(SportsNetwork.com) - When the 0-8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers look like a sea of
tranquility in comparison, you know you've have a rough week.
The Miami Dolphins seized the title of "team turmoil" over the past few days
just as they are preparing to face the embattled Greg Schiano and his winless
Bucs on "Monday Night Football."
In fact, MRSA infections, lunging at the opposition's knees while they're in
the victory formation or "Fire Schiano" signs seem quaint compared to the
firestorm that erupted in South Florida when Dolphins second-year offensive
tackle Jonathan Martin left the team and accused linemate Richie Incognito of
bullying him incessantly.
Incognito, who began his career with the St. Louis Rams in 2005 and has been
marred by a reputation as a dirty player, is firmly entrenched as the villain
in this narrative especially after a voicemail surfaced with him using a
racial slur and threatening physical harm to Martin and his family.
The Dolphins indefinitely suspended Incognito, who has a history of erratic
behavior dating back to his collegiate days at the University of Nebraska, for
conduct detrimental to the team.
Martin, meanwhile, is currently away from the Dolphins after abruptly leaving
the club following an incident in the team cafeteria in which several
teammates left a table as he was about to sit down in an apparent prank.
"We believe in maintaining a culture of respect for one another and as a
result we believe this (suspension of Incognito) is in the best interest of
the organization at this time," the Dolphins said in a statement." As we noted
earlier, we reached out to the NFL to conduct an objective and thorough
review. We will continue to work with the league on this matter."
The league appointed Ted Wells, one of the nation's most prominent attorneys,
to direct an independent investigation into issues of workplace conduct around
the organization and prepare a report for commissioner Roger Goodell, which
will be made public.
"Ted Wells will independently direct the investigation and submit a report to
me," commissioner Goodell said. "Mr. Wells will conduct a thorough and
objective investigation. He will ensure that we have all the facts so that we
can address this matter constructively."
The issue seems cut and dry to most but for those indoctrinated in the NFL's
tough-man culture, it's anything but.
Some believe Incognito was asked by the Miami coaching staff to "toughen up"
Martin, and many of his teammates, including quarterback Ryan Tannehill, have
Tannehill called Incognito "a great teammate to me" and said the nine-year
veteran guard brought a lot of laughter and cohesiveness to the locker room.
"He's the best teammate you could ask for," the second-year signal caller
Tannehill also claimed an accurate description of Incognito and Martin would
be that they were like best friends and brothers.
"If you asked Jonathan Martin a week before who his best friend is he would
have said Richie Incognito," Tannehill said Wednesday. "I would say Jonathan
is like Richie's little brother. I think that's an accurate description. He
gave him a hard time, he messed with him, but he was the first guy to have his
Martin's camp struck back on Thursday night claiming Martin's toughness is not
in question and his treatment went far beyond good-natured hazing or any other
"Jonathan Martin's toughness is not at issue," his lawyer David Cornwell said
in the statement. "Jonathan has started every game with the Miami Dolphins
since he was drafted in 2012. At Stanford, he was the anchor for Jim
Harbaugh's 'smash mouth' brand of football and he protected Andrew Luck's
"The issue is Jonathan's treatment by his teammates. Jonathan endured
harassment that went far beyond the traditional locker room hazing. For the
entire season-and-a-half that he was with the Dolphins, he attempted to
befriend the same teammates who subjected him to the abuse with the hope that
doing so would end the harassment. This is a textbook reaction of victims of
bullying. Despite these efforts, the taunting continued. Beyond the well-
publicized voice mail with its racial epithet, Jonathan endured a malicious
physical attack on him by a teammate. These facts are not in dispute.
"Eventually, Jonathan made a difficult choice. Despite his love for football,
Jonathan left the Dolphins. Jonathan looks forward to getting back to playing
football. In the meantime, he will cooperate fully with the NFL
The statement also included an alleged vulgar quote from an anonymous teammate
directed at Martin's sister.
Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said if the NFL decides there was wrongdoing the
team "will take all necessary measures to fix it and to make sure it doesn't
Many have reached for the movie classic "A Few Good Men" when describing the
scandal with Jack Nicholson's Col. Jessup playing the role of Philbin or at
least the marine-looking offensive line coach Jim Turner and ordering the
"Code Red" in an attempt to toughen up the Stanford-soft Martin.
You can almost here Turner defending his behavior to Wells.
"My existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, toughens players.
You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at
parties, you want me pushing these players, you need me pushing there players.
We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of
a life spent pursing a championship. You use them as a punchline."
So many people outside of football, where things like a Stanford education are
actually something to be quite proud of, just can't comprehend people like
Incognito exist but understand he's no stand-alone monster.
Remember the Lions' Dominic Raiola, another Nebraska offensive lineman by the
way, verbally attacking the University of Wisconsin marching band before
Detroit's game in Green Bay earlier this season?
Or how about former tight end Cam Cleeland's description of "running the
gauntlet" while a rookie with New Orleans. The kicks and punches were
expected, but one teammate (linebacker Andre Royal) rocked him in the face
with a sock full of coins, nearly costing Cleeland his eye.
"Coach (Mike) Ditka gave me a speech as soon as it was done," Cleeland told
the Los Angeles Times. "He was like, 'Oh, man, you should have just popped
those guys in the mouth.' I said, 'Coach, there were 60 of them.'"
It's not hard to draw a line for most of us.
Young players picking up coffee and doughnuts or dry cleaning is no big deal.
Heck, even "King Ugly" contests and getting taped to the goal posts are
harmless for the most part.
When that morphs into threats or physical violence, however, it doesn't take
an investigator to tell us something is wrong.
So forget about "A Few Good Men," this is Lewis Skolnick fighting back against
the Stan Gables and Ogres of the world -- this is "Revenge of the Nerds" or at
least revenge of the 6-foot-5, 320-pound highly-educated who don't want to
participate in an archaic culture quietly protected and kept away from the
rest of civilized society.
The Sports Network