On Wednesday, former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito decided to end his silence in the ongoing drama surrounding allegations that he was the ringleader behind the apparent bullying of teammate Jonathan Martin.
Incoginito used Twitter to vent his feelings regarding public perception that he was the man behind the taunting and bullying that led Dolphins offensive tackle Martin to suddenly leave his team and seek counseling.
Martin would not return to the team for the remainder of the season, and teammate Incognito was singled out as the man allegedly responsible for Martin’s abrupt departure.
However, many reports paint an entirely different picture. Many of Incognito’s teammates said back in early November that Incognito was being unfairly portrayed in the media. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was especially outspoken in his disbelief over allegations that Incognito was an instigating bully.
Several other teammates backed up Tannehill’s claims, saying that Incognito and Martin were very close during their time with the Dolphins.
The NFL is conducting an investigation into the matter, and Ted Wells, the NFL’s appointed special investigator, is scheduled to release his findings in the very near future. Incognito, sensing that the report is drawing near, used Twitter to defend himself on Wednesday.
Incognito didn’t appear ready to “move on,” as he stated in one of many tweets. He went on to tell his former friend Martin that honesty is the best policy.
In a voicemail message
leaked to ESPN
, Incognito was heard using racial epithets and hurling other profanity-laced taunts at Martin in April 2013:
"Hey, wassup, you half n----- piece of s---. 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 [laughter]. F--- you, you're still a rookie. I'll kill you."
Incognito took major issue in the leaking of that message.
Incognito eventually ended his Twitter and later told
Michael Silver of NFL.com
that he expects that Wells’ report will exonerate him.
"The facts clearly show the allegations are false and there was no bullying," Incognito said. "Just banter both ways between two good friends. I intend to do as I always have: focus on doing the best job I can for my team and fans and helping my team win. I will have no other comment until the (Ted) Wells report is issued."
Incognito, like Martin, did not play again in the 2013 season after being suspended following the initial incident. He is now an unrestricted free agent, and his days in Miami are clearly over.
In fact, Incognito may have trouble ever playing in the league again. Even if his named is cleared by Wells, he will be a huge distraction for any team that seeks to upgrade their offensive line. Incognito is a former All-Pro, but all of the hoopla surrounding the events in Miami may make him undesirable in the end.
There is clearly more to this story than meets the eye. While many reports have uncovered a mountain of documents, text messages, voicemails and other evidence, the picture painted by Martin that he was unjustly treated by Incognito and other teammates doesn’t appear on its face to be entirely accurate.
Incognito has already paid a heavy price for the allegations. Even if Wells’ report shows that no bullying occurred, the accusation will follow him wherever he goes, both in the locker room and out.