The National Football League is in the midst of its season with 32 teams aspiring to make a run for the Lombardi Trophy in February. There are just a handful of weeks remaining in the regular season, and as some teams begin to separate from the pack and eye a spot to play in Super Bowl XLVIII, other teams such as the Miami Dolphins are just waiting for this season to end.
The Dolphins are caught in a media whirlwind with no clear end in sight. Offensive lineman Jonathan Martin has left the team with no plans to return after an altercation with teammates. The only teammate that has been identified is fellow lineman Richie Incognito, a player with a record of altercations both on and off the field.
According to reports from teammates, Martin and Incognito had gotten into an incident in the team’s lunch room and Martin abruptly packed his belongings and left the facility. Martin had returned home to be with his family, taking what some are calling a “mental leave,” and according to reports from ESPN, he has checked into a hospital near his home. The Dolphins have placed him on the non-injury leave list, and many analysts believe that Martin will never play for Miami again.
“I cannot see Martin going back to Miami, his teammates have no trust in him anymore,” said Ramapo senior Joseph Reale.
It is not often to see a fully grown, 300-pound professional football player leave his team because he is being bullied; it is practically nonexistent. However, the racist and abusive voicemail Incognito left on the former Stanford graduate’s cell phone can explain Martin’s need to leave.
“That was taking it way too far. I get ribbing and joking around, that is what a group of friends do. But Incognito took it too far. I would be shocked if he plays for Miami again,” said Reale.
Incognito is currently being suspended indefinitely by the Dolphins, and with this being the last year in his contract with the team, it is practically impossible to believe that he will be wearing the green and orange jersey again.
As already mentioned, Incognito has had past issues on and off the field, stemming back to his playing days at the University of Nebraska. The unanimously voted “Dirtiest Player in the League” of 2009, Incognito has been in fights on the field that have led to suspensions, as well as being charged with assault off the field. There were also cases of bullying while in Nebraska, and even a near molestation charge that was kept in-house by the Dolphins organization during a charity golf event. All of this comes together to show the ugly side of what many who know him call a hardworking athlete.
Incognito’s problems were so intense and shadowed his talents to the point that former Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy admitted that he and his personnel removed Incognito’s name from their draft board “because of character.” Incognito, who was considered a top prospect from a talent aspect, slipped to the fourth round of the draft.
“There is a clear line between joking around and bullying, and Incognito crossed it. I don’t know if any team can take the liability of picking him up,” said Ramapo senior Matthew Hessel. “In my opinion…his career may be over.”
The NFL season is winding down but getting to its thickest storylines, and the Martin versus Incognito story may overshadow any games played in the following weeks.