MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As the Miami Dolphins story has exploded into the national conscience over the past few days, people inside and outside of the sports world have taken sides. But when it comes to players and former players, most are taking the side of Richie Incognito.
Former Dolphins offensive lineman Lydon Murtha wrote a column for Monday Morning Quarterback/SI.com Thursday detailing what he saw while he was with the Dolphins last year.
“Martin did not seem to be one of the group,” Murtha wrote. “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 of grown-ass men. We all asked the same question: Why won’t he be open with us?”
Murtha said Martin balked at the tradition of a rookie paying for a meal for his position group. He also said martin would “tank when things would get difficult in practice, and Incognito would lift him up…Richie has been more kind to Martin than any other player.”
According to Murtha, Incognito would give “crap to Martin” but that it was no worse than what any other players gave each other. Murtha said he doesn’t think Incognito bully Martin, but when Incognito was told by coaches to bring Martin out of his shell, “that’s where Incognito ran into a problem.”
Murtha wrote that Incognito reached out to Martin and contacted him after the so-called final straw lunchroom incident and Jonathan told him his departure was not about that and instead about something else.
Murtha also expressed a growing sentiment among players that Incognito has been made the scapegoat by the Dolphins organization which denied knowing anything was going on, “That’s the most outlandish lie of this whole thing.”
Murtha’s article came less than 24 hours after multiple Dolphins players talked to the media and came to the defense of Incognito.
“It’s really a surprise. The whole thing is kind of mind blowing to me and it’s kind of mind blowing to most of the guys on the team right now,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “All I know about Richie (Incognito) is that he was a great teammate to me, I saw him being a great teammate all the time. Does he like to give guys a hard time? Yes. Does he like to pester guys and have fun? Yes. He brought a lot of laughter to this locker room, he brought a lot of cohesiveness to this locker room and he was the best teammate that I could ask for.”
Tannehill continued saying Martin looked more like Incognito’s “little brother” than anything.
“The situation, I wasn’t sitting at the table but the whole situation that everyone knows about now, where they stand up just as a joke, they’ve played it on me before. I’ve had the same several times played on me,” Tannehill said. “Right when he was about to come up, Richie (Incognito) said ‘Jonathan is like my little brother,’ and I think that’s an accurate depiction. He gave him a hard time, he messed with him, but he was the first one there to have his back in any situation and it’s a big surprise what’s going on.”
Wide receiver Brian Hartline said Martin was passing around the voicemail that Incognito left containing a racial slur to let other teammates in the locker room and everyone involved was laughing at it.
Defensive tackle Randy Starks said job number one is to clear Incognito: “He’s had a bad rep. He’s a good guy. Never a problem. He’s not a racist,” Starks told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Fellow offensive tackle Tyson Clabo took aim at Martin and questioned why he even chose to take this route with the incident. “If Jonathan Martin had a problem, you say, ‘Hey, I have a problem with this.’ Stand up and be a man. I don’t think what happened was necessary,” Clabo told the Sun-Sentinel.
Former Miami Dolphins quarterback Sage Rosenfels took to Twitter Thursdya to express his disdain for the situation and Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland.
The fiery comments and defense of Incognito came after the team had originally been told earlier in the week to “defer questions about the situation to Coach Philbin,” according to SI.com. But, according to the New York Post, players decided Wednesday to “defend ourselves.”
The story has taken multiple twists and turns since it broke wide open on Sunday, and no one knows where it will go next. Both players could be released, coaches could be fired, other staff could be fired, but the ending of this story is completely unknown at this point.