Open Sports Thread: Richie (No Longer) Incognito

Mandatory disclaimer: Football, not my field of expertise, as you all have reason to know. Nevertheless… From NYMag:

Last fall, the NFL hired lawyer Ted Wells to investigate the Miami Dolphins in the wake of offensive tackle Jonathan Martin’s claims that he’d been bullied by teammate Richie Incognito. Martin, as you’ll recall, left the team in October, and details of the alleged bullying — including claims that Incognitio used racial slurs — trickled out over the following days and weeks. The Wells Report was released today, and it found that three Dolphins starters, including Incognito, John Jerry, and Mike Pouncey, “engaged in a pattern of harassment” of Martin, another young Dolphins lineman, and a member of the training staff. It also rejected claims by Incognito that Martin fabricated claims of harassment.

You can read the full 144-page report here, and there’s a lot of new information, including heartbreaking correspondence between Martin and his parents…

The NYMag post has a bunch of deeply unpleasant details, if you haven’t already seen them.

In the interests of balance, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that “‘Mr. Wells’ NFL report is replete with errors. The facts do not support a conclusion that Jonathan Martin’s mental health, drug use, or on field performance issues were related to the treatment by his teammates,’ the statement from Incognito’s attorney Mark Schamel stated.”

Outsourcing judgement to Eric Sollenberger at SB Nation:

The NFL has an asshole problem.

There is absolutely nothing that came out in the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin report from Ted Wells that can be taken to mean anything else. Enough about this “locker room culture” crap. There is no such thing as “locker room culture.” This is just a phrase used by people who are uncomfortable with good athletes being reasonably called out on deplorable behavior. What happened in the Miami Dolphins locker room can be described as nothing else but a group of man-children hiding behind a veneer of alpha male-ism in a society that excuses their stupid actions…

It’s an NFL problem because it was done with the blessing of the coaching staff. Given the NFL’s policy on hiring dipshits who have been fired by three other teams, this is not an isolated incident. This was done systematically under the guise of “team-building.”

I’ve never known any effective “team-building” exercise that involves keeping a spiral notebook outlining fines for “breaking” someone to the verge of psychosis. You don’t get “broken” by your peers and come back fine the next day. You come back with a deep resentment of them and more importantly, of yourself, that you try to mask by attempting to be just as big of an asshole as they are…

If Incognito was one of the dumb thugs in the working-class Bronx neighborhood where I grew up, we’d congratulate him on having painted a target on his own back, because being outed as a ‘gunslinger’ means there will always be some other wannabe tough guy looking to take you down in public. But, hey, that was forty years ago — the basic rules of primate social behavior don’t seem to have changed much, but I’m sure the personal defense systems have gotten much more sophisticated.

53 replies
  1. 1
  2. 2
    NotMax says:

    The only culture there is in locker rooms is what’s growing on the tile grout.

  3. 3
    piratedan says:

    previous thread had a great link to ESPN and a commentary from Mark Schlereth… well worth a read.

  4. 4
    Suffern ACE says:

    I don’t really expect football players to have workplaces like my office, but gosh, any one of those incidents would get me put on probation and the second one would get me fired. With the exception on the suggestive rape. I don’t think I’d get a warning about that one.

  5. 5
    Suffern ACE says:

    I think though, the report is a problem for Martin’s case against the dolphins. First, he didn’t tell anyone. Second, the incident with the coach actually seemed to be about bullying somebody else. Third, the coach may not be “management”, so even if the coach witnessed it, it is a matter of employees misbehaving and not a matter of the dolphins allowing a hostile workplace to persist. There is also the problem that when the NFL became aware of Incignito’s misbehavior at the golf tournament, it fined him substantially, so it is difficult to claim that the NFL didn’t attempt to discipline incognito when it became aware of serious offenses.

    I’m not certain that as dickish as ingcognito is, Martin is going to win here. Maybe one of the lawyers could opine.

  6. 6
    max says:

    I’ve never known any effective “team-building” exercise that involves keeping a spiral notebook outlining fines for “breaking” someone to the verge of psychosis.

    If the gist of this is correct, then it’s not team-building and it’s not being an asshole, either. It’s just straight-up sociopathy/psychopathy. (There aren’t enough details to say where on the spectrum these goons fall.) Those are the kinds of folks who torture animals for fun.

    If Incognito was one of the dumb thugs in the working-class Bronx neighborhood where I grew up, we’d congratulate him on having painted a target on his own back, because being outed as a ‘gunslinger’ means there will always be some other wannabe tough guy looking to take you down in public.

    I’d very much doubt the guy would care. It wouldn’t occur to him to care.

    [‘One to two percent of the population…’]

  7. 7
    raven says:

    My high school coach would whack us on the helmet with his clipboard. If you’ve never heard that try it some time.

  8. 8

    This along with the concussion situation was why after fifty years of watching various teams (Lions, Dolphins, Vikings, Broncos), I found something else to watch on Sunday afternoons last fall. It all turned sour.

  9. 9
    Schlemizel says:

    Mr Sollenberger is very wrong about one thing, that very much is the locker room culture in far too many locker rooms. And that culture leaks out into the real world even from locker rooms were such behavior is not openly tolerate. Boys will be jocks if we allow that and all the BS about sports building character is just that, BS. In the absence of strong adult leadership that makes an effort to control the worst stuff sports build bullies and goons. And since a coaches job, from even low levels of sports, is not building better kids but winning games . . .

    Take a look at that clip from that Texas sports guy again and remove the context about gays. Just think about the number of incidents we have heard about that he references as things the NFL is OK with. That IS the locker room culture today. There are many fine young men and outstanding human beings scatted around locker rooms in the NFL, I have had the pleasure of getting to know a few. But far and away too many are not and the society permits, and in many cases at least enables if not out right encourages, some of the worst. The problem is a thousand times worse than one Richie Incognito; he is just the product of the society that celebrates murders, rapists, abusers and junkies because they have a gift.

  10. 10
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Given the NFL’s policy on hiring dipshits who have been fired by three other teams,

    Sollenberger is supposed to be a sports writer, and yet he writes this? You can’t find a coach in the NFL who hasn’t been fired at least a half dozen times because every time the head coach goes, so do all his assistants. And how does one become a head coach? By being an assistant on many other teams and getting fired from them along with the head coach but getting people to know you in the process. His saying this alone colors his story and not in a good way.

    If Incognito was one of the dumb thugs in the working-class Bronx neighborhood where I grew up, we’d congratulate him on having painted a target on his own back, because being outed as a ‘gunslinger’ means there will always be some other wannabe tough guy looking to take you down in public.

    Anne? What do you think is happening in a football game? On any one play there are somewhere between 2 and 7 guys trying to take you down in public, 60,000 of them in fact. Incognito LIKES having a target painted on his back. It’s what he does for a living. And so does every other guy out there on that field.

    I have not read any thing about this much beyond the headlines. I don’t need to. Whatever you think it is, it is almost certainly worse. These guys aren’t choir boys, they’re thugs in uniforms. They beat people up on Sundays and get paid LOTS of money for it. When Incognito was with the Rams he was known as the dirtiest player in the NFL. But in STL, He was our thug. The coach (I can’t remember which one, there have been so many) even once said, “I want eleven guys like Richie.”

    A couple games later they suddenly and quite unceremoniously let Incognito go. There was a line even the Rams wouldn’t cross, but I guess the Dolphins would.

  11. 11
    ThresherK says:

    Glad to hear about Cole’s dad.

    Is there a name for the internet phenomenon of waking up in the morning, and then finding threads with “My dad is fine.” preceded by “He’s resting comfortably in the hospital room”, then “Dad is in the ER”.

    It’s like an inverted inverted pyramid.

  12. 12
    JPL says:

    @Suffern ACE: At the time that Incognito received two fines, his contract said one problem and you’re gone. I’m not sure how this helps Martin but the Dolphin’s ignored Incognito’s behavior.

    @raven: Did the earth move for you on Valentine’s Day? I was reading a book and felt nothing. An earthquake originated in AL about a decade ago that shook my house. It sounded as though squirrels were running up and down the wall.

  13. 13
    Anne Laurie says:

    @JPL: Only earthquake I’ve personally experienced was a Level 2, in mid-Michigan. I was at work on the third floor of the university library, and suddenly it felt exactly as though the building was being driven over a rumble strip, brrrrm brrrmmm brrrrmmmmp [silence]. Because there were extensive renovations being done on the floor above, my first thought was that they’d knocked down a load-bearing wall by mistake!

  14. 14
    raven says:

    @JPL: My bride felt it but I didn’t. My facebook blew up and everyone had a great time. I just asked a guy at the bakery and he said “no, but come to think of it we did feel the house shake”!

  15. 15
    JPL says:

    @Anne Laurie: Supposedly, animals are susceptible to the movement, but not mine. They slept through it.

  16. 16
    raven says:

    USSR-USA hockey on.

  17. 17
    raven says:

    @JPL: They slept through it because it was no big deal.

  18. 18
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JPL: I heard my first “frost quake” a couple weeks ago. Sounded like a sonic boom and I thought the idiots were f’n around at the shooting range and blowing sh!t up again (gun nuts like bombs too). A day or 2 later I read the article in the STL Post Disgrace about frost quakes in the area. Until then, I didn’t even know such a thing existed.

  19. 19
    Pogonip says:

    I wonder what the rest of the team thought about all this? I work with (mostly) gentlemen and I think they would have made their objections loud and clear.

  20. 20
    Punchy says:

    Deadspin/Gawker had a bit on Incognito a few months back where it outlined just what a complete asshole Incognito’s been, since his college days at Nebraska. His dickishness is well-established and finely-honed. I hope for nothing but the worst for the fat prick.

  21. 21
    geg6 says:


    I got up this morning specifically for this. Still trying to get used to cheering for players I usually hate on. Glad I’m not Russian, though. I don’t think I could ever cheer for Ovechkin. ;-)

  22. 22
    geg6 says:


    Yep, I read that, too. What a dick that guy is. And like you, I hope he’s miserable for the rest of his life. And nothing in this new report surprised me because I had read the Gawker piece.

    I’ve known a few NFL and former NFL players. None of them come off dickish like Incognito. With only one exception who I won’t name, they are all super nice guys, not sociopathic at all. But all you need is one asshole who somehow is elevated to “team leader” and a coaching staff that is terrible and this is the result. Disgusting pigs who should be shunned by civilized people.

  23. 23
    raven says:

    @geg6: I’m lucky, I watch hockey every four years so I don’t know shit except USA USA! However, it is good to watch a sport populated by true gentlemen! KILL THE SONOFABITCH!

  24. 24
    raven says:

    @geg6: There was guy named Vito Santini, d-lineman at Illinois in the early 70’s. He’d randomly beat the shit out of longhairs until he got surrounded by a couple of guys, one with a gun, and told “no more”. He left. Also, Butkus was famous for the same kind of shit but just random, no hippies then.

  25. 25
    Schlemizel says:


    Big upset overnight – the Swedish women beat Finland and will play the US in the semi-final. Not as big an upset as Finland beating the US in the last 4 Nations cup but very surprising.

    Am watching the US/USSR game now – the officiating looks NHL level (not really a compliment) but the people doing the women’s games need red noses & orange fright wigs. They failed to review an obvious goal by Japan that would have tied the game against Germany and gave Canada a goal after the whistle even after review that gave them a win. Penalty calls have been a total mystery. Have seen many Olympic & national team games & these are hands down the worst ref, consistently just awful.

  26. 26
    Amir Khalid says:

    There’s still a USSR team in ice hockey? 20+ years after the end of the USSR itself?

  27. 27
    raven says:

    @Amir Khalid: He only said it because I did and I’m a nitwit.

  28. 28
    raven says:

    @Schlemizel: Net not in place???

  29. 29
    WaterGirl says:

    @geg6: how is your pup this morning?

    Edit: heading out to the farmer’s market but I will check back in when i return, hoping to hear good news.

  30. 30
    A Ghost To Most says:


  31. 31
    raven says:

    @WaterGirl: At Lincoln Square?

  32. 32
    raven says:

    This is nuts!!!!

  33. 33
    A Ghost To Most says:

    That was fun! USA wins.

  34. 34
    raven says:


  35. 35
    geg6 says:


    Thanks for asking! He’s actually doing pretty well. No more blood and he’s been a bit feisty this morning. It was probably just a bad bout with his colitis, but the bright red blood scared me since it’s never been that way when he’s had bloody stools in the past. It’s usually just been a little bit and more maroon-colored. He’s old and not very mobile and has lots of health issues, but I think we’ll have his beautiful face around a while longer. Thank FSM.

    Oh,, and USA! USA! USA! In a shootout, no less. That was a game that was worth getting up early for.

  36. 36
    Geeno says:

    @Amir Khalid: He’s reliving 1980.

  37. 37
    tk says:

    My experience with FB players in college is negative in almost all interaction I had with the psycho’s. This behavior is nothing less than psychopathic and it is ingrained at a very early age. The steriods don’t help things.

  38. 38
    WereBear says:

    Anne Laurie, I’m indebted to you about SB Nation. I don’t care a thing about sports, but the stories are incredible.

    It’s a mythology, and it seems its most pervasive and heart-breaking part is how the young people are told to succeed in sports and everything else would follow.

  39. 39
    Armadillo says:

    Richie Incognito has been a massive disciplinary problem in two colleges and everywhere he played in the NFL. The Dolphins then put him in charge of player discipline.

    This post should have hoocodanode attached to it.

  40. 40
    raven says:

    @tk: And mine was mostly positive. So the fuck what?

  41. 41
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    Third, the coach may not be “management”, so even if the coach witnessed it, it is a m

    atter of employees misbehaving and not a matter of the dolphins allowing a hostile workplace to persist.

    Employers are responsible for the behavior of their supervisor employees. Even if the coach is not management, he’s definitely a supervisor, and as such a management proxy. Court cases have firmly established that managers are responsible for behavior by their supervisors. Moreover, case law is also clear that even if the managers themselves are totally innocent of any harassment, if the workplace they manage is perceived as hostile by their employee and they don’t take action then they are still liable.

  42. 42
    Roger Moore says:


    I’ve known a few NFL and former NFL players. None of them come off dickish like Incognito.

    Unless you’ve seen them at work, though, you don’t know what they’re like as coworkers. I think one of the points people are missing about the “locker room culture” thing is that players are encouraged to behave worse toward their teammates than they would dream of being toward anyone else they know. They’re told that playing stupid macho games is part of being an athlete, being bullied makes rookies bond with the team, and similar bullshit, and those behaviors are made into formal group activities so they can’t back out.

  43. 43
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    Russia-USA Hockey.

    The USSR has been gone for over two decades now. Bastards. They really fucked up the MIC there until we found some other “existential” threat to insure that the CEOs of Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics, etc, get their bloated bonuses.

    On edit: I see Amir beat me to it.

    Raven: You are NOT a nitwit. As someone else said, you’re just reliving 1980. I was going to say something about “enlisted swine” but thought better of it. :P

  44. 44
    WaterGirl says:

    @raven: Yep. They call it the “middle market” in the winter, and it’s only once a month. Kind of disappointing this morning to see that there’s very little of the fruits and veggies variety, but I guess that’s not too surprising. There were apples, though. And wood workers and baked goods and crafts people and the flower guy. And the best food truck in town comes for the middle markets, too.

    Still, for someone like me who goes to the farmer’s market every single week while it’s open, it’s kind of nice to go just for the ritual, and as an act of faith that there will be a market again come springtime.

  45. 45
    WaterGirl says:

    @geg6: Yay for good news! We sure do love our guys.

  46. 46
    WaterGirl says:

    @WereBear: I am not the biggest sports people, either, but I religiously follow Dave Zirin.

    His tagline is: Where sports and politics collide. It’s one of my top 5 blogs.

  47. 47
    lol chikinburd says:

    Shootouts are abhorrent bullshit.

  48. 48
    SRW1 says:

    What is the metabolism of that Oshie guy running on? Anti-freeze?.

  49. 49
    Kathy in St. Louis says:

    Generally speaking, I never think about other people’s sexual proclivities,but Richie Incognito is either a.) a closet homosexual who is overcompensating or b.) has a serious steroid problem causing roid rage or c.) just about the biggest asshat to ever play a professional sport. Regardless of which of these or which combination of these may be true, he should be out of the game.

  50. 50
    Kathy in St. Louis says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: They were playing miserably at the time, losing a lot, and the word that I heard is that when it looked as if it was going to be a blowout, he was “injured” a lot. I’d have to look at the record to see how that all correlates, but that could be why he was let go, unceremoniously.

  51. 51
    aimai says:

    @Kathy in St. Louis: I read an interview with his father–the kid is a sociopath raised by one. He just literally never had a chance to become a good person. He’s not a closeted gay person–he is a power hungry, frightened, angry, person who uses whatever tool comes to hand–racism, sexism, homophobia, to demean his victims.

  52. 52
    Kathy in St. Louis says:

    @aimai: Then he definitely should be out of sports. He shouldn’t be rewarded for his psychopathy with a hefty paycheck. And the assistant coach who went along with this should be long gone as well. Here is St. Louis, we just hired an assistant coach who was involved in the Saints pay for hits scandal that came out a couple of years ago. Now that his suspension is over, we get him. It’s really sickening.

  53. 53
    Starlit says:

    @Schlemizel: This is the culture you graduate to after Penn State. There needs to be a No Assholes rule in sports, or else–as some rightwingers would clearly prefer–an Assholes Only rule for American football.

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