The saga involving Jonathan Martin and the reported bullying in the Miami Dolphins' locker room took another interesting twist on Sunday, as one of the players implicated in the reports—offensive lineman Richie Incognito—took to Twitter to refute the claims.
UPDATE: Sunday, Nov. 4, at 11:25 p.m. ET
Jeff Darlington of NFL.com reports that Incognito has been suspended indefinitely:
---End of update---
Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter of ESPN reported on Sunday that the NFL Players Association was not yet formally investigating Incognito in his possible role in any bullying, but reported that "sources tell ESPN that the matter is absolutely under review and preliminarily identifies Incognito as an alleged offender in multiple incidents of possible harassment and bullying over the past two seasons, with Martin not the only victim."
Incognito responded via Twitter:
One detail mentioned in the ESPN report is that Martin was required to contribute $15,000 for a trip to Las Vegas that he ultimately didn't even attend, doing so because he feared "the consequences if he did not hand over the money."
This type of issue seems to be systemic in the Miami locker room. Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald reported the following:
Beasley then retweeted the following posts from Dolphins defensive lineman Jared Odrick:
While rookie hazing is nothing new in the NFL, these types of reports suggest it may be dramatically out of hand in Miami. And more interestingly, it appears the Martin case is not an isolated incident and he may be going out on a limb to be a whistle blower in this case.
It would appear quite a lot is left to be uncovered in this case, though the process might be expedited if Martin directly implicated players. Doing so may alienate him if he does return to the team this season, however.
The Dolphins released the following statement in lieu of the claims being bandied about, via Tom Pelissero of USA Today:
The Miami Dolphins, including Coach Joe Philbin and Jonathan's teammates, have been in communication with Jonathan and his family since his departure from the club and continue to be in contact," the statement said.
Our primary concern for Jonathan is his overall health and well-being. As an organization, we take any accusations of player misconduct seriously.
The notion of bullying is based on speculation and has not been presented to us as a concern from Jonathan or anyone else internally. The reports that the NFLPA is investigating our players are inaccurate.
Additionally, the NFL offered its assistance during this time, which we appreciated and gladly accepted. We will continue to make Jonathan's health and well-being a focus as we do with all of our players.
Incognito certainly has a right to vehemently defend himself with the platform he has at his disposal, though remaining quiet while the incident is under investigation—or isn't under investigation, as currently appears to be the case—might have been the prudent approach.
Should he—along with his older veteran teammates—ultimately be found responsible for bullying and forcing younger players to provide lavish amounts of money for dinners and trips, beyond the norm, his tweets on Sunday are going to look very, very bad.