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Don Shula: Dolphins took a chance on Richie Incognito and it backfired

1972 Miami Dolphins Don ShulaMiami Dolphins coaching legend Don Shula gave his take on the Richie Incognito situation earlier this week. Shula, who won back-to-back Super Bowls in the 1970s and coached his team to a perfect 16-0 season, questioned the team’s decision to have Incognito on the roster in the first place.

“You win with good people on and off the field,” Shula told the Miami Herald’s Greg Cote. “They took a chance on a guy with a bad reputation, and it backfired on them.”

As you know, the NFL is currently looking into allegations that Incognito bullied teammate Jonathan Martin. Incognito supposedly left Martin a threatening voicemail and was the ring leader for teammates who hazed the former Stanford star. But there were warning signs off the field before the Martin situation.

In 2012, Incognito was accused of sexually harassing an employee at a golf tournament. We also saw a video of him stomping around at a bar with his shirt off acting like an idiot. The Dolphins reportedly considered releasing Incognito before the season but decided to hold onto him because they were thin at offensive line. Shula said it bothers him to see his former team dealing with issues like these.

“It hurts,” Shula said. “You hate to see it happening.”

According to Cote, Shula was referring to several years of letdowns with the Dolphins organization — not just the Incognito mess. It’s tough to argue with the legend.

Miami Dolphins reportedly considered releasing Richie Incognito before season

Richie IncognitoSeveral of the Miami Dolphins players have defended Richie Incognito throughout the Jonathan Martin bullying investigation, but you have to wonder if the team is wishing they released him in hindsight. Incognito seems to have become more trouble than he’s worth, and the Dolphins reportedly came close to partying ways with him before the season.

According to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins did not see a future for Incognito on their roster beyond the 2013 season. They were reportedly going to release him during the offseason but decided they did not have enough talent on their offensive front. Did his off-field behavior have anything to do with it?

As we have learned, Incognito has been reckless at times during non-football activities. Between rumors that he sexually harassed an employee at a golf event and used to regularly hold offensive line meetings at a strip club, it sounds like the 30-year-old is no stranger to partying. And let’s not forget that ridiculous video where he was stomping around a bar with his shirt off going nuts.

“I don’t think it was a secret that Richie liked to go out and have a good time,” Dolphins offensive tackle Tyson Clabo recently said. “And I’m sure that we’ve all gone out and had a few too many and called somebody and don’t even remember what we said on the voicemail.”

Earlier this week, a report indicated that Incognito will likely never play a snap for the Dolphins again. Given the events that have unfolded, it’s probably safe to assume the team wishes it could have said that four months ago.

Full Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin history:

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Richie Incognito reportedly feels ‘shocked’ and ‘betrayed’ by Jonathan Martin

Jonathan Martin Richie Incognito

Richie Incognito flew to Los Angeles on Friday, possibly to get away from the mess with the Miami Dolphins. He may be meeting with his agent and he may be meeting with PR/crisis management experts. Whatever the case, it seems like someone is assisting his efforts, because finally a story came out on Friday that makes him look slightly better.

ESPN cited a source who says that Incognito feels “betrayed” by Jonathan Martin, who left the Dolphins nearly two weeks ago in response to what he felt was persistent harassment. Martin turned over evidence of the mistreatment in the form of voicemail and text messages, which led the Dolphins to suspend Incognito indefinitely.

The source told ESPN that Incognito viewed his relationship with Martin as an older brother giving a younger brother tough love.

“It’s probably a combination of totally blindsided and a bit betrayed,” the source said of Incognito’s current state. “He’s shocked. He can’t believe this happened and thinks it probably could have been avoided.”

Clearly Incognito had the wrong read on the situation if he thought everything between him and Martin was fine. He also probably enjoyed tormenting Martin and others, which is why he did it. For anyone to believe that Incognito was ignorant about what he was doing and its effects would be naive.

But this still comes down to the same thing, and most people fall on one side of the debate or the other: either you think Martin wimped out and didn’t handle the bullying the proper way, or you find Incognito’s treatment of his teammate to be totally inappropriate and unproductive. I know which side I fall on, and it’s not one that gives Incognito a pass for giving his little brother tough love.

Full Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin history:

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Desmond Howard: ‘What level of coonery is going on inside Miami Dolphins locker room?’

desmond-howardESPN analyst Desmond Howard made a regrettable remark on Friday during an appearance on SportsCenter while trying to wrap his brain around what has been going on inside the Miami Dolphins locker room.

One of the more bizarre reports we have heard about the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin situation indicated that Incognito’s Dolphins teammates consider him an “honorary” black guy and some even view him as “more black” than Martin. Howard addressed that report on Friday, but the former NFL return specialist could have expressed himself more eloquently.

“What level of coonery is going on inside the Miami Dolphins’ locker room?” he asked.

Video of the comment can be seen below, courtesy of USA Today. It’s difficult to hear, so you may need to turn up your volume:

There are obviously a lot of racial aspects to this story, as evidenced by the voicemail Incognito allegedly left on Martin’s phone. Whatever is or isn’t going on inside Miami’s locker room, it was unwise of Howard to describe it using a racist term of his own. That does nothing to help the situation.

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Richie Incognito reportedly held O-line meetings at strip clubs, would ‘fine’ those who didn’t attend

Richie Incognito DolphinsWhat started out as an investigation into whether or not Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito harassed teammate Jonathan Martin has turned into a full-blown attack on Incognito’s character. Over the past 24 hours, we have learned that Incognito was accused of sexually harassing a volunteer at a golf event by touching her inappropriately with a golf club. Now, a report claims he used to frequent strip clubs and try to force his teammates to do the same.

According to National Football Post’s Jason Cole, two sources claim Incognito “regularly held meetings for the team’s offensive linemen at a South Florida strip club.” Incognito reportedly demanded that the other linemen attend and would “fine” them if they did not.

“Richie wanted to set up Richie’s world as a way for everybody to act,” a team source reportedly told Cole. “Richie thinks everybody should act that way. He doesn’t get that some guys aren’t into that behavior. Some guys don’t want to constantly explain to their wife or girlfriend why they have to go to a strip club.”

One of the sources added that Incognito would mock any member of the team who chose not to attend and make them feel ostracized.

We don’t know for sure if Incognito was the one who sent that digesting text message about Martin’s sister, but would you be surprised? I know there are people who feel that Incognito has become a scape goat for a culture that is prevalent across the NFL, but there’s usually smoke where there’s fire. Going to the strip club isn’t a big deal. Forcing everyone to be just like you and punishing them if they’re not is obnoxious at the very least.

Full Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin history:

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Cam Cleeland: Richie Incognito is an ‘immature, unrealistic scumbag’

Richie IncognitoMore than 15 years ago, former NFL tight end Cam Cleeland fell victim to one of the most infamous hazing incidents in professional sports history. Cleeland was a rookie with the New Orleans Saints when he was forced to put a pillow case over his head and run down a hallway filled with veteran teammates. Simply put, he and the other rookies had to make it from one side to the other while they had the crap kicked out of them.

During the so-called rite of passage, Cleeland was decked in the face with a sock full of coins. His eye socket was shattered and he nearly lost his eye. Cleeland only has partial vision in the eye to this day. Needless to say, we don’t really need to explain why he feels for Jonathan Martin.

Cleeland happened to play for the St. Louis Rams the year they drafted Richie Incognito. Unlike some other former teammates who have defended Incognito as a stand-up guy, Cleeland had nothing good to say about him.

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Dolphins player told Jonathan Martin he was going to f— his sister

Jonathan MartinJonathan Martin has hired attorney David Cornwell, and one of the lawyer’s first actions was sending out a statement on behalf of the Miami Dolphins offensive lineman.

In the statement, which was published by Pro Football Talk, Cornwell defended Martin’s toughness and said that is not the issue at hand. He says the issue is the way Martin has been treated by his teammates, which he says goes well beyond typical NFL hazing.

Cornwell also says Martin was friends with Richie Incognito and other teammates because he hoped that would help the bullying stop.

To quiet all doubters on the matter, Cornwell dropped this bomb at the end of the statement. Cornwell says this was a quote from one of Martin’s teammates:

“We are going to run train on your sister. . . . She loves me. I am going to f–k her without a condom and c– in her c—.”

I know people say the NFL locker room is different from most work environments, but I’m not sure how ANYONE could defend a statement like that. I wouldn’t want to be around anyone who said things like that and it’s easy to understand why Martin didn’t want to, either.

Full Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin history:

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