The Miami Dolphins made the right call suspending starting guard Richie Incognito on Sunday night. If most or all of the allegations against Incognito are true, he forced the Dolphins’ hand on this matter and deserves to be suspended.
This was not a football decision. Incognito is a solid veteran player who made the Pro Bowl in 2012. Suspending him certainly doesn’t make the offensive line better. But, it makes the Dolphins better in the locker room moving forward.
Representatives for Miami right tackle Jonathan Martin contacted the Dolphins with their claims on Sunday. According to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen, Martin was forced to pay $15,000 for a players’ trip to Las Vegas that Martin did not attend and was the victim of persistent harassment, among other things. Martin also was in possession of threatening text messages from Incognito and at least one voicemail, according to ESPN's report.
Also, transcripts of voice mail messages and text messages left for Martin by Incognito indicate a pattern of racial epithets and profane language.
This level of player misconduct by Incognito cannot be tolerated. The Dolphins had no choice but to remove the biggest culprit and set an example for the rest of the locker room.
The irony is Incognito was part of Miami’s six-player leadership counsel this year. He was expected to set an example. The sign on his locker in recent weeks that read, “There are two things Richie Incognito does not like: Taxes and Rookies” now has a lot more meaning and context. Martin was a second-year player but claims to have been harassed since his rookie season.
Knowing what the Dolphins now know there was no way they could allow Incognito to show up and address the media on Monday. The distraction from this story is big enough. Miami is a .500 team with plenty left to play for and eventually would like to get back to football.
With Incognito out of the picture, the focus is now back on the Dolphins’ organization.
Here is the first question: How did Miami allow this Martin situation to happen?
Were the Dolphins and head coach Joe Philbin completely unaware of these issues within the locker room? Or did the Dolphins know details and choose to ignore them?
Whatever the situation, the Dolphins deserve credit for finally taking control of a bad situation. By suspending Incognito, the Dolphins took a strong stance against harassment in the workplace.
It’s a step in the right direction.