Fins Suspend Incognito Amidst Reports Of Racism And Threats
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The situation surrounding Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin took an ugly turn overnight Sunday and into Monday morning.
The Dolphins suspended left guard Richie Incognito indefinitely for “conduct detrimental to the team in connection to allegations of harassment and bullying teammate Jonathan Martin.”
“We believe in maintaining a culture of respect for one another,” the Dolphins said in a statement released shortly before midnight, “and as a result we believe this decision is in the best interest of the organization at this time. … We will continue to work with the league on this matter.”
CBSSports.com’s Jason LaCanfora reported late Monday morning the texts that Martin turned over to the FIns included ones in which Incognito called him a “half-n*****.” Martin is biracial.
Incognito also allegedly made reference to tracking down members of Martin’s family and harming them in the texts as well, according to LaCanfora.
The CBSSports.com report said Martin, “truly felt that Incognito might be capable of inflicting harm, and for his safety getting away from the team was in his best interests.”
The Dolphins are likely to rid themselves of Incognito soon, according to CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald.
“He’s done,” a ranking club source told the Herald’s Armando Salguero. “There are procedures in place and everyone wants to be fair. The NFL is involved. But from a club perspective, he’ll never play another game here.”
Monday’s reports capped off a bizarre 24 hours that started with the Dolphins issuing a statement Sunday morning claiming they had not been told by Martin or his representatives of any specific charges of bullying/harassment.
Incognito took to Twitter Sunday morning to forcefully deny his part in the constantly changing incident and he lashed out at ESPN reporter Adam Schefter and ESPN for mentioning his name in connection with the Martin situation.
As Sunday wore on, details continued to trickle out about what the Dolphins knew and when they knew it regarding Martin, Incognito, and harassment allegations. Early reports said text messages and voicemails existed, but until 4:30 p.m. Sunday, the Fins said nothing had been reported to the team.
A little after 4:30 p.m., the Dolphins issued a statement saying Martin had come to the team with allegations of harassment and the team was launching an investigation and asking the NFL to launch an independent investigation as well.
As the day went on, CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald’s Adam Beasley revealed that there was a growing rift in the locker room over rookies being asked to pay for lavish spending by veteran players this season.
Then just before midnight Monday, the Dolphins officially announced the indefinite suspension of Incognito. The suspension gives credence to the reports of harassment and brings Incognito’s character into question once again.
Earlier this year, Incognito was involved in an incident on South Beach that ended up with punches allegedly being thrown, but the offensive guard was not charged with any crime and the incident went away quickly.
Incognito is no stranger to character issues on and off the field. Since 2008, Incognito has been fined $95,000 by the NFL for a late hit, verbal or other non-physical offense against an official, face mask, chop blocks, and striking/kicking, kneeing, according to spotrac.com.
However, Incognito has only been fined once since joining the Dolphins and that was in November 2012, a $10,000 fine for a late hit.
The offensive guard was at one time considered the dirtiest player in the NFL. It’s a reputation that Incognito hasn’t run from, but has tried to battle recently. Earlier this season said he doesn’t care what others think of him.
“I’m not really concerned with what other teams think. I’m really concerned with what guys on my team think,” Incognito told NFL Media’s Andrew Siciliano. They’ve seen the growth. They’ve seen me come in as this physical, aggressive, nasty player, who quite frankly, at one point in my career, was dirty. But I think they’ve seen the growth; I think they’ve seen the improvement.”
The growth was so evident to many in the Dolphins coaching staff that he won frequent praise for his leadership, and this year he was voted by teammates to serve as a member of the Dolphins’ player council.
Ex-NFL general manager Scott Pioli said this about Incognito Sunday night, “If he’s a leader in your locker room, then that’s a problem. I didn’t want him coming out (of college), and I don’t want him now.”
Incognito had behavioral problem in college and was kicked out of the University of Nebraska. He was at one time charged with three counts of assault after a fight at a party, was ejected from a game as a freshman for fighting, and was suspended at one point in the spring of 2003 for unspecified reasons, all according to USA Today.
The Dolphins (4-4), who beat Cincinnati on Thursday, next play at Tampa Bay on Nov. 11.
While the off-the-field issues continue to play out in a very public manner, on the field, the suspension leaves the Dolphins’ already troubled offensive line an even bigger mess.
With Martin and Incognito both out of the lineup, the Fins will be without a starting tackle and guard. Since the 2013 season started, the Fins have changed the left tackle, will be starting a new left guard now, and the team will be returning to right tackle Tyson Clabo who has given up the most sacks of any tackle in the league.
Overall, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been running for his life most of the season and is on a record pace of being sacked. Tannehill has been sacked 32 times through just half the season in 2013.