusted with all the comments about wussification and Martin should have manned up, kept it in house, etc. These comments are often accompanied by assertions that we don't know all the facts--about Incognito.

Not once have I seen anyone admit that we don't actually know what steps Martin took, and what he may have been advised by "team leaders" and coaches. He may well have confronted Incognito, gone up the chain, etc.

He was in a lose-lose situation. He's supposed to go to the leadership council, maybe? But Incognito IS ON the leadership council. The comments from his teammates--"I didn't personally have a problem with Incognito"--that's clearly the problem. No one in or out of the locker room stood up for Martin. And when you are asked to sacrifice your body for teammates who won't lift a finger on your behalf, for a year and a half, that's got to be soul destroying.

Apropos of nothing, Incognito first came to my attention when I randomly attended the 2004 (I think) Alamo Bowl. The only thing that stood out about the quite boring game was his behavior, from late hits to trying to take out the opposition's knees (and succeeding). Looked like a roid rage psychopath. Was a little surprised he got drafted, especially when he got kicked off of two college teams, and haven't been surprised at any of his subsequent incidents.

I hope Martin opens up a huge can of legal whoop ass on the Dolphins and that the NFL cleans this crap up. A guy should be able to go to work without regular hazing, much less he harassment Incognito (and others, most likely) put him through.

by Crunch (not verified) :: Tue, 11/05/2013 - 11:51am

I agree with almost everything you said there.

The one thing I will say is that, other than Trotter at SI and a wierd conversation between Mike Gollick and Chris Carter this morning where they kept defending hazing in the abstract and implying that Martin was "soft" while trying to distance that from what Incognito did, I haven't seen the parade of assholes taking Incognito's side that I expected.

by nath :: Tue, 11/05/2013 - 6:06pm

I thought Cris Carter had one of the better takes on the situation. He seemed to be the only media personality who recognized that you can't just retaliate against a guy like Incognito, because he's the kind of psycho whose death threats you actually have to take seriously.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/05/2013 - 2:29pm

I really want to stress that threatening to kill a person is a criminal act, and it is a travesty that it so frequently not dealt with appropriately.

by Cythammer (not verified) :: Wed, 11/06/2013 - 11:30pm

'Travesty' is an awfully harsh term for something that does no actual harm.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 3:14pm

Failing to deal with death threats appropriately has done no harm?

by Dr. Bill :: Tue, 11/05/2013 - 6:14pm

The NFL is now about to confront the difficult but salient distinction between hazing and acculturation, something the services, especially the Marine Corps, have struggled with. Like the Marine Corps, or combat arms branches in the Army, NFL teams rely on members to actively acculturate other members informally, and to police each other to enforce cultural norms*. Acculturation is legitimate, hazing isn't, but from the outside they can look fairly similar. Since institutions like the USMC or the NFL lack the social science vocabulary and concepts to explain the difference between hazing and acculturation**, they are ill-positioned to distinguish between the two in trying to remedy embarrassing public problems.

So this should be a complete goat-rope.

* all communities do, but one like the Marine Corps do it in very visible, often rough ways.

** of course, some groups within institutions don't care about the distinction, and may even encourage hazing.

by Crunch (not verified) :: Wed, 11/06/2013 - 12:08pm

ESPN is reporting that Miami coaches asked Incognito to "toughen Martin up" in the off season. If that's true then the Miami denial that they knew anything was going on, as well as the questions about why Martin didn't handle things in house, seem pretty foolish.

by usernaim250 :: Wed, 11/06/2013 - 1:17pm

If these reports are true--and they pass the smell test IMO--then the team is in massive trouble and the NFLPA in a much easier position.

Instead of having to protect Incognito and Martin from each other, now the union's beef is with the team. Incognito is personally innocent, responding to improper pressure from his bosses. Martin too is the victim of coaches. And add a grievance about "voluntary" workouts to the mix. Expect lost minicamp days and a draft pick.

Incognito now has grounds for getting his job back (thank god he didn't verbally abuse any dogs--then he'd be crucified.)

Martin can now sue both Incognito and the team for the treble damages he is entitled to under Florida law.

And the league I going to have to ban pretty much all of this stuff, even the silly stuff. Certainly any requirements to pay dinner tabs falls far afoul of the law, and the symbolic stuff from singing your alma mater to being taped to the goal posts and so forth is likely to be banned too.

by Crunch (not verified) :: Wed, 11/06/2013 - 1:19pm

I think, at the very least, Incognito is guilty of criminal harassment. In my opinion the coaches having set him on Martin increases their culpability, but it doesn't negate his.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 11/06/2013 - 5:18pm

Regardless of what management said, it's a crime to call somebody on the phone, and assert that you are going to kill the somebody.

It is interesting to me how long this issue has been talked about. When Alan Page was rookie in 1967, and the veterans told him to stand and sing the Notre Dame fight song, he told them to go eff themselves. Any thought of upping the ante on Page was likely tempered by the fact that he was the best player on the team, and regularly whipped his teammates on the practice field like proverbial leased horse/donkey hybrids.

by usernaim250 :: Wed, 11/06/2013 - 1:26pm

One thing I've noticed in the player and ex-player comments is that problems seem to have been worse on bad teams. Gannon: KC was fine (under Marty), Oak bad (when he arrived they were 10 games under 500 for last three years). Dilfer: TB was terrible until Dungy. Reports of the recent Ravens and packers are good. Seattle good. Bill Walsh, Andy Reid: no hazing.

I'm sure the correlation is not perfect. Still looking for data points obviously. But it would fit with pop psych if losing teams haze more as compensation for on-the-field failure. And if hazing causes losing by dividing the team and minimizing contributions from young players.

by Theo :: Wed, 11/06/2013 - 6:31pm

Strong management/weak management? If players are the boss (hazing) then the team is busy with monkey politics.
If the coaches are the boss, they are not distracted by such things and work for a common good.

by SFC B :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 4:31am

This is exactly my thought. I'd bet there is a fairly high correlation between teams with a dysfunctional climate, and teams with the combination of new management and turnover of personnel.

Seems to me that Miami has gone through a number of coaches recently, and has not had a lot of stability in player personnel. That seems like it would be a receipe for an enviroment where terrible personalities would replace actual team-building efforts with hazing and harassment.

by Dr. Bill :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 8:50pm

The correlation may not be causal--they may both spring from bad leadership. Bad leaders may not have a good pulse on the actual practices in their unit, and set bad examples in terms of their own conduct. Bad leaders also fail to prepare their units for success. I think hazing and losing both spring from the same source: bad leadership.

by morganja :: Wed, 11/06/2013 - 6:17pm

I'm still not sure how Incognito's behavior was supposed to toughen up Martin. Is it kind of like beating a dog to make him 'tough'? Perhaps the Miami coaches should have brought in Vick to toughen Martin up.

by Cythammer (not verified) :: Wed, 11/06/2013 - 11:33pm

All the Dolphin players seem to be defending Incognito and Ryan Tannehill is even saying he thought that Martin and Incognito were close friends, so this may be a lot more complicated than it seemed at first to be.

by Deelron :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 3:42am

Which seems to make it even more difficult to come forward, not to mention the new report of Martin's agent contacting GM Jeff Ireland (who doesn't love him!)and that Ireland specifically mentioning punching Incognito.

by usernaim250 :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 7:23am

What do you expect them to say? That Richie was a horrible a-hole, that they saw Martin reaching the breaking point, and that they kept riding him or did nothing? If they said that they a)look like a horrible human being to the world and b) look like turncoat scum to the same folks who just harassed a teammate into a psych ward.

So far in this saga, exactly one person has done anything that intentionally jeopardizes his own interests and that is Martin, who has accepted public and professional shame for not being "man" enough. Everyone else has defended their own interests.

by SFC B :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 10:47am

I've had to interview Soldiers who were in wholly dysfunctional organizations. The comments from the Dolphins players sound a lot like the comments I'd hear from people who had no idea that their friends were making the life of one of their other comrades a living hell.

I don't know which is more likely; Jonathan Martin was a delicate flower who was able to make it through years of high school and competitve collegiate-level football despite having a fragile psyche just waiting to be shattered by tough-love from a guy whose intensity and passion is misunderstood. Or Richie Incognito is a guy whose personality is so toxic it has gotten him run out of multiple organizations inspite of their investments in him and need for his skills who took a direction to "tough up" a rookie as an invitation to harass and abuse someone he knew wouldn't fight back.

by tuluse :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 12:21pm

If I was a Dolphin player I would be giving complete non-answers to every question.

"I wasn't aware of any problems between them"

"Everything seemed normal on the field/in practice"


by Theo :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 7:16pm

you can say nothing or something neutral. 'focus on football' seems to be the magic word

by Will Allen :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 3:22pm

There is nothing complicated about the utter stupidity in a manager earning a 7 figure salary deciding that Richie Incognito is a guy who should be told to "toughen up" another employee. It's like asking Tiger Woods to make sure your hot-looking wife stays faithful while you are out of town for a month. Ireland is a moron of titanic proportions as well. Hell, there's a report out now that when Martin's agent called Ireland to complain about Incognito's behavior, Ireland told the agent that Martin should punch Incognito. This guy doesn't have the mental capacity to manage a coin operated laundry, much less an NFL roster.

by morganja :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 3:29pm

Ha! Tiger Woods....
It's pretty clear Ireland has to go, along with the coaches. It's time to blow up that organization.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 3:36pm

Yeah, I'd say when the GM is willing to tell an agent that the agent's client should commit a criminal offense, in response to a report of friction between two employees, then the GM has to go.

Every time I think I've seen it all, in terms of idiocy, I'm given an education.

by Noah Arkadia :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 11:56am

An article just came out in SI by Lydon Murtha, a former backup OL of the Dolphins, with Peter King, that sheds a lot of light on the situation. That and the fact that every Dolphin player that has spoken has taken Incognito's side has frankly pushed me into his corner.

I won't summarize it because its value is in the details it provides about Martin's allegations. A must read.

The man with no sig

by Crunch (not verified) :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 2:44pm

The "details" in the Murtha piece are essentially that Murtha didn't like Martin from the moment he walked in the door, and that Murtha thinks he's "tougher" than a rookie who made a team he was cut from at the same position.

by Noah Arkadia :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 4:33pm

Nope, that's not it at all. In fact, I don't sense any animosity towards Martin in Murtha's article.

The man with no sig

by Crunch (not verified) :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 4:41pm

Go back and read the part where he explains how Martin didn't fit in from the moment he walked in the building and they tried to fix him.

This part here -

"From the beginning, when he was drafted in April 2012, Martin did not seem to want to be one of the group. He came off as standoffish and shy to the rest of the offensive linemen. He couldn’t look anyone in the eye, which was puzzling for a football player at this level on a team full of grown-ass men. We all asked the same question: Why won’t he be open with us? What’s with the wall being put up? I never really figured it out. He did something I’d never seen before by balking at the idea of paying for a rookie dinner, which is a meal for a position group paid for by rookies. (For example, I paid $9,600 for one my rookie year.) I don’t know if Martin ever ended up paying for one, as I was cut before seeing the outcome."

by Noah Arkadia :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 6:47pm

What I see is a guy that doesn't fit in. Ricky Williams has the same take on the situation, and I respect his opinion on this because he also was a weird guy that didn't fit in.

The man with no sig

by usernaim250 :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 8:24pm

First of all, the guy didn't see things develop for the last 14 months Second, as a Cornhusker, he's lying when he says he's not taking one side or the other.

Finally, most saliently, we see yet again the double talk that made Martin "damned if you do, damned if you don't." The most frequently uttered character assassination is that he needed to man up and stand up for himself. With regard to this rookie dinner, he did. Result: more harassment, accusations of not fitting in. Then with the Vegas trip, he ante's up. Result: more harassment and accusations of not being a man or changing his story to "bully" Incognito.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 3:27pm

I don't have to have an opinion about Martin to know for a fact that it is utter and complete stupidity for a highly paid manager to instruct an employee with Incognito's track record to "toughen up" another employee. If reports are true that Ireland told Martin's agent, when the agent called to complain about Incognito's behavior, that Martin should fight Incognito, well, the world's dumbest manager making a 7 figure salary has now been located.

by Noah Arkadia :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 4:39pm

I quite like the piece on Grantland. At first I thought what happened with Martin was very effed up, but now I see that yes, it's very effed up... but it's effed up everywhere.

I also very much like Ricky William's take on it, as he feels he was in a similar position: a sensitive guy in a culture of thugs. Not gonna work, but you can't blame the environment. It is what it is.

The man with no sig

by Will Allen :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 5:03pm

No, every NFL GM is not stupid enough, when a player's agent calls to complain about a conflict between the client and another player, to tell the agent that his client should commit a criminal act as a strategy for dealing with the issue.

by Noah Arkadia :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 7:00pm

He shouldn't have said it, but it wouldn't have changed anything. In this particular environment, you either hold your own against your opponents, teammates, journalists and whomever, or you get out. You can't expect management to protect you as in other professions.

I suspect the army works the same way. I imagine if you tell the sarge somebody's been bullying you, he'll punch you in the mouth. Remember that movie, Full Metal Jacket? It was about this very thing. The recruit commits suicide in the end, but he was drafted. He had no choice.

The man with no sig

by tuluse :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 7:09pm

Full Metal Jacket is about Marines. They aren't drafted.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 7:14pm

Marines began being drafted in WWII, and continued to be until the draft was ended. That doesn't really have much to do with this matter, however.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 7:15pm

No, the Army does not work that way. I have a relative in Arlington who, before being killed in action, made a point of supporting the account of a fellow soldier who complained of being hazed. Yeah, he caught some sh*t, but eventually the matter was investigated, the perpetrators punished, and my relative promoted. Yes, sometimes wrongdoing is sometimes kicked under the rug, but it is simply inaccurate to claim that it always works that way.

In this matter, it isn't going to work that way, because it is quite likely that Martin is going to get a 7 to 8 figure settlement, and the GM and coach are going to lose their jobs. There is no NFL exception to the laws of the United States or the State of Florida.

by tuluse :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 7:25pm

I remembered reading some articles about the US Army starting to take inter-personal problems seriously and dealing with them in constructive manner because telling people to man up and deal with it is not actually helpful in many situations.

by morganja :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 7:41pm

Especially when they have weapons in a war zone.

by morganja :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 7:42pm

I strained myself to get this. I hope you appreciate it. If not, Jeff Ireland told me to punch you in the face.


by Jerry :: Fri, 11/08/2013 - 9:16am

Strained so hard the reply is the wrong place? (Does that qualify as hazing?)


by Noah Arkadia :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 9:58pm

That's a good point about there being no exceptions to the law. Martin does seem to have a pretty good case, at first sight. It'll be interesting to follow and it could have unexpected repercussions across the sports world.

Also, I'm sorry about your relative.

The man with no sig

by usernaim250 :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 8:47pm

Well, this may how it works on bad teams with no character. But what we hear about locker rooms for teams that have sustained success--Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New England, Bill Walsh 49ers, Marty Schottenheimer's KC, Dungy's Tampa and Indy--serious hazing doesn't happen, veterans are sensitive about pushing too far, and rookies are allowed to concentrate on the football skills and knowledge they need to succeed rather than some misplaced notion of masculinity.

by Crunch (not verified) :: Fri, 11/08/2013 - 9:53am

The sad thing Noah, is that Martin held his own against all of those groups except his teammates.

Let me put it this way. All of this blame the victim BS hinges on one thing. When Martin snapped and couldn't take it any more he walked away from the fight and contacted the authorities rather than assaulting his abuser.

That's not weakness, it's good parenting.

by morganja :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 5:43pm

Grantland article was spot on, especially the part about what it means to be a man.

by Jerry :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 7:32pm

Link? (He asked lazily.)

by johonny (not verified) :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 9:29pm

For the record after his screening question of asking prospective players if their mom was a whore I thought he cemented this. For the record if I ask someone interviewing for a job that question... why is Ireland still employed? I forgot his incredible winning record. Stephen Ross worse owner in Football. Fins up!

by pavao13 :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 1:49pm

Tannehill and Hartline came out and directly stated that Incognito was Martin's closest friend on the team. They also said that the "racist" text from Incognito was actually something that Martin laughed about in the locker room.

by usernaim250 :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 2:40pm

Just imagine for a second that Martin was bothered by Incognito's message. He brought it to the locker room and played it for someone he trusted, or several teammates. He's hoping they say, "yo, that's fucked up, we're going to say something to Richie." Instead they say "ha ha ha that's so funny." Now Martin knows he has no support. So he laughs it off.

It seems a lot of people commenting on this situation haven't figured out that a common response to someone being an asshole is for another person to laugh it off. They may hate your guts, but they laugh it off because it's not worth it or too painful to confront.

Now, after a year and half, maybe you can't laugh it off any more.

by usernaim250 :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 2:46pm

Just a reminder when we think about "good natured" and "thin skinned"

What we know about Incognito: he has been reprimanded for a) intimidating Dolphins staff, b) attacking a walk-on at Nebraska and multiple other teammates, c) trying to intimidate opponents on the field by going at their knees, using the N word, spitting. He may think that his treatment of Martin was all in good fun, but that's not really his call, is it?

What we know about Martin: a) he made it through to the highest level of football, presumably without somehow bypassing locker rooms and b) excelled under the current poster child for "tough guy" coaches--Jim Harbaugh at Stanford (plus David Shaw, Pep Hamilton, etc.)

by Will Allen :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 3:32pm

Incognito is a violent, no hyperbole, criminal. It is astounding that Dolphins' management told a guy with this track record to "toughen up" another employee, no matter how much progress they thought Incognito had made. It is hard to be this stupid without deliberately trying.

by morganja :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 3:20pm

If the Miami Dolphins were a division in my company, there would be no choice except to blow it up, fire everyone and start over. When a culture becomes that toxic, there's no half-measures or fiddling that will work.
Clearly the Dolphin coaches and management think it's something they can just ride out. The players that have bought into the system or too stupid to shut up and think for a moment.
I can't imagine how stupid Tannehill must be to think it s a good idea to say he thought Martin and Incognito were best friends. Surely at some point even the densest clod might consider that perhaps they aren't best friends and wonder what he has been apparently missing.
Do they not have a single leader on that team that can pull these guys aside before they say anything else incriminatingly stupid?
I know this will get smoothed over to some degree, but there will be consequences here, and I don't think the Dolphins have figured that out yet. It's the NFL brand that's the issue now.

by Crunch (not verified) :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 3:36pm

Given that

A) There's tape and documentary evidence of the harassment.
B) There's evidence that the coach directed the harassment.
C) When Martin's representatives contacted management they were directed to tell Martin to break the law by assaulting his harasser and no other action was taken.
D) Plenty of the Dolphins current employees are currently making absolutely sure that Martin knows he's not welcome back.

I suspect that the mimimum finding for Martin in the harassment case would be projected lifetime earnings as a first round draft pick Left Tackls and the max would tack punitive damages onto that.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 3:39pm

Christ on a Crutch, if I knew defendants with very deep pockets were going to be this stupid, I would have decided to become a litigator when I was 22.

by usernaim250 :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 8:56pm

Yeah, it's pretty funny to think about the fact that Florida law entitles him to treble damages. Sometimes there really is a tax on stupidity. But at least Miami fans will be free of Ireland.

by johonny (not verified) :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 9:19pm

He was a 2nd round pick.

by usernaim250 :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 9:17pm

I think at this point the management realize that they might stand a ghost of a chance if they maintain the wall of silence but that most likely they are up the creek without a paddle.

Some of the players I think are similarly cynical about protecting themselves. Others, like QB1, are just manipulated naifs.

Obviously, the players have less at stake here. Whichever coach gave the order to toughen Martin up--presumably the O-Line coach--is likely to get suspended from the NFL and I doubt a college would touch him. Ireland too is likely to be terminated with cause and suspended from the league, even though I'm sure many of his peers would have said the same thing.

The thing about Ireland and Incognito is that whatever degree of innocence a normal guy would be able to claim, their past actions dictate that they wouldn't get a real fair shake on this even if they did have a leg to stand on. But that's why they say Karma's a b-----.

by morganja :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 9:53pm

I understand Rutgers needs a new athletic director and coach.

by johonny (not verified) :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 9:23pm

I've been a Dolphins fan for 30+ years. I seriously am like WTF is wrong with these people. At least they ahould be smart enough to say absolutely nothing in matters like this. Stephen Ross is a billionaire can't he afford one single attorney? This is so Victor Kiam, Zeke Mowatt and the end of the ugliest era of the Patriots.

by Dr. Bill :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 8:58pm

The Martin as Wimp/Incognito as thug binary isn't a very useful lens for analyzing this. It may be more fruitful to think of acculturation vs. hazing. Acculturation is legitimate, enforces cultural values through social judgement of members, applies to all members (even though novices may go through more bumps learning the culture), and is ultimately aimed at legitimate membership. Hazing is illegitimate, uses violence or threats, is applied unequally and involves power disparities, and is aimed at cementing power disparities.

The NFL really needs to look at the abundant, useful research on military hazing, if it wants to be able to make good policy and practice.

by Noah Arkadia :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 10:00pm

This is more like I would have liked to have said.

The man with no sig

by Will Allen :: Fri, 11/08/2013 - 1:36am

It has nothing to do with a "lens". Incognito has been convicted of criminal assault. A few months ago, he knocked out a hotel security guard. For a manager to tell an employee with this track record to "toughen up" another employee is so incomprehensibly stupid as to make one wonder if the manager has the cognitive capacity to grasp that he is part of a for profit enterprise. For Ireland to tell the latter employee's agent that the employee should fight the former employee makes one suspect that Ireland is secretly on Robert Kraft's payroll.

Actually, you may be on to something. These idiots may not understand that they are supposed to be running a business in return for their sizable salaries.

(edit) Oh, for the love of Melvin Belli, this is the guy the idiots in Dolphins management chose to assign a quasi-management role to, in order to "toughen up" Jonathon Martin.....


by Dr. Bill :: Fri, 11/08/2013 - 10:15am

Will, analytical lenses are useful for complex tasks, like trying to understand why hazing is so pervasive and durable in some settings (like the military or NFL), how to distinguish between hazing and legitimate social interactions like acculturation, making credible recommendations for policy to change things, etc.

We don't need an analytical lens do make a judgement like "Richie Incognito is likely a douche," but that's not really rocket science, is it?

by Will Allen :: Fri, 11/08/2013 - 12:36pm

Again, Richie Incognito is not merely a douche. He is a violent criminal. Apparently, it is rocket science to the management of the Miami Dolphins that, if they choose to employ a violent criminal, it is very unwise to place the violent criminal in a leadership position, absent years of evidence that he has reformed his ways. This guy has been assaulting people this year (!). Apparently, it is rocket science to the management of the Miami Dolphins that it borders on the insane to instruct the violent criminal, that you have chosen to employ, to "toughen up" another employee. Apparently , it is rocket science to the management of the Miami Dolphins that when the hired representative of the employee, who you thought should be toughened up by the violent criminal you chose to employ, calls, and complains about the behavior of the violent criminal, your response should not be to tell the representative to instruct his client to assault the violent criminal. Think about that. The management of the Miami Dolphins is unaware of the inadvisability of entering into a criminal conspiracy to have someone assaulted.

You literally can't make this up. Lenses are of no use to people without retinas and frontal lobes of their brains.

by Noah Arkadia :: Fri, 11/08/2013 - 10:46pm

Chad Ocho Cinco, among many other NFL players, is also a "violent criminal" by this standard. You're getting carried away. The NFL is full of convicted criminals. I don't really think this situation is that exceptional, except for the fact that it has been made public. Every now and then we hear of a player that quits a team. Well, I guess now we understand better why.

The man with no sig

by Will Allen :: Sat, 11/09/2013 - 12:14am

How is an accurate description of an individual "getting carried away"? If Ocho Cinco had been installed on to a "leadership council" and then instructed to "toughen up" another employee, and then, when that employee's representation registered a complaint, the team's management tried to enter into a conspiracy to have Ocho Cinco battered, then, yes that situation would comparable to this one.

This is being made public because it is a tap-in 7 or 8 figure legal settlement. If you don't think that is remarkable, I don't what to tell you.

by morganja :: Thu, 11/07/2013 - 10:30pm

The NFL has two problems here.
The first is that a significant portion of their market does not like this sort of behavior. They are enormously successful. They spend a lot of money on marketing campaigns to get us to like the players and convince us that we are rooting for basically good guys. To remain enormously successful they only have to avoid doing something stupid. Like creating the perception that NFL players are a bunch of reprehensible jerks that everyone should hate.
The second problem is that in order to remain successful in the long term the NFL requires kids to become fans and players when they are young. They already have parents not willing to risk concussions. Now we have to weigh whether their sons are going to be mercilessly bullied by some coach and his enforcer.