Richie Incognito could have been following orders from Miami Dolphins coaches when he went too far and allegedly harassed teammate Jonathan Martin, reports the New York Daily News.
In a new twist to the story Tuesday, at least two sources told Florida’s Sun Sentinel that Incognito was asked by unspecified coaches to “toughen up” Martin after Martin missed a voluntary workout last spring.
If true, the revelation would further bring into question the role of head coach Joe Philbin and his staff in Martin’s departure from the team with emotional issues after he was allegedly subjected to constant bullying from Incognito, the leader of the Dolphins’ offensive line.
“I’m just trying to weather the storm right now. This will pass,” the suspended Incognito told WSVN-TV outside a doctor’s office Tuesday.
With the NFL’s investigation pending, ESPN reported that Martin never approached Philbin to voice his concerns before leaving the team. Philbin has maintained that he was unaware of the interactions between Incognito and Martin.
And while Incognito was said to be “done” as a Dolphin, according to a high level team source quoted by the Miami Herald, there was a feeling in some corners of the testosterone-fueled NFL that Martin had broken some sort of unwritten fraternal code when he took things public.
“They talk about teams being a family,” former Ravens DT and current CBS commentator Tony Siragusa said on ESPN Radio. “When you’re in the locker room, that’s like your home. . . . Things are handled in there and said in there that shouldn’t be brought out to the media. I think he should have confronted Incognito . . . and said ‘What’s your problem?’ ”
Giants safety Antrel Rolle took even more of a blame-the-victim approach during his weekly spot on WFAN. “Richie Incognito, is he wrong? Absolutely,” Rolle said. “But I think the other guy is just as much to blame because he’s allowed it to happen.
“You know, at this level, you’re a man. You’re not a little boy. You’re not a freshman in college. So I think everything has its limits. Hopefully he’s able to bounce back and recover from all that has happened and understand it, and take awareness of, you know, that you’re a grown-ass man. You need to stand up for yourself.”
Washington linebacker London Fletcher, meanwhile, points a finger at team leaders who didn’t step up and address the situation.
“The players first and foremost need to control their locker room,” Fletcher said. “Your veteran guys…that’s what I’m mostly disappointed in.
“There was not a guy on that team that stepped in and stood up for that young man.”
Fletcher’s teammate Brian Orakpo said he would’ve handled Incognito a bit differently than Martin.
“I wish it was me. I would have busted him in his mouth, to be honest with you,” he told NFL AM Tuesday morning. “But at the end of the day, those guys have to be smart. You really don’t know who you’re messing with. I don’t know. I feel like we don’t have characters like that in our locker room, man, and I think it’s kinda ridiculous. I’m kinda getting upset thinking about it.”