We’ve been following the Jonathan Martin story since the young lineman stormed out of the Miami Dolphins’ cafeteria last week, and passed along information regarding Richie Incognito’s role in bullying his second-year teammate. Now that there is actual evidence of Incognito’s verbal assault on Martin, we have to wonder: Will the indefinitely-suspended Incognito play another down in the NFL?
First, a reminder: Not long ago, Incognito was considered one of the dirtiest players in the league. He’s had anger issues since his college days (and likely before that), when he was kicked off the Nebraska football team for doing things like beating up his teammates. He was the most penalized player in the NFL from 2006 to 2009, and was cut by the Rams after incurring two personal foul penalties and fighting with his coach in one game. He played with the Bills for one year, but the team didn’t resign him, which is how he ended up in Miami.
There’s always room in the league for talented players, regardless of their rap sheet, so it’s difficult to say that the Dolphins would have been Incognito’s last stop in the NFL. But based on the fact that Incognito was released by, at the time, some of the league’s worst teams tells you how low his standing was when he first signed with Miami in 2010.
He appeared to have turned his life around at that point — according to this NFL.com profile, Incognito stopped smoking weed, started taking Paxil, and reached out to teammate Ricky Williams to ask about meditation practices (he went on to complete the ” Deepak Chopra 21-Day Meditation Challenge” earlier this year). This season, he was part of the Dolphins leadership council.
Now, during the NFL’s investigation into the allegations of Dolphins players bullying Martin, the transcript of a voicemail Incognito left for Martin in April 2013 has been made public. For those who thought Riley Cooper’s Kenny Chesney debacle was bad, wait until you see this (via ESPN):
“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.”
Context is everything. If these guys were friends, and that kind of banter was common for both of them (because, let’s be honest, sometimes people say stupid things to each other), it might be okay. But clearly this kind of talk drove Martin to leave his passion and livelihood altogether rather than face another day at the facility with Incognito. Thus, this message constitutes a threat and should be treated as such.
Therefore, as Incognito sits out indefinitely — possibly until the end of the year — during the last season left on his contract, I wouldn’t be surprised if he never touched an NFL field again. This was Incognito’s third, fourth, or fifth chance, depending on when you started counting, and I can’t imagine another team taking the risk with him. That is, if the NFL doesn’t ban him altogether.
But don’t worry, Incognito fans.
You’ll still be able to catch Richie on the croquet field, where he demonstrated his skills while filming a PSA telling fans to act civilized at Dolphins games [insert laugh track]. [UPDATE: It’s been removed. Too much irony for YouTube to handle.]
Photo via Getty