Thursday, November 7, 2013
Bengals answer to bullying is locker room
CINCINNATI -- Every single fact still has yet to surface.
The exact motivations behind Jonathan Martin's exit from the Miami Dolphins before last week's game against the Cincinnati Bengals remain a mystery to the broader public.
The precise circumstances that led his teammate, Richie Incognito, to allegedly send the fellow offensive lineman racist, vitriolic voice and text messages continue to be unclear.
For those reasons, it's tough for anyone outside of the bizarre bullying drama in South Florida to speak as intelligently on it as they'd like, but most of this week, some of the Bengals have tried to be as candid with it as possible, sharing their thoughts on what little widely publicized information about the matter is known.
"Once again, you just don't know the context of it. None of us really knows," Bengals offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth said. "You would hope if anything like all of that happened, it would be squashed and dealt with appropriately by the guys in the locker room. You would hope the leadership in the locker room either knew it was happening or not and would do something about it. That's probably the toughest part."
So what do we know? That Incognito apparently spearheaded a lunchroom prank against Martin in the days before last Thursday night's tilt in Miami Gardens, Fla. that caused Martin to walk away from the organization, fly back to California and seek medical attention. We haven't yet heard from Martin, the alleged victim in this matter, but the NFL and NFLPA are among those investigating and trying to determine whether or not the Dolphins were right to suspend Incognito indefinitely.
We also know that after the Dolphins' front office took a particular stance against Incognito by suspending him, the players on the team Wednesday came out in favor of the embattled lineman, saying Martin is in the wrong. He knew Incognito's messages were jokes and actually considered him a friend, several of them said.
There also have been reports that Incognito was urged by coaches to toughen up Martin. Video of Incognito also has surfaced, showing him using a racial epithet at a bar with teammate Mike Pouncey egging him on.
Rest assured, some new twist or turn in the saga is bound to be uncovered Thursday or Friday that could send this whole ordeal in a completely unexpected direction.
Still, based off what his knows at least one Bengals veteran isn't pleased with what he's heard about Incognito's behavior, specifically the allegations he left racially-charged voice and text messages on Martin's phone. Martin is black.
"I know you joke with guys and you haze guys, but when it comes down to racially-motivated slurs and all that, I mean, I think that everybody deserves a chance, but you just can't change what's in somebody's heart," Bengals cornerback Chris Crocker said. "At this point, he's  years old. You are what you are. So if that's who he is, then that's who he is. There's no place for that."
Crocker wasn't done.
"There's just no place for a guy like that in the locker room; in my opinion," he continued. "That's just as bad as a teammate as you can possibly get."
Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis doesn't believe his players have issues with one another.
"I can 100 percent tell you that Andrew, Domata [Peko] and our guys in that locker room, they understand," Lewis said. "There are certain things, traditions that we have for the rookies, but you can't let things get out of hand or go too far. You don't want to be degrading, demeaning and so forth that way because, you know what? We need those guys.
"We're a family, a very close-knit family and we need every one of our family members to feel great about each other every single day. That's what you want."