MIAMI – Tough love advocates and opponents of anti-bullying efforts have come out in defense of embattled Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito, saying his actions that led to teammate Jonathan Martin quitting were “all in good fun” and really just illustrate that most hazing and harassment involves “minor, childish matters” that most people can just ignore.
“Here we go again,” lamented Jarvis Begich, author of “Deal with It: Your Guide to Living with the Bullies.” “Here comes the nanny state to tell us we need to be careful with each other’s feelings and that the victim is always in the right. How much longer will we put up with authority telling us how we can or cannot speak to each other? Thin-skinned people like this are why my son isn’t allowed at public schools anymore.”
Ann Lundergan, leader of Toughen Up America, called Martin a “pussy” and said he should be “embarrassed by the fact that a professional football player can’t put up with what our children deal with every day.”
“I mean, it’s not like Incognito crossed any lines,” Lundergan said. “All he did was try to make a teammate feel small and inferior based on differences between them in terms of skin color and hierarchical seniority within the organization. I say it out loud like that and I just don’t see the problem.”
Officials from the NFL and the Dolphins obtained a recording of a voicemail Incognito left for Martin that went as follows:
“Hey, wassup, you half-nig*er piece of shit. I saw you on Twitter, you been training 10 weeks. [I want to] sh*t in your fuc*ing mouth. [I’m going to] slap your fuc*ing mouth. [I’m going to] slap your real mother across the face [laughter]. Fu*k you, you’re still a rookie. I’ll kill you.”
Such language was apparently typical of Incognito, who was suspended by two different college teams and released by the Rams after multiple fouls and an argument with coach Steve Spagnuolo.
In addition to putting up with the language, Martin and other young Dolphins player were expected to pay for older players’ social outings personally, according to The Miami Herald, a financial burden that could run tens of thousands of dollars. But New York Jets quarterback David Garrard, who was briefly a Dolphin himself, said that “schoolyard hijinks aside,” losing a substantial portion of a rookie’s salary is well worth the treat of hanging out with a charming jester like Incognito.
“I would just say he’s a jokester kind of guy,” Garrard told ESPN. “A good guy, but, like all of us, you want to have your fair shake of pranks and stuff like that.”
In a 2009 players’ poll, Incognito was voted the “dirtiest player” in the NFL.