The Miami Dolphins are currently caught up in a scandal about which no one really knows all the details, nor does anyone seem to know exactly what is happening. Tackle Jonathan Martin has left the team and alleged player misconduct stemming from how he was treated by guard Richie Incognito. Incognito is suspended. Owner Stephen Ross has asked the NFL to investigate the situation. And the rest of the players have remained quiet throughout the last week.
At least, they had remained quiet until yesterday. That all changed when players, including quarterback Ryan Tannehill, wide receiver Brian Hartline, and tackle Tyson Clabo, came out swinging, and all in support of Incognito
"[Incognito] treated [Martin] like a little brother," Clabo, who joined the team this year, told reporters yesterday. "They did a lot of stuff together, so if he had a problem with the way he was treating him, he had a funny way of showing it.
"I think," Clabo continued, "if you have a problem with somebody, a legitimate problem with somebody, you should say, 'Hey, I have a problem with this,' and stand up and be a man. I don't think what happened was necessary. You guys are trying to make it about locker room, and this 'secret code' that you guys want to make up or whatever.
"But I know why he's doing this, and the only person who knows why is Jonathan Martin."
Perhaps the biggest problem the players see right now is the lack of an warning from Martin. The media has portrayed the Dolphins as a team without leaders, a place where anything seems to go. Tannehill sees it the other way: Martin never seemed to have a problem until he left the team.
"I think if you would ask Jon Martin a week before who his best friend on the team was, he would say, Richie Incognito. The first guy to stand up for Jonathan when anything went down on the field, any kind of tussle, Richie was the first guy there. When they wanted to hang out outside of football, who was together, Richie and Jonathan."
Tannehill continued, saying the allegations from Martin caught him, and the whole team, off guard, describing it as "mind blowing."
Hartline, meaning, put it more succinctly, The people that can hurt you most are the ones closest to you and that's exactly what happened."
"Whenever I saw Jon and hung out with Jon it was usually with Richie because they were friends," Hartline continued. "I've seen pictures of them on the plane playing around. They were always playing around. The O-line as a group was a big family."
Cameron Wake, the All Pro defensive end for Miami, also weighed in, "I think more than anything what's been bothering me is kind of the things that you hear from outside this locker room about things that maybe undermine the integrity of the leadership or the type of players or class of guys we have here or the class of this organization. I've been here five years. Coach Philbin has done nothing but turn this organization in a positive direction from top to bottom, and to hear some things about what's not going on here or what is going on here, it's unfortunate, it's wrong, it's ridiculous and it's hard to hear. The whole situation's unfortunate but there's one thing that I do know and that is the type of guys we have around us are professional and they're well above aboard and it's sad to hear people try to say anything but that."
The damming evidence in this case right now, the voicemail which had a transcript leaked to the media and included Incognito calling Martin a "half-n*****," has been tossed around the media as a sign that Incognito was a racist, who was out to get Martin. However, the Dolphins players seem to not be bothered by Incognito using the racial term.
"That was my first time actually ever hearing him say something like that," Dolphins guard John Jerry explained, "so I don't take it the wrong way because I know him personally. It might rub off on some people a different way, but it doesn't rub off on me that way."
Pro Bowl defensive tackle Randy Starks was also asked about the racism demonstrated by Incognito in the voicemail. "He's a good guy," Starks responded. "I never had a problem with him. I haven't gotten that idea all these years."
Hartline also discussed the voicemail, and not in a way that was expected. "One, if I'm not mistaken, this was the same guy [Martin] who was laughing about the voicemail at one point in time," Hartline said. "Second of all, if you go through the whole voicemail there are some things said that you probably shouldn't say in general, friends or not friends. But with that being said I never thought it was a death threat. I never thought he was going to do the things he said. If you can't take validity from one part of the voicemail how can you take validity from the whole -- you can't pick and choose which parts count and which parts don't. In my mind I think it was something that was taken advantage of."
"What's perceived is Richie is this psychopath, racist, maniac, right?" tackle Clabo added. "And the reality is that Richie was a pretty good teammate, and that Richie and Jonathan Martin are friends, or appeared to be friends."
Dolphins reserve tackle Will Yeatman also weighed in on the situation, describing Martin and Incognito as very close, also pointing out that he was also very close with Martin.
The voicemail itself also took a twist on Wednesday. The Miami Herald's Armando Salguero added what seems to be some context to the message. Not only was the message passed around as Hartline said, a source tells Salguero that the transcript is not complete. From what he was told, Salguero writes:
There's another thing. According to a source close to Incognito, the transcript of the voice mail is not complete. It omits the last line.
After Incognito went on this apparent diatribe, his voice softens, and matter-of-factly he says, "Ok, call me back."
And ... Martin called him back, the source said.
"Being a leader on this team," Tannehill said when asked if he should have stopped the situatio," you want to step in and help anybody who's dealing with something. If I had any idea that this was an issue, that [Martin] was struggling, of course I would have constantly checked on him, ‘How are you doing? How are things going? Just making sure you're okay.' You can never judge another man for what they're going through. Everyone deals with something different in life and just to have no idea that this was even going on is tough for me because you can't help a situation that you didn't know existed, that no one on this team knew existed."
"I talked to him when he left. I called him, his phone was off. I texted him and said ‘Hey man I hope everything's ok, call me if you need anything,' this was the night that he left. He said, ‘I'm ok man, thanks.' After the game I texted him saying ‘Hey it wasn't the same without you out there', and he said ‘I miss being out there with you guys. Great win,' and some other stuff."
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