MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – The Miami Dolphins lifted a suspension against offensive linemen Richie Incognito on Tuesday.
Incognito had been suspended since Nov. 3 after transcripts of text messages were leaked to the media and showed the guard using racist epithets and alleged threats towards his teammate, Jonathan Martin.
The player tweeted on Tuesday”I would to thank my family and friends for their continued love and support. It’s official #FREE #BIRD #FREEINCOGNITO @nfl @NFLPA.”
While Incognito’s Dolphins suspension was lifted, Miami officials say that was an administrative move agreed to by all parties some time ago, and had nothing to do with any new developments in the league investigation.
Text messages recently obtained by CBS4, showed the two players, possibly friends, talking right through Martin leaving the team.
The NFL’s report in the Miami Dolphins harassment case is expected to be released soon, shedding further light on the much-scrutinized, troubled relationship between the two.
The report will likely address whether the Dolphins organization was at fault for the locker-room culture that led Martin to leave the team last October. He later said he was harassed daily by teammates, including Incognito, and alleged that their racial, aggressive and sexually charged comments played a role in his departure.
Last week, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said he has an idea of what will be in the league’s report, and indicated he doesn’t expect any new revelations. He said he’s proud of the way the people running the franchise responded to the scandal.
Martin has said he tried to be friends with Incognito. The two players traded more than a thousand text messages in a year’s span, and the teasing and vulgar banter went both ways, with references to sex, drugs, violence and bawdy behavior, often in a jocular tone.
The NFL report will come from New York attorney Ted Wells three months after he was retained by the NFL to investigate the case, which inspired a national debate about hazing and workplace bullying.
Wells will determine the role of coach Joe Philbin, his staff and Miami management in the case. One issue is whether anyone on the coaching staff ordered Incognito to toughen up Martin, who became a starter as a rookie in 2012 but played poorly at times.
Martin has said people in the organization knew he was unhappy about comments teammates made to him, but he didn’t talk to Philbin about it.
The 6-foot-5, 312-pound Martin abruptly left the team Oct. 28. He was briefly hospitalized and then joined his family in California and underwent counseling for emotional issues. Incognito was suspended Nov. 3 and sat out the final eight games.
Both players have said they want to play in 2014, but it likely won’t be with the Dolphins. Incognitobecomes a free agent this winter and will probably sign with another team, and Dolphins are expected to trade or release Martin, who has two years remaining on his contract.
Teammates said the two linemen seemed to be good friends, despite their contrasting backgrounds. Martin, 24, was a classics major at Stanford, while Incognito, 30, was kicked off his team at Nebraska and went on to develop a reputation as one of the NFL’s dirtiest players known for out-of-bounds behavior.
Incognito has said he regrets racist and profane language he used with Martin, but said it stemmed from a culture of locker-room “brotherhood,” not bullying. Incognito is white and Martin is black.
Teammates both black and white have said Incognito is not a racist, and they’ve been more supportive of the veteran guard than they have of Martin.
In November there were reports that Ross might clean house after the season. But Philbin was retained to return for a third season in 2014, and most of his staff remains, including offensive line coach Jim Turner, who worked most closely with Incognito and Martin.
General manager Jeff Ireland left the Dolphins in January after six seasons because of the team’s mediocre results, and because he clashed with Philbin over personnel decisions.
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