The NFL doesn't need anymore bad publicity.
Whether you believe that it’s even possible for one grown man to bully another doesn’t change the fact that Miami’s Richie Incognito is a sucker. The fact that he’ll probably never play in the NFL again only annoys Nazis, skinheads, people who are fond of idiots and those that rooted for The Gooch to take little Arnold Jackson’s lunch money on Different Strokes.
Incognito—a self-proclaimed “ass-kicking machine”—seems like a menacing force, considering he was able to shake a 315-pound Jonathan Martin into quitting a pro football team.
But former Baltimore Ravens and NY Jets enforcer Bart Scott, a guest on ESPN radio’s Stephen A. Smith show on Monday, said Incognito is really a fake gangster.
Scott played in the NFL from 2002-2012 and says Incognito was known as a “coward,” and a grimy dude on the gridiron. The 6-3, 320-pound left guard was voted NFL’s dirtiest player in 2009 and came in second to Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in 2012. His filthy mouth and abusive tactics were known throughout the league. “But when I played, “ Scott said, “Incognito knew not to do that stuff with certain players.”
Scott also hinted that those tactics may have extended to steroid use. “Incognito was one of those fake tough guys that was known for having mood swings, if you know what I mean,” he told Smith and co-host Ryan Ruocco.
Mood swings and erratic fits of rage are consistent with the side effects of ‘roid use. If Incognito was still banging those old-school needles, that would explain a lot about his ultra-aggressive behavior.
“[When I played him while I was] on the Ravens, I just couldn’t take it anymore,” Scott revealed. “After the game, he tried to shake my hand and I swung at him…the coaches grabbed me… and he ran like the coward that he really is. … Like most bullies are when confronted by a real man, he didn’t want no parts of it.”
There are two glaring disappointments in this story, aside from the fact that Scott couldn't manage to cold clock this dude.
The first is how Martin punked out. Martin handled this situation like a whistleblower in school who wasn’t invited to the cool party so he told the administration about plans to use the student union to throw the mega bash.
Secondly, how the Miami franchise handled the situation from the jump. Not one veteran player came to Martin’s defense when reports of his mental torture first surfaced. Dolphins staff of all races, including cornerback Will Davis and receiver Mike Wallace, came to Incognito’s defense. “I love Richie. I think he’s a great guy,” Wallace said to NYPost.com.
Davis agreed with Wallace, even calling Incognito one of the most popular players in the locker room — acclaim supported by Incognito’s membership on the Dolphins’ six-player “leadership council” that is selected by a locker-room vote. “Richie’s a funny guy,” Davis said. “Everybody loves him.”
When the incident finally hit the fan, Dolphins Nation was singing a different tune. They ran like roaches with the lights on, pleading total ignorance to a situation that has spiraled out of control and become the NFL’s biggest news story.
If somebody would have told Incognito to lay off, then maybe this could have been avoided. Being a veteran leader is introducing the youngsters to the dopy traditions and rites of passage. But as Scott says, it’s also protecting players and helping their transition into NFL life, letting them know they have a friend.
“Once we recognized that Incognito was pouring it on and overstepping his limits with a player… we would have to get guys like that out of our locker room,” Scott continued. “ (At that point) He’s not one of us…somebody would have gone to the head coach… or just handled it (internally).”
As the facts are revealed, people are starting to focus more on the shifty environment within Miami’s locker room. Scott says hazing is a part of NFL culture, but not to this extreme.
“We would do stuff like put peanuts in the tank of their car or make the rookies pay for a couple of meals” Scott recalls. “Back in the days, the Saints used to have their rookies run through a line of players getting hit with bags of nickels.“
“But you gotta be some type of loser to call me on your time off away from the building… to leave me threatening messages. This guy needs to be out of the league. Gone… Nobody would miss him anyway”
Not just because he put Jonathan Martin through the ultimate hazing hell, but because Martin obviously wasn’t down with the program. The bottom line is the gentle giant was too soft and too sensitive to deal with Incognito’s relentless ribbing. He finally filed a complaint with the league after leaving the Dolphins complex last week following an incident in the cafeteria, and is preparing to start counseling for the supposed “emotional” issues.
Incogito has been indefinitely suspended, but he’s had a pattern of confrontational behavior throughout his career. We know we’re not dealing with Mother Teresa.
Incognito has been a problem child since college. He was kicked out of Nebraska and Oregon for numerous anger-related incidents before the Rams drafted him in the third round in 2005. His sick tendencies were overlooked because he enjoyed the benefits of being a stud athlete and a rare “white” NFL player in a league that’s 70 percent African-American.
Incognito became a Pro Bowl starter in St. Louis, but racked up nearly $100,000 in NFL fines for foul conduct. He was eventually released in 2009 after head-butting two Titans players in a game and then getting it in on the sidelines with then-coach Steve Spagnuolo.
According to the transcript of a voice mail Incognito left last spring that was obtained by ESPN, Incognito tried to humiliate Martin with racial epithets and vile sexual references.
“Hey, wassup, you half n—– piece of s—,” Incognito told Martin. “I saw you on Twitter, you been training 10 weeks. [I want to] s— in your f—ing mouth. [I’m going to] slap your f—ing mouth. [I’m going to] slap your real mother across the face. F— you, you’re still a rookie. I’ll kill you.”
So not only will Incognito be remembered as the “coward” Scott called him, he’ll also be remembered as a “racist and a bigot,” as NFL analyst Tom Jackson labeled him.
It’s still odd that a grown man would allow such abuse and disrespect to continue without addressing the situation personally. I’m not saying Martin should have assaulted Incognito, but a serious, eye-to-eye conversation should have definitely occurred, especially since It was going on past Martin’s rookie season. Martin also missed two days of organized team activities this past spring. The team knew he was struggling and unhappy without knowing the exact reason why, and they just let it ride.
Was there really no one at all he could turn to? Is Martin a recluse off the field who doesn’t have any boys on the team ? A mentor he can turn to? A coach with a receptive ear?
In Incognito’s defense, he may be a foul dude, but he’s not a criminal. He admits to a past of pugnacious, drug-fueled, crazy living, but says those days are long behind him.
“I'm definitely not a choir boy," Incognito told NFL.com in the story published earlier this year . "You know, I'm definitely not healed, and I'm not saying that I don't make mistakes. But from where I was to where I am now, I mean, it's night and day. And it's something that, you know, I hope people can respect about me."
I can dig it. He wants props for not smashing dudes faces in anymore. Incognito’s more of a kinder, gentler, verbal abuser now. He’s not going to get it from media pundits, who are painting him as a monster and may be blowing those private messages he sent Martin out of proportion. Phone calls, text messages and letters are often admitted as evidence in legal situations. However, they can often be taken out of context if people don’t know the circumstances or environment they were produced in.
The Dolphins players initially downplayed Martin’s plight for several reason. For one, because you just don’t take that kind of stuff outside the locker room. You handle that internally with your franchise. Another reason is because they all probably went through similar things as rookies and survived without running to Roger Goodell for help.
The NFL is a modern-age gladiator sport. An NFL player’s mentality is one of killer and aggressive obliterator. There’s no place in the culture for signs of weakness or ultra sensitivity. It’s often frowned upon and is probably part of the reason why nobody helped Martin.
Sources told ESPN that one of the significant allegations being reviewed is that Incognito asked Martin to contribute $15,000 to help finance a trip to Las Vegas by a group of Dolphins last summer, even though Martin preferred not to go. Instead of going on the trip and trying to build better relationships with his teammates, Martin simply gave Incognito the $15,000, sources told ESPN, fearing the consequences if he did not hand over the money.
What was Martin afraid of? I fail to believe that he really thought Incognito was going to go 187 on him, but now that these thirsty reporters have their hands on the story, a picture is being painted that Martin was a guy living in fear for his life.
Sure, it’s messed up when someone smells the weakness on you like blood on a wounded soldier stranded in vulture land. If you set yourself up to be victimized, it’s probably going to happen.
The hundreds of quotes dissing Incognito and defending the NFL’s locker room culture as different than what this situation in Miami has shown, is obvious damage control from everybody involved or associated with the game of football.
The game is already under siege and scrutiny for its violent nature and damaging long-term effects on a player’s health, as well as the violent attitudes it breeds. Any player or former player who has ever done something similar to what Incognito did will now separate themselves from the public disgrace he has become, and pile on this guy like a goal line stop on 4th and 1.
At the end of the day, nothing will be the same for Martin or Incognito, but nothing will change for anyone else if leaders keep pointing fingers and placing blame, rather than stepping up.