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:
Richie Incognito was advised by Joe Philbin tonight he has been indefinitely suspended by team while NFL investigates, Incognito tells me.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) November 4, 2013
---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:
@espn shame on you for attaching my name to false speculation. I won't be holding my breathe for an apology— Richie incognito (@68INCOGNITO) November 3, 2013
@AdamSchefter Stop slandering my name. You hide behind "sources" who are not man enough to put their name behind the BS you report— Richie incognito (@68INCOGNITO) November 3, 2013
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:
I can now report this: This is a HUGE issue inside the Dolphins' locker room, and not just limited to this situation.— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) November 3, 2013
One young defensive player, whose privacy I'm protecting, has literally gone broke because he's been pressured to pay for older players.— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) November 3, 2013
They've gotten sucked into the Miami lifestyle, and the veterans are using the younger players as an ATM, I'm told.— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) November 3, 2013
Recently, a younger player was handed the tab for a $30,000 team dinner. The rookie minimum this year is around $400.000.— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) November 3, 2013
Beasley then retweeted the following posts from Dolphins defensive lineman Jared Odrick:
Everything tastes better when rookies pay for it pic.twitter.com/KGaisEfap2— Jared Odrick (@JaredOdrick98) November 2, 2013
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.