Consider for a moment the term “incognito.” The word itself is associated with several terms. A person who is incognito is undercover. They are secretive and have something that they do not want exposed. The movie image of a secret agent or the Phantom of the Opera makes one think of this term.
Right about now, the National Football League is probably wishing it could be incognito from negative attention. Though it is the top sport in the viewing world today, it is not without its blemishes. The offseason was dominated by concussion lawsuits and offseason arrests. Now, Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito have put the league in a negative light again.
Last week, Jonathan Martin walked out on the Miami Dolphins. He gathered some things and headed back to California. It left the team in shock, wondering what the heck had happened. After all, he was a starter on their offensive line. It did not take long for the reason to make it to the airwaves. Martin insisted that he left the team because of bullying.
Though later statements multiple people were involved, the crux of the blame was thrust on the shoulders of Richie Incognito. For those who have followed the career of Incognito, it sure has been a chequered one. While he is thought of as a good offensive line, his temper has often gotten the best of him. He has had fights on the field, ripped off helmets, and been involved in other troubles on the field.
In college, Incognito spent a good deal of time in the coach’s doghouse. He was accused of bullying a player his freshman year, and missed a game due to a fight the week before in a game. He was suspended twice at Nebraska, which caused him to transfer to Oregon. He did not last a week there before the Ducks’ coaching staff let him go.
After leaving the St. Louis Rams, Incognito stayed relatively low profile. That was until this past week. In the social media world, anything can be saved, and that is what happened in Incognito’s case. Martin’s attorney produced a message that Incognito left on Martin’s phone. In it, Incognito called Martin the N word, threatening to slap his mother, and assorted other unkind things. Suddenly, there was a smoking gun pointing right at Richie Incognito.
Ah, but what one person can do, so might the other. Incognito went on the Fox pregame show this weekend in an interview with Jay Glazer. In that interview, Incognito seemed mystified at what happened. He said the two were like brothers, though he did admit to leaving the message. He also had no qualms talking about the locker room and the relationship between the offensive line. Their language and conversations were described as vulgar.
What threw things for a loop was when Incognito mentioned that he and Martin have exchanged over 1000 text messages while on the team. Martin sent him a pic that intimated killing a member of Incognito’s family. Martin also, four days after, sent Incognito a text not blaming him for his departure, but rather the culture of football.
Anyone who has been in a locker room knows that lots of colorful things are said. What one has to wonder now is just what the real story is. Why does a man leave his teammates, calling players bullies, but then send a text shortly after blaming the locker room culture, not Richie Incognito? It leaves a big disconnect, and makes it seem like there might be another issue involved, besides bullying.