Embattled Miami Dolphin Guard Richie Incognito has broken his silence, telling his side of the Jonathan Martin story that broke last Sunday. Denying charges that he is a racist and a bully, Incognito insisted during the television interview that he is blameless for Martin’s leaving the team.
Offering proof of his lack of responsibility, Incognito shared text messages sent by Martin to Incognito three days after leaving the team – text messages that congratulated him on the Miami Dolphins win. In another, Martin explains that he left the team because the “culture around football and the locker room” had started to affect him.
Incognito claims that he saw no signs that the Miami Dolphin locker room or football culture was affecting Martin negatively, and insists that he was Martin’s number one supporter, adding that the entire team would back him up on this claim.
Regarding the racially-charged and threatening voicemail that was made public last Sunday in which Incognito calls Martin, who is bi-racial, a “half- (N-word)” and threatens to kill him, Incognito tells his side of the story, explaining that the message is typical of the way the Miami Dolphins offensive line communicates with each other. Although he claims to be embarrassed by the voicemail, he does not apologize because the public is not privy to the way that Martin and Incognito speak to each other privately.
He goes on to claim that he is not a “racist. And to judge me by that one word is wrong,” saying that the N-word is used on a regular basis in the Miami Dolphin locker room, even by Martin himself. Incognito also reiterates that the voicemail was “a joke,” and that his “actions were coming from a place of love.”
Incognito acknowledges that he has had several questionable incidents throughout his career that have seemed to highlight a trend toward racism and bullying. A video circulated last week shows Incognito walking wildly around a pool table without a shirt, swearing and using the N-word while speaking about a teammate who was present in the bar.
As a college freshman in Nebraska, he was known for picking fights and harassing fellow players, one time running hard and straight out of the blue into a teammate, knocking him to the ground. In 2009, NFL players were polled by The Sporting News, and Incognito was named the dirtiest player in the league. His stint with the St. Louis Rams included the levying of a $25,000.00 fine for verbally harassing an official, and ended that same year after a sideline argument with head coach Steve Spagnuolo.
His behavior off the playing field hasn’t been exactly stellar, either. Last year, Incognito was the focus of an investigation after a volunteer working at the Miami Dolphins’ yearly golf event reported that he had taken his golf club and rubbed it over her body. To cap that off, he proceeded to grind against her while shouting, “Let it rain! Let it rain!” referring to the action of strip club patrons “raining” down money on dancers. After Incognito was through dancing, he finished by emptying a bottle of water on her face.
Incognito concludes the telling of his side of the story by saying that if he were to encounter former Miami Dolphin Jonathan Martin, he would give him a “big hug.” He also says that he would question Martin’s going public with his concerns instead of going straight to Incognito, saying that if Martin had only spoken up to him about the hurt he was feeling, he would have apologized to both Martin and his family. The apology offered is not, however, a mea culpa offered for his threatening email and for his alleged bullying, but because his family “took it as malicious,” a sign that Incognito is still not owning up to his behavior, instead blaming Martin for the trouble in which he finds himself.
By Jennifer Pfalz