Context is the key word here. Incognito has been around long enough for many on this team to know his antics and even the coaching staff got a full season to assess his demeanor, especially in the locker room. Their response:…..Assign RI to "toughen up" the kid. It seems even the staff believed that Martin could use a "grittier" attitude. A comment in one posting mentioned RI as a guy "who does not have a great filter telling him what is out of line." I could not agree more, but it is becoming obvious now that the staff believed RI was the best guy to mentor him or "toughen him (JM) up"
I would appeal to every Dolphin fan here with memories of OL’s in our past that were "soft" and frequently got pushed around in the run game and we all remember those times. If we honor our memories we would have wanted guys like RI on the team then and we would have wanted him FOR his "gritty" and "nasty" attitude on the OL. After all, all most of these comments about him being a "nasty" player were coming from those who had to oppose him on the line. I for one could not care less about how nasty opposing DL’s felt he was.
I also believe that fellow teammates who are speaking in his defense now (inc. RT), despite the club "Hush" order speaks volumes about this situation. For teammates to ignore a team order by speaking out in his defense tells me that they truly believe the media circus has this all wrong. I truly do not believe that any player in this locker room, regardless of their skin tone felt RI was a racist, and considering that there were enough players left on the team who had played with him before and spent countless hours in locker rooms and meetings, this matters.
Comments recently revealed by RT (in particular) and other teammates come to mind here.
Ryan Tannehill: "If you asked Jonathan Martin who his best friend is on this team two weeks ago, he’d say Richie Incognito." In reference to the prank that occurred before Martin left team, Tannehill says the team played the same prank on Tannehill multiple times. Why would RT lie about something like this.....for team unity ?
Hartline is outraged because he says Martin was passing the voice-mail around earlier in the year and laughing about it. Hartline insists that Incognito isn’t a racist. BH labels the question ridiculous and says he doesn’t even understand it.
Randy Starks: Incognito took Martin under his wings, was like a big brother to him.
Randy Starks on why they’re speaking up after initially being told not to talk:
"We (the entire team) want to clear Richie’s name."
The NFL’s own Richard Greer tweeted: What Ryan Tannehill said about Martin/Incognito jibes with what I’ve heard. I was told Incognito stuck up for Martin during camp fights.
When teammates speak, I pray that the NFL and the coaching staff are listening. Nobody knows the circumstances of this issue better than his teammates. They understand that (purely out of the nature of the NFL culture) there are bullies in EVERY NFL locker room, yet very few of them are perceived AS bullies, either by the staff or other teammates. This is evident here especially if the team DID ask RI to "toughen up" Martin.
True teammates always have one another's back and we should love a team that defends someone that they clearly feel is being "railroaded" by the media circus intent on finding a bully here. Hartline’s comments that teammates defied the hush order to speak out because of a need to "defend ourselves" speaks volumes here also. It tells me that despite the media circus bashing, the entire team feels that the public still knows very little about what really went on between them behind the scenes.
It appears to me that at least the staff felt RI was the best guy to mentor JM and from everything I’ve heard from teammates, this appears to have been the case. The reality here is that every rookie in the NFL has undergone these types of pranks and they are embedded in the culture of EVERY NFL team. RT himself eluded to the fact that he had experienced the very same pranks multiple times. When the smoke clears, I pray that RI will get a fair investigation that takes into account the reality that "bullying" is a established norm on most NFL teams (usually designed to toughen up players as Miami did) and can not be dealt with in the same way as other "bullying issues outside the NFL. No NFL player will respect a "rat" even IF he was being bullied by teammates.
Condemning or accusing RI for being a "bully" would be like handing out speeding tickets at a NASCAR track. If you must hate someone or something here, hate the NFL culture, not the players who bought into it to earn the respect of their fellow teammates. RI has their respect unlike JM, and that matters to this fan. I do not believe that ANY NFL team will give JM a serious look after this. Most players will remember him as simply "too soft" for the game and as a teammate than could never be trusted for the way he handled this situation.
The circus has come to town, and while some are assessing RI's guilt by his unwillingness to speak about the issue, I would remind everyone here that an innocent man often feels that the truth (once it comes out) will set him free. How RI is handled here will have an effect on this team for the rest of the season.
I for one hope it’s an effect that the whole team can rally around.
GO PHINS !