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Chris Queen

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November 6, 2013 - 9:00 am
Jonathan Martin took a leave of absence from the Miami Dolphins on October 28.

Jonathan Martin took a leave of absence from the Miami Dolphins on October 28.

Football fans love drama. The back and forth of close games, the thrill of a come-from-behind victory, the outsized personalities — all of these make for plenty of excitement in the NFL. However, one team is making headlines for its off-the-field drama far more than for its on-the-field antics these days. The Miami Dolphins have suddenly found themselves embroiled in a controversy involving player hazing, bullying, and harassment, with the added twist of apparent racism.

The soap opera began last week when second -ear offensive tackle Jonathan Martin took a leave of absence from the team, claiming other players bullied him.

Martin left Dolphins headquarters on Monday when finally reaching his limit with the persistent bullying and teasing from some teammates that has plagued him since joining Miami as a 2012 second-round draft choice. As first reported by FOX Sports NFL insider Jay Glazer, the latest taunt – a group of players stood up and left when he tried joining them for lunch – led to Martin getting up himself and walking out the door.

There is no timetable for a return, which could lead Miami to ultimately place him on the reserve/non-football injury list. It also raises questions about his future with the franchise.

This wasn’t an abrupt action by Martin, who is Stanford-educated and the son of two lawyers who attended Harvard University. A source said Martin has tried dealing with a slew of indignities that crossed into personal and family insults, including being bestowed with the nickname of “Big Weirdo.”

(L-R) Richie Incognito, Jonathan Martin

Martin’s decision led to further allegations detailing how veteran players treated rookies. The Miami Herald reported that Martin and other unnamed players maintain that older players forced rookies to pay for expensive meals and trips for other team members.

Young Dolphins players are under pressure to dig deep into their pockets to pay for veterans’ social outings, a practice that is straining their finances and locker room chemistry, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation.

These allegations come on the heels of an ESPN report Sunday morning that [guard Richie] Incognito pressured Martin into paying $15,000 for an unofficial team vacation to Las Vegas — a trip that Martin, an offensive tackle, didn’t even join.

The Dolphins said Sunday night they suspended Incognito indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team.

According to a statement from the team, “We believe in maintaining a culture of respect for one another, and as a result we believe this is in the best interests of the organization at this time.”

One young defensive player, whose privacy the Miami Herald is protecting, is on his way to going broke because he has been unable to say no to the older players, a source said.

“Everything tastes better when rookies pay for it,” veteran defensive end Jared Odrick wrote on Twitter over the weekend. “Yes, the bill would make you sick.”

Younger players were handed the tab for a $30,000 team dinner, according to a source. The rookie minimum salary this year is about $400,000.

Will Davis, a rookie cornerback, tweeted Sunday: “The bill was definitely split. . . . They would never put that on one man to pay for it all. Haha now that would be crazy . . .”

Martin pointed out troubled teammate Richie Incognito as the ringleader, which led to his suspension. Incognito chose not to live up to his name, vehemently denying his involvement via Twitter. He went after both individual reporters and networks demanding that they clear his name — his tweets also included quotes from Winston Churchill and Buddha. However, ESPN and the Herald learned of harassing voicemails and texts which Incognito left Martin over a period of several months.

Multiple sources confirmed to ESPN that the following is a transcript of a voice message Incognito left for Martin in April 2013, a year after Martin was drafted:

“Hey, wassup, you half n—– piece of s—. I saw you on Twitter, you been training 10 weeks. [I want to] s— in your f—ing mouth. [I'm going to] slap your f—ing mouth. [I'm going to] slap your real mother across the face [laughter]. F— you, you’re still a rookie. I’ll kill you.”

Sources tell ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that officials from both the NFL and the Dolphins have heard the tape and have copies of the message.

Sources familiar with the tapes say these are terms Incognito used over time and were not isolated incidents, including the use of the racial epithet multiple times.

Sources also say Martin received a series of texts that included derogatory terms referring to the female anatomy and sexual orientation.

Incognito & Martin at Spring Workouts

Incognito & Martin at spring workouts

While other Dolphins players had nice things to say about Incognito, rumors persist that Incognito’s indefinite suspension will lead to a dismissal.

[Head Coach Joe] Philbin didn’t need a review to part ways with Incognito, however. The batch of messages provided to the team was enough to make up his mind.

“He’s done,” a ranking club source said Monday. “There are procedures in place, and everyone wants to be fair. The NFL is involved. But from a club perspective, he’ll never play another game here.”

Incognito’s troubled history includes dismissals from two different college teams for fighting and partying, verbal altercations with NFL coaches, and winning the title Dirtiest Player in the NFL in a 2009 Sporting News reader survey — which he called a “badge of honor.” (In a laughable irony, he appears in the team’s video urging fans to behave in a civilized manner.) And apparently, Incognito has a reputation with members of the press and other members of the Dolphins organization as being a bully.

Meanwhile, over at CBS, Jason LaCanfora paints an ugly picture of Incognito. He says…Incognito likes to intentionally walk into people, make “others feel uncomfortable and make threatening remarks” to Martin.

Philbin has promised to cooperate with the Dolphins organization as well as with the NFL “[e]ven if it costs him his job, which is a possibility.” Time will tell how this story will play out, but in the meantime, one can’t help but hope that the issues between Martin and Incognito are not merely the tip of an iceberg.

***

See more: Dolphins’ Coaches Reportedly Told Richie Incongito To Toughen Up Jonathan Martin

All Chris Queen wanted to be growing up was a game show host, a weather man, or James Bond. But his writing talent won out. By day, Chris is a somewhat mild-mannered church communications director, but by night, he keeps his finger on the pulse of pop culture and writes about it. In addition to his Disney obsession (as evidenced by his posts on this website), Chris's interests include college sports -- especially his beloved Georgia Bulldogs -- and a wide variety of music. A native of Marietta, GA, Chris moved with his family as a child to nearby Covington, GA, where he still makes his home. He is an active charter member of Eastridge Community Church and enjoys spending time with family and friends. In addition to his work at PJ Media, Chris spent nearly a year as a contributor to NewsReal Blog. He has also written for Celebrations Magazine and two newspapers in Metro Atlanta. Check out his website, www.chrisqueen.net.

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All Comments   (14)
All Comments   (14)
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1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So they don't have a sensitivity counselor like the Niners? Well, maybe the Raiders will want him?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The rookie payment of team fine dining, etc., would that be taxable income to the diners?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Incognito never grew out of his junior high bully phase. Calling another grown man on the phone to verbally harass him? Sorry Richie, you are no longer allowed to sit at the grownups table.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Incognito will only be able to work for the Hells Angels MC.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Incognito is a POS and went over board for sure but Jonathan Martin is a grown man. A gigantic strong man. Yet he let some guy punk him out of his money and his dignity. This could have been handled by Martin stepping up and stopping this by bringing the issue to his teammates or just giving Incognito a four piece combo to his face.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It's a shame Incognito's teammates didn't rectify the problem and let it get to the League because hazing newcomers is close to universal and has a real purpose. Usually it is a good-natured way of letting newcomers know they have a lot to learn, need to ask questions and should follow the lead of the veterans. Incognito's acts didn't fit this.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
$15,000 for a trip he didn't even take part in? That's not hazing, that's theft. And the amount should make it a felony.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I would liken it to extortion under implied threat of retaliation.

It's no wonder the 80% of professional football players are bankrupt within 2 years of leaving the league. They find out in the real world that physical intimidation don't mean squat.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Actually it's because they live way beyond their means.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Greetings:

Now wait just a gosh-darned minute. I thought that the WWE was the soap opera for football fans.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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