If you listen to NFL analyst who have played the game then Dolphins guard Richie Incognito has played his last game in the NFL.
“He’s done,” NFL Network analyst Jamie Dukes said. “Nobody’s bringing that element into their locker room. They’re just not.
“If it was Adrian Peterson, he might have a shot. But with his baggage and limited abilities, no way.”
Offensive tackle Jonathan Martin left the team last Monday, upset over his treatment by fellow players. Multiple media outlets have since reported that Incognito has been harassing and intimidating Martin, often using racial epithets.
Former New York Giants coach Jim Fassel said he could see circumstances under which Martin could return, but not Incognito. And Fassel said other players who embarrassed Martin also should be disciplined.
“He’s gone,” Fassel said of Incognito. “And the hammer comes down on the rest of those guys. Then I want to see a true, true apology.
“If the whole thing is handled right, it could bring those guys together as a team going forward.”
CBS analyst Solomon Wilcots said Incognito’s strong personality makes it unlikely an owner or team would gamble on him.
“He’s flamed out on his second team. So what team is going to say, ‘We’ve got a rookie tackle we want you to mentor?’
“But in this league, there aren’t a whole lot of linemen out there, and some team might say it’s got a strong locker room with a lot of leadership, and might take the chance. So I would never say it definitely won’t happen.”
Cornerback Brent Grimes insisted that the Dolphins have plenty of leaders who could police the locker room, though several of those he mentioned are, like quarterback Ryan Tannehill, new to the team or very young.
“You’ve got a bunch of leaders,” Grimes said. “It’s just situations. I look at myself as a leader. Reshad (Jones) can be a leader at times. Dannell (Ellerbe) can be as a middle linebacker. The quarterback, of course. It’s not just one person. We have a good locker room, and I’ve been in other locker rooms.”
Coaches sometimes have less knowledge of what goes on in the locker room than outsiders might think.
“It’s always been a players domain,” Wilcots said. “Coaches do not even go through there. They send someone in to get a player before they’ll go there. So they don’t know any intimate details of what goes on.”
Players-only meetings are one place where grievances can be aired. Fassel said that when he was with the Giants, he leaned on leaders such as Michael Strahan, Keith Hamilton and Tiki Barber to be his eyes and ears. And if, as has been reported about the Dolphins, veterans were pressuring young players to frequently pick up big restaurant or bar tabs, he wanted to know about it.
“You go to dinner, the rookies pay, I’m OK with that,” he said. “You order $500 bottles of wine, I’m not. It happens once or twice, I’m OK. It happens every week, I’m not.”
Dukes, a former NFL offensive lineman, said he expects such hazing, which has been taken for granted for decades, to soon become a thing of the past.
“(Commissioner) Roger Goodell might come along and impose the same kind of rules as they have in the private sector,” Dukes said. “When people can’t control themselves, they’ll put in rules to make sure they do.”