This is will be included as part of my Dolphins off-season report in a few days, but the Ted Wells report has finally come out so it felt like better timing to publish this separately right now. With everything out in the open that needs to be out in the open, I feel I can accurately judge both sides of the situation in terms of their involvement and subsequently their NFL futures. This is the first time I’ve done this on here because I wanted to wait for everything to come out. Unfortunately, that took a while, but whatever.
G Richie Incognito
If I had a choice right now between Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin in terms of who I’d want on my team, I’m taking Incognito. That being said, I don’t think any team can just sign Incognito like it’s nothing and expect it to 100% work. Because of all of the things that have been said about him in the media, true or untrue, fair or unfair, there are probably a solid amount of players in the NFL who feel they could never play with him. I wouldn’t want him on a team with several of those players. You have to know and consult your locker room before you bring someone like him in now.
That being said, Incognito is still a good football player, only going into his age 31 season, coming off a solid 8 game start to the 2013 season and a 2012 season in which he finished 24th among guards on Pro Football Focus. I’m more sympathetic to Incognito’s side than most people probably are. He’s done some bad things in the past, but I don’t think he comes out of the Jonathan Martin situation like the terrible person a lot of people are trying to paint him as.
After reading the thousands of text messages sent back and forth between Incognito and Martin, I can definitely understand why Incognito believed they were friends. Friends rip on each other. I do it with my friends. I wouldn’t expect things to be any different in the NFL. Did Incognito cross some lines? Absolutely. Leaving female family members out of the mix is generally a good rule to follow and some of the racial stuff definitely raises eyebrows, even if it isn’t coming from a truly racist place, which I don’t believe it is.
Incognito definitely doesn’t come out of this looking like a saint, especially when you consider his history and his apparent obsession with strippers, hookers, and fake tits. However, I don’t believe anything Incognito said was coming from a place of hate. In fact, I believe the opposite. And then one day, all of a sudden, lawyers are involved, Incognito is out of a job, and being painted in the media as a racist and a bully. That’s something I can be sympathetic to.
On top of that, the fact that a large number of Incognito’s Miami teammates came to bat for him after the situation happened means something to me. Again, he’s not a good fit in every NFL locker room, but there’s a spot for Richie Incognito in the NFL, especially since I think Incognito is definitely going to be a lot more careful in the future with the lines that he’s crossed after this mess.
OT Jonathan Martin
While I would want Incognito on my team in certain situations, I actually don’t believe Jonathan Martin is an NFL player. He obviously has mental issues he needs to attend to and I don’t think that an NFL locker room is the place to handle that. His situation in another locker room might not be the exact same as in Miami, but he’s going to encounter some locker room culture everywhere he goes. You can’t have someone in an NFL locker room that needs to be coddled and given special treatment. You have to be mentally tough to play football and I don’t get the impression that Martin is.
I wouldn’t have said any of that if Martin had been getting results on the football field, but he struggled mightily as a rookie and for the first part of his sophomore season and it’s definitely becoming clear why. Inadvertently through this situation, it’s come out that Martin was not in the physical shape that the Dolphins wanted him to be in and through his text messages with Incognito it was revealed that Martin didn’t even know how to watch film during the off-season.
On top of all this, he’s now a walking lawsuit for any NFL team. He’s not completely innocent in this, as it doesn’t appear he ever gave Incognito any indication that he didn’t view their relationship as nearly as friendly as Incognito did. I’m very sympathetic to Martin’s need for help, but he put Incognito in a very tough situation. I don’t think that the NFL is the place for him. It doesn’t make him a bad person. Not everyone is cut out for the NFL. Martin is a Stanford graduate and most likely a very, very smart person capable of having a very successful career in the “real world.” The same probably could not be said about Incognito. Martin should just do that.