Miami Dolphin’s Bullying Saga

Jim Nagle, Writer

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At this point, you’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard about the controversy surrounding the Miami Dolphin’s locker room. It seems like every other day a new voice-mail or statement from a player or the administration is released further condemning Richie Incognito and campaigning for sympathy for Jonathan Martin. At this point, its clear that Martin was harassed by a group of teammates led by veteran lineman Richie Incognito, but how can fact and fiction be separated with so much media coverage on the topic?

On October 30th this year, Jonathan Martin, a second-year tackle out of Stanford, left the Dolphins organization for unspecified reasons. Within the next few days, reports began to surface alleging that Martin left due to emotional issues stemming from bullying at the hands of his teammates. Within hours of the initial reports of bullying, Richie Incognito, a veteran guard with a history of violent and controversial behavior, was named as the ringleader of the bullying and within days of this, various voicemails, text messages, and videos surfaced publicizing Incognito’s racist and threatening behavior towards Martin, and at this point, the situation seemed black and white.

Now, this is where the topic begins to get murky; Incognito was suspended indefinitely and within the next few weeks, Dolphins teammates and NFL players from other teams began to come out in his support, arguing that Martin should have been able to stand up for himself.

“Jonathan Martin is a 6’5 320 pound dude,” said Giant’s safety Antrel Rolle. “I think he should be able to stand up for himself.” This attitude seemed to be fairly prevalent among NFL players and front offices, and some even claimed that Martin broke the locker room “Code of Conduct” in which rookies must carry the pads and other equipment of the veterans and are often compelled to pay for expensive “rookie dinners,” in which the veterans run up a large restaurant tab in the rookies name. According to reports however, Martin’s hazing went far beyond this, even alleging he paid $30,000 for a team trip to Las Vegas, which he did not attend.  Reports of threats to Martin’s family, racist comments, and other pranks at Martin’s expense contributed to his emotional breakdown and subsequent departure from the team.

At this point, it is still largely uncertain what happened in the Dolphin’s locker room. Incognito’s voicemails and prior behavioral patterns heavily suggest he excessively bullied Martin, but any motivations for this beyond rookie hazing are nothing more than conjecture. Incognito himself gave an exclusive interview in an attempt to clear his name; claiming he was trying to toughen up Martin and that the two were in fact good friends but this has not been verified and the claim comes from Incognito only. Martin, meanwhile, has yet to release a statement regarding the bullying and his exact actions after his departure are not clearly known. It is unlikely the full extent of the bullying Martin endured will ever become publicly known, but it is abundantly clear that he endured hazing far beyond the NFL norm. Only time will tell whether the repercussions from the incident will resonate beyond the Dolphin’s locker room and at this point it seems unlikely.