Ban Incognito From NFL — And Planet Earth
So now the bully, as vulgar and twisted as the species offers in sports, is pleading for mercy. Still immature and denial-consumed beyond plausible hope, Richie Incognito somehow is ignoring the 144-page, NFL-commissioned report on his pathetic life and turning directly to the device that has brought him trouble from the very beginning of his attacks on Jonathan Martin.
“Pleeeease Stop The Hate. Happy Valentines Day :),” Richie the Rogue wrote on Twitter.
I speak for a disgusted, exhausted nation in reponding thusly:
Pleeeease take your racist, homophobic and misogynist slurs — your vicious taunts about what you’re going to do to Martin’s mother and sister — and promptly leave the planet
Maybe Snooki needs a doofus for a reality TV show. Maybe Dana White can use him as a UFC thug. Fast-food places always are on the hunt for custodians. Whatever is next for this creep, he needs to go incognito, permanently, and never show his face around the NFL again. The mandate, at long last, is for this $10-billion-a-year league to demonstrate social accountability. They’re taking care of human brains these days, welcoming the first openly gay player. How can commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners take such landmark steps, then allow a sick puppy such as Incognito to remain within a franchise’s employ? As the report by independent investigator Ted Wells concludes, “With the recent announcement by MIchael Sam, a defensive lineman from the University of Missouri who is expected to be selected in the 1014 NFL draft, that he is gay, it is even more urgent that a tolerant atmosphere exist throughout the league. The frequent use of homophobic insults undermines this goal.”
In a relentless onslaught that pretty much hit every possible target on the abuse spectrum, Incognito became the ringleader of a Miami Dolphins locker-room wrecking crew that included two other offensive linemen, Mike Pouncey and John Jerry. Together, they turned Martin and others into daily targets for torment, believing this was an effective form of leadership and a way to toughen up Martin, the son of two Harvard graduates and product of an upper-middle-class upbringing who majored in classics at Stanford. What they did was turn Martin into a troubled young man, trying deperately to fit in with his rowdy, party-animal linemates but succumbing to suicidal thoughts and ultimately quitting the Dolphins after a cafeteria prank in October. He was taunted and ridiculed with every imaginable derogatory term — n-word, p-word, f-word, span the alphabet, even “stinky Pakistani” — and, one night, he snapped.
To this day, Incognito tries to pass off the behavior as fun-loving horseplay within an offensive-line brotherhood, claiming he and Martin have been great friends. A terrorist might have been a better friend. Incognito knew Martin had pondered suicide but obviously didn’t care about his well-being, writing in a notebook kept by the linemen — for Kangaroo Court-like fines — that he was successfully “breaking Jmart.” Incognito had no idea how broken Martin was. In periodic correspondence to his parents that he shared with Wells, Martin revealed the depth of his emotional wounds:
“I care about my legacy as a professional athlete. But I’m miserable currently. A therapist & medication won’t help me gain the respect of my teammates. I really don’t know what to do Mom.”
“People call me a Nigger to my face. Happened 2 days ago. And I laughed it off. Because I am too nice of a person. They say terrible things about my sister. I don’t do anything. I suppose it’s white private school conditioning, turning the other cheek.”
“I’m never gonna change. I got punked again today. Like a little bitch. And I never do anything about it. I was sobbing in a rented yacht bathroom earlier”
“I have really severe depression. There are many instances I can’t get out of bed. … I’m really embarrassed to talk about it with anyone in person, I tried to with you when I was home but I couldn’t. I’ve managed to keep it under control for the most part on my own. Anyways, I really do wanna take care of it, because it is debilitating & keeps me from reaching my potential in all facets of life.”
What’s so mind-boggling and reprehensible is that the Dolphins claim not to have known about Martin’s mental condition or the extent of the harassment by Incognito, Pouncey and Jerry. If coach Joe Philbin was that oblivious — and it should be noted that Philbin tragically lost a son just before he joined the Dolphins — he should not have his job. It’s clear in the Wells report that offensive line coach Jim Turner was in on the gags and, worse, tried to intimidate Martin via text messages to protect Incognito — “Do the right thing,” Turner wrote — when news of the scandal broke last fall. Said the report: “Around Christmas 2012, Coach Turner gave the offensive linemen gift bags that included a variety of stocking stuffers. The gifts included inflatable female dolls for all of the offensive linemen except Player A (an unnamed offensive lineman), who received a male `blow-up’ doll.” General manager Jeff Ireland, responsible for the culture within the franchise, was dismissed last month. How does Philbin keep his job? And shouldn’t owner Stephen Ross also be jackhammered for being an absentee owner, living in New York as a billionaire socialite while the Incognito clan was ruining his franchise?
At least the Dolphins can exhale about possible legal action by Martin. Though he stood to win triple his projected earnings in a harrassment suit, according to Florida law, Martin feels “vindicated” by the report, according to his agent, and wants to resume his career with another NFL team. Think Indianapolis, where the franchise quarterback, Andrew Luck, knows that Martin protected his blindside at Stanford. Think San Francisco, where Martin was recruited and coached by Jim Harbaugh. He is young, versatile and talented. Someone should take a chance on him, now that the Incognito menace is gone. “He feels a great sense of relief,” said his agent, Ken Zuckerman, per the Associated Press. “Jonathan Martin is a great man and he’s only shown me that he is very honest since the day I met him. He loves football and is eager to get back on the field, regardless of what team he plays for.”
Somehow, Incognito’s attorney clings to the warped belief that his client’s abuse was in the context of friendship and team unity. Saying the Wells report was filled with inaccuracies, Mark Schamel contends Martin “was never bullied by Richie Incognito or any member of the Dolphisn’ offensive line.”
If this wasn’t bullying, what would bullying constitute, exactly? Schamel should explain this Incognito beauty, a text to Martin: “Hey, wassup, you half-(n-word) piece of shit. I saw you on Twitter, you been training 10 weeks. I’ll (bleep) in your (bleepin’) mouth. I’m gonna slap your (bleepin’) mouth, I’m gonna slap your real mother across the face. (Bleep) you, you’re still a rookie. I’ll kill you.”
There are dozens of similar tweets and e-mails
And those are merely the ones Martin kept.
In desperation mode, Incognito has released some of Martin’s replies. Yes, they are troubling and riddled with the same crude language, but as Wells concludes, Martin wrote them as someone trying to fit in with the boys.
We are lucky Martin didn’t follow up on his suicidal thoughts. Many bullying victims do.
No one is asking NFL players to carry briefcases to the locker room. Football teams bond in ways the common worker can’t grasp. That said, the NFL is a high-profile workplace where any employee must be granted an environment conducive to success. Jonathan Martin never had that chance in Miami.
Wrote Wells: “As all must surely recognize, the NFL is not an ordinary workplace. Professional football is a rough, contact sport played by men of exceptional size, speed, strength and athleticism. But even the largest, strongest and fleetest person may be driven to despair by bullying, taunting and constant insults. We encourage the creation of new workplace conduct rules and guidelines that will help ensure that players respect each other as professionals and people.”
Bullied as a kid, Richie Incognito decided his best revenge was to bully others as a big, fat, bawdy football player. He walks away from public life in disgrace, with sand kicked in his face.
May someone bleep in his mouth.