Posted November 06, 2013

Dolphins coaches reportedly asked Richie Incognito to toughen Jonathan Martin up

AFC East, Miami Dolphins
Richie Incognito (l.) May have been asked to harass Jonathan Martin by his own coaches.

Richie Incognito (left) may have been asked to harass Jonathan Martin by his own coaches. (Lynne Sladky/AP)

According to at least two team sources who have spoken to Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel, Miami Dolphins coaches told offensive guard Richie Incognito to “toughen up” teammate Jonathan Martin after Martin missed a voluntary workout in the spring. The team sources told the Sun Sentinel that Incognito, who has been suspended indefinitely after he was accused of using threatening and racially incendiary language against Martin, took the orders too far.

A team spokesperson declined comment when asked by the paper about the accusations, saying that the Dolphins are complying fully with the NFL’s current investigation into the team’s culture. In a voicemail to Martin, Incognito called Martin a “half-n—–,” threatened to kill him, and said that he would slap Martin’s mother across the face.

Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post wrote on Wednesday that he’s heard the same thing from team sources, adding that the idea was to bring Martin “into the circle.”

“[Dolphins center Mike] Pouncey and Incognito, they talk to each other that way — redneck, [n-word], it doesn’t bother the two of them. It’s how they communicate,” a source told Abramson. “They bond with one another.”

Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin, according to sources, told his veterans to “cut out” the rookie hazing, but he did not police what was going on between Incognito and Martin. Martin left the team last week after a lunchroom prank in which Martin was asked to join his linemates at the table, and his teammates then got up and left the table.

“In all my discussions with Jonathan and members of his family, at no time were there any accusations or allegations of misconduct by any members of this team or organization,” Philbin said on Monday. “Later on Sunday, we were contacted by one of his representatives where they in fact had some concerns over player conduct that had occurred. We immediately took those concerns very, very seriously … These players when they walk in this door they feel like they have the best medical care, the best strength and conditioning care, the best coaching, the best fields to practice on, the best technology and the best classrooms to learn in. That’s very important to me. I will tell you if the review shows that this is not a safe atmosphere, I will take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that it is. I have that obligation to the players that I coach on a daily basis, and I will do that. Any questions on that?”

There have been many, and if this report is true, there will be more than ever. Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports was recently told by a former Dolphins offensive lineman that the team’s coaches encouraged hazing, with the thought that it would toughen the players up.

Those coaches will of course say that they never expected things to escalate to this degree, but given Incognito’s history of aggressive behavior, they’ll have to take a lot of responsibility for this.

169 comments
jjbmdpa
jjbmdpa

If the assistant coaches and/or Philbin himself were involved with this foolish mess either explicitly or implicitly, they need to be fired along with the other miscreants in the locker room as well as in the executive suite.

Mech
Mech

I think the players know more about what happened in that locker room then anyone here. I am willing to let their opinions be mine because they know the facts and we do not. Right now most of the players are lining up behind Incognito and not Martin. Now I am not saying I condone hazing or that kind of talk but we do not know what went down between those guys. I think there is a lot more to this and the politically correct people ought to stfu.

Schmoogalicious
Schmoogalicious

Interesting how all the "teammates" and other players suggesting Martin should "be a man" are sticking up for a guy whose behavior bears a striking resemblance to that of a junior high school delinquent. 

ianlinross
ianlinross

The Generation Kill series had some pretty explicit and racial language that's used in the Marine Corps. Wonder if this is the same kind of thing?

GeneMartin
GeneMartin

Hey Philbin, as far as I'm concerned after your news conference today you are absolutely guilty of asking for Martin to be toughened up.

djp9
djp9

One of the major reasons I didn't go back to play for my college team after taking time off for monetary reasons was their history of hazing and what it entailed. Most of my friends were on the team and gave explicit details. Now, I am talking more than 20 years ago. In conversations with my son's former HS coach (my son is now playing college FB) who also went to my university several years after me, but started college in his early 20s, remembered it too. In his case however, being a man as a freshman instead of a boy, he refused and offered to go outside with anyone that took exception to his decision. No one did. As a coach now himself he has never allowed this to even be considered. 

To hear that coaches would consider this a method of toughening someone up is a mind set of ignorance. I actually have met plenty of men (and boys) who had incredible physical strength and toughness but could also be bent and broken with emotional bullying and peer pressure. One is not indicative of the other and as your math teacher would have said, these are mutually exclusive. These coaches have obviously confused the two. Mean and tough are NOT perfect synonyms. 

fafniro
fafniro

Let's wait until all the facts are in.

salvaje50
salvaje50

I also had no idea that telling a teammate that you will defecate in his mouth and slap his mother would "toughen him up" either.  Learn something new everyday.

salvaje50
salvaje50

So calling each other "ni--er" and "redneck" helps bond two teammates?  Damn, I had no idea.

JackWilliams
JackWilliams

While skill players in the NFL may love their job for reasons of glory and money, the grunt players in the trenches are largely anonymous if they perform their job decently. Except for the money, it is largely a thankless job that has long term adverse effects on personal health and safety. Keeping them motivated to sacrifice their bodies - and potentially injuring other players - must be as difficult as keeping otherwise peaceful soldiers motivated to keep killing other humans.  The tasks are not the same, but my point is that maintaining violent motivation in the trenches for the good of the organization often takes extremes of language and insults. Some people respond positively to negative reinforcement, while others do not.

JJRR
JJRR

Did you order the code RED?!!!

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

The coaches who suggested this need to be terminated with cause, right now. Today. They've disgraced the entire league.  It's offensive reading the comments from the neanderthals, hands on their 'man zone' no doubt, saying 'this is how men act', or 'it's a guy thing'. It is not. It is how juveniles act. It is how immature children act. And every responsible adult is disgusted with it. The league is becoming a laughingstock. And this is the time to take a real stand.

M20
M20

Here's your NFL. What a deranged, Neanderthal culture.

Heidi
Heidi

DID YOU ORDER THE CODE RED?!!!

Bahia
Bahia

match made in heaven or hell ... a bully and a sensitive guy.

me1
me1

I said this last week when Incognito was suspended...that was the first step. There is absolutely no way the coaching staff didn't know what was going on and condone it. If I was the owner, the entire staff would be relieved and we would forfeit the rest of the games. A team must act like a team.

rich426
rich426

Martin is a wuss.  This is why the youth these days is a bunch of coddled morons that can't handle adversity.  Their first reaction is to tattle or cry rather than deal with the problem head on and earn respect that comes with time.  This is an example of how times have changed and everybody is way too sensitive about everything.  


MidwestGolfFan
MidwestGolfFan

@Mech  

Of course, there's no conflict of interest there.  Given that the entire O-Line participated in the vicious "prank" that set this off:  Come sit with us, then get up and walk away.

They're all going to be totally honest.  Suuuuure.

NoCentKansas
NoCentKansas

@djp9 Agree "mean" describes how you treat others, "tough" how you expect yourself to respond to difficulties.

As a math teacher, I must challenge your understanding of "mutual exclusivity".  Strength, toughness, and many other physical/psychological characteristics certainly can and do simultaneously occupy any individual personality (in varying combination of dominant or recessive quantity) and thus are, by definition, NOT mutually exclusive.  The degree of independence between the traits within a personality falls in the domain of psychology – and no multivariant calculus yet exists to deal with it.

Not meaning to be pedantic, but your comment raised the topic, and stated it incorrectly.  I hope you take my comment as an elucidatory attempt, not a derogatory attack.


JosephLWilliams
JosephLWilliams

@djp9 I remember pledging for a fraternity in college and being a victim of hazing. One of the fraternity brothers(?) hit me with a paddle. Just once, because I told him that if he hit me again, it would be the LAST time he hit anyone. He did not hit me again. Later that year we became friends and I even let him borrow a suit of mine. Both of us were economically challenged and had to share what little we had. However, I never joined the fraternity, and while I recognize the positives of fraternity membership, I still have somewhat negative feeling towards fraternity that feel hazing/abuse is necessary to attract desirable members. I feel the opposite is true!

MidwestGolfFan
MidwestGolfFan

@djp9  

In a closed system, with a psycho-"leader" in charge, even the strongest, mentally toughest person can break.

Ironically, because he's trying to be a good team guy by knuckling under to fit in and not make trouble.  Which is the signal for monsters to "pile on."

NateFrawley
NateFrawley

@salvaje50 Old school Marine Drill Sergants used to say much worse to toughen soldiers up.

NoCentKansas
NoCentKansas

@salvaje50 We can't expect wimps indoctrinated in PCspeak to understand a great many aspects of communication – some of which transcend choice of vocabulary or nonverbal expression of attitude.  

In my experience, 'having no idea' is several steps down the ladder from making uniformed choices among a more or less varied choice of several available ideas.

Snow_Veil
Snow_Veil

@Rickapolis Well said. Stories like this, and some of the responses to them (just read some of these comments, oh my), go far in reminding us that there are still pervasive, fundamental issues in our culture regarding our treatment of each other. Actually rather disturbing seeing how some people can come up with utterly illogical, inapplicable 'justification' for this behavior and any and all arguments against it.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

@M20 Absolutely, M20. A disgrace. I used the same description in my comment before I saw yours. It's pathetic.

Looster
Looster

@Heidi You beat me to it too - I came to the comments section just to say that.

JJRR
JJRR

@Heidi damn. you beat me to it.  OH well, that jokes going to get made 50 times this week.  haha.

JosephLWilliams
JosephLWilliams

@Bahia A bully like Incognito should be careful...he may end up in "HELL" sooner than later!

JosephLWilliams
JosephLWilliams

@me1 Just like in politics, far too often, money talks and principles are left in the dust...or,  in this case,...on the turf.

rich426
rich426

@me1 This is why kids these days grow up unable to handle difficult situations.  People overreact to things they dont understand because of the media.  Richie Incognito was harsh but Martin really didn't fit into the team.  A team is built on trust and working with people you trust.  Honestly if i was fighting in the trenches or going against a defensive linemen trying to rip my qbs head off, I'd rather have Richie on my team than a wuss like Martin. 

JamesMartens
JamesMartens

@me1 Absolutely no way that the NFL would allow that and no way the organization would want to.  It is a business that wants to make money.  Talk about an unfair competitive advantage to the rest of the teams scheduled to play the dolphins....extra bye week with automatic win.

jcmass
jcmass

@rich426 You really think that in today's day and age that taking death threats seriously is being "way too sensitive"? How would you react if a co-worker threatened you physically, or threatened a member of your family? 


And hazing happens to be ILLEGAL!! NFL locker rooms are not exceptions under the law.  

MidwestGolfFan
MidwestGolfFan

@rich426  

You appear from nowhere, and make a few comments -- so far, just two -- virulently anti-Martin.

The Richie I. fan club, spamming-commenter division, in full swing!

NoCentKansas
NoCentKansas

@Snow_Veil @Rickapolis I'm not so much disturbed as disappointed when apparently educated people resort to distortion in order to promote their own control of how every one should speak or act.  

Your bullying by ridicule of anyone who might have an individual opinion is actually very little different than what occurs in locker rooms or jr hi hallways..

jcmass
jcmass

@rich426 @me1 So "harsh" is how you describe threats to a teammate's life? May I remind you that hazing and threats are not only the wrong way to build a team, they are also illegal. And coaches who tolerate such a workplace atmosphere are liable under the law. This IS going to end up in court, and the Dolphins and the NFL had better realize that just because this happens in a locker room or during training camp will NOT be an adequate defense before the law. 


It seems to me that it is the coaching staff's job to evaluate not only a player's physical condition, in deciding whether he can do his job, but also his psychological condition. Some may have the physical talent, but not the psychological ability. The answer is to either find ways of helping the player develop the ability to cope with the difficulty of playing in the NFL, or decide to find another player. It is NOT to allow bullying and hazing as ways of "toughening" up a player. The problem I have is that according to these same coaches evaluations, Martin was doing his job. So why the need to "toughen him up" or tolerate the hazing??


Now we may not know what EXACTLY what happened in this locker room, but the evidence of the texts and voicemails is pretty strong. Strong enough to indicate that laws were broken. 


Someone mentioned in an earlier comment that Tony Dungy banned all such practices as hazing, or other similar methods or approaches to building a team. And his teams were quite successful without any of that. 

danboz11
danboz11

@rich426 @me1 Here we have another brain dead person that is probably lucky to get his shoes tied in the morning.  He probably should just have to "deal" with racism.

rich426
rich426

@MidwestGolfFan @rich426 ha not really a richie i fanclub.  Just more anti-Martin and what our society is becoming.  Weak and overly sensitive.  Whatever happened to survival of the fittest.  Kids getting trophies for participating is just a prime example of everyone being forced to be liked and fit in.  Promotes weakness

MidwestGolfFan
MidwestGolfFan

@Mech @MidwestGolfFan @NateFrawley @salvaje50  

Your blitheness about those boot camp suicides is monstrous. Apparently, they don't count as human beings because they couldn't hack it at "the Island."

They were struggling to make it -- but were failing. Real leaders would have known it was hopeless, and weeded them out before they killed themselves.  Instead, screaming psychopaths in Smokey the Bear hats drove them to self-destruction, with the blessing of guys like you.  

Was it used as a morale-builder?  He was weak, he killed himself, and now that he's dead, this unit is stronger!? 

There were many good things about the "Old Corps."  The sociopathic brutality of you describe was not one of them.

Mech
Mech

@MidwestGolfFan @NateFrawley @salvaje50 As a retired combat decorated Marine I would tell you the suicide rate was not high, but,,,, I would rather lose them at the Island then lose ten more fine Marines in combat because that one man failed.

ianlinross
ianlinross

@MidwestGolfFan @NateFrawley @salvaje50 If the general public knew what goes on in a professional locker room, especially with 50-some Type A personalities on a roster, they would be shocked. On some teams, there's probably an Animal House mentality that's part of the culture. 

NoCentKansas
NoCentKansas

@danboz11 @rich426 @me1 Everything in my life that isn't pleasant and enjoyable should cease this very instant.  Damn, it must be nice to have a nostrum like "racism" to make none of it my own fault.  

So much easier shaping up my own behavior.

ak907guy
ak907guy

@rich426 @MidwestGolfFan Sparta and Athens ... which one survived?  "Survival of the fittest" applies to animals, not humans.  I'll take "overly" sensitive over lacking in sensitivity.  And, finally, I welcome a world where we are "forced" (?) to like people.  Certainly not thrilled with how you would suggest today's kids be "forced" to toughen up.

MidwestGolfFan
MidwestGolfFan

@rich426 @MidwestGolfFan  

Apples and oranges.

"Participation trophies" are bad.

What was Martin supposed to do?  Go to team leaders?  Incognito was one of them, officially appointed by management.  Go to the coaches?  They told Incognito to go after Martin.  He was trapped and he exploded.  That's neither cowardice nor weakness -- it's brutalization.


ArnoldNewman
ArnoldNewman

@rich426 @MidwestGolfFan "Whatever happened to survival of the fittest?"  Are you kidding?  You are suggesting that at some point that was promoted as a goal for human interaction?