Richie Incognito, the Miami offensive lineman who has been suspended by the team while the Dolphins investigate bullying claims against teammate Jonathan Martin, is probably going to be silent for awhile. Incognito, the troubled lineman with a history of outbursts, erupted on twitter Sunday defending himself in the Martin situation, but hasn’t been heard from since. The Miami Herald advanced the story Sunday with troubling details about how the veterans on the team live a fast-paced lifestyle in South Beach, while the young players foot the bill. If the bullying wasn’t high school enough for you, this certainly should be:
Young Dolphins players are under pressure to dig deep into their pockets to pay for veterans’ social outings, a practice that is straining their finances and locker room chemistry,
Younger players were handed the tab for a $30,000 team dinner, according to a source. The rookie minimum salary this year is about $400,000.
Will Davis, a rookie cornerback, tweeted Sunday: “The bill was definitely split. . . . They would never put that on one man to pay for it all. Haha now that would be crazy . . .”
Every team has a rookie dinner outing, which is what Odrick was referring to in his tweet, but at issue are incidents that extend far beyond a onetime meal deal.
The source characterized Dolphins veterans using younger players as ATMs to finance their nightlife whims. These older players have been caught up in the fast-paced Miami lifestyle without the burden of having to pay for it, the source continued.
The story goes on to say this is a league-wide trend, which means the Dolphins either pushed matters too far, or the veterans finally ran into players who were sick of this garbage. I get the normal hazing – players carrying equipment to the practice field, getting duct taped to goal posts, rookies getting dumped into cold tubs. But doesn’t it stop once the season begins?
Incognito’s troubles date back to his youth, when he was the “fat kid” in elementary school and never stood up for himself. Then one day, he snapped. Here’s an old story by Bruce Feldman on ESPN.com:
It didn’t help Richie’s disposition any that he was tormented by the other kids. Every day it was “fatass,” “lardass” or “whale.” When teachers told his folks that Richie never stuck up for himself, Richie Sr., a mason and old-school tough guy, told his son, “you can’t let them keep doing it.” So one day, on the playground in third grade, Richard Dominick Incognito decided that Joey, the local loudmouth, had called him “lardass” for the last time. Richie answered with a one-two combo that sent Joey home with two black eyes. The whuppin’ didn’t give Richie any satisfaction. “We were both scared,” he says. “He ran one way, and I ran the other.” But from that day on, Richie never backed down. “I think fighting was distasteful for Richie,” Bendian says. “But he realized that if you want a kid off your back, you have to beat the crap out of him.”
Incognito has the Dolphins in a rough spot. At 4-4, they’re only one game out of the Wild Card race, but they’re now down two offensive lineman on a unit that’s played poorly all season. How can you mend the locker room in time? At this point, can Martin and Incognito co-exist? Who knows just how toxic things are – what if teammates lost respect for Martin for bailing on the team … or those who were unaware of this don’t want to play with Incognito?
Miami travels to Tampa on Monday Night, then hosts the Chargers.