Assoc. Sports Editor
Earth to Richie Incognito: you’re not 12 anymore.
During the course of last weekend, there was news of the National Football League’s (NFL) Miami Dolphins allegedly going too far with their rookie hazing. ESPN’s Adam Shefter was working around the clock, and, with reports from the Miami Herald and Fox Sports, among others, investigation of the story has revealed a rather startling revelation: Incognito has been a ring leader in the extreme hazing and discrimination of the Dolphins’ African-American offensive lineman, Jonathan Martin, who has left the team indefinitely because of the incidents.
Rookie hazing is an age-old tradition in the NFL. Albeit childish, it is ubiquitous around the league, and rookies of all shapes, sizes and skill sets can expect to be left with a ridiculously expensive restaurant tab sooner or later during the year.
However, Incognito, who is known for his pugnacious antics on and off the field, has taken it way too far.
The most recent fact emerging from this case was a cuss- and derogatory term-filled voicemail left on Martin’s voicemail in April, 2013, just a year after being drafted, by Incognito. Warning: children may want to close their eyes – and English professors may want to skip ahead as well.
“Hey, wassup, you half n—– piece of s—,” he boldly began. “I saw you on Twitter, you been training 10 weeks. [I want to] s— in your f—ing mouth. [I’m going to] slap your f—ing mouth.” And it didn’t end there… “[I’m going to] slap your real mother across the face [laughter]. F— you, you’re still a rookie. I’ll kill you.”
Not only that, but outlets have reported that these vicious phone calls have been a common occurrence, including defamatory text messages and bullying in the locker room. These threats overwhelmed Martin – you know, the “half n—– piece of s—“ – and caused him to walk out of the Dolphins’ lunchroom, thus initiating his leave of absence.
This has been in the midst of the NFL’s investigation into these hazing incidents, which also included the following: leaving rookies to pick up a whopping $30,000 restaurant tab; asking them to pay for grocery bills, car payments and even mortgages; additionally, Martin was scared into handing over $15,000 towards a team-trip to Las Vegas, which he didn’t even participate in.
NFL.com’s Jeff Darlington divulged that Incognito had been suspended on Sunday by Miami, and “he’ll never play another game here,” according to an unnamed teammate interviewed by ESPN.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Incognito would remain, well, incognito, for the rest of his career and melt away into free agency after his contract is up at the end of 2013. Because, to be honest, Incognito has been more trouble than he’s worth.
The guard is no stranger to controversy, dating back to his (short-lived) college career at Nebraska.
Incognito was suspended twice in a two-year span with the Cornhuskers, and was convicted of a misdemeanor assault charge at a party in 2004. Then, Incognito carried his troublesome load over to Oregon.
One month later, he was forced to pack his bags again.
He was dismissed from the Ducks’ football program; however, in 2005 he was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the third round.
Let’s just say it didn’t take very long to solidify his role as one of the NFL’s bad boys. In 2009, he was voted by players as the “dirtiest player” in a poll conducted by Sporting News.
That same year, he was released by the Rams. After more scuffles resulting in hefty fines and suspensions between Incognito and other players, his career has now nosedived into this hazing mess.
The fact that this has been going on for months says something about the lack of authoritative leadership in the locker room, but, thankfully, investigative journalism has prevailed again in spotlighting injustice around the league, leading to the Dolphins’ higher-ups to lay the hammer down.
An announcement by the team, which followed the indefinite suspension of Incognito, read in part like this: “We believe in maintaining a culture of respect for one another and as a result we believe this decision is in the best interest of the organization at this time. As we noted earlier, we reached out to the NFL to conduct an objective and thorough review. We will continue to work with the league on this matter…”
Now we can only hope, since this cat has been let out of the bag, this kind of unfair, unnerving and immature bullying of rookies will finally be put to an end.
Unfortunately, I have my doubts.