A Few Good Dolphins? New Report Says Coaches Told Incognito To Toughen Up Martin

220px-A_Few_Good_Men_poster250px-Richie_Incognito_only_MIA_vs_OAK_008The bullying scandal at the Miami Dolphins is taking a dangerous turn for the franchise. A new report states that coaches told suspended lineman Richie Incognito to “toughen up” teammate Johnathan Martin after the latter player missed part of the team’s offseason workout program. Since Incognito already had a reputation for violence and dirty play, such an order would raise a serious question of management knowledge and implied approval of the treatment of Martin. It is a football version of the premise of a Code Red in “A Few Good Men.”

The South Florida Sun Sentinel is reporting that Incognito was encouraged by Dolphins coaches to “get [Martin] into the fold” after he missed OTA practices. While not required, OTAs are a sign of commitment to the team. There is also the question of the abusive rule that rookies have to pay for more senior players for expensive dinners and trips. One such bill came to $55,000. I have only heard of such a tradition in the mafia for newly “made men.” It is hard to believe that the coaches were not aware of such a practice.

The voicemail by Incognito could be defended as “trash talking” meant to toughen up a more junior player:

“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.”

Incognito’s teammates have come to his defense and said that Martin was laughing about the voicemail after it was sent and that Incognito was viewed as his best friend on the team.

The suspension of Incognito demonstrates that such hazing will not be tolerated. However, if coaches gave their implied support for such pressure, shouldn’t they face the same fate?

Clearly, if the account is true, the coaches could argue that it is common to ask more senior players to mentor younger players. Incognito would appear a curious choice given his history of fighting with players and coaches and prior arrests.

That raises the question of whether Martin could sue not only Incognito for intentional infliction of emotional distress but sue the Dolphins for negligence as well as intentional or negligent infliction. It would raise a question of respondeat superior in the use of Incognito. Even if such vicarious liability is not well-founded, a straight negligence claim could be made. The decision of the team to suspend Incognito could be used as a defense as a prompt and strong response to the allegation.

The analogy to a code red could make for an interesting trial.

If Dolphin coach Joe Philbin is called to testify, I have prepared the following statement:

NFL Commissioner, you can’t handle the truth! …We play in a game that has lines, and those lines have to be guarded by men with guts. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Martin, and you curse the Dolphins. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Martin’s withdrawal, while tragic, probably saved games. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves games. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that field, you need me on that field. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very entertainment that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a helmet and stand a line. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.

Of course some would say that as a Bears fan, I am only giving legal advice under an obvious conflict of interest. However, if delivered properly, who knows?

21 thoughts on “A Few Good Dolphins? New Report Says Coaches Told Incognito To Toughen Up Martin

  1. Suspension is not enough. If the allegations are true, Incognito should be done as a football player and the entire Dolphin coaching staff that knew about the policies should be gone and banned from football. Suspensions won’t stop these same actors from doing it all over again.

  2. I hope he retains you as his attorney in the suit against the Dolphins. At least you may be able to get some licks in against the enemies of da Bearzz.

  3. “… such an order would raise a serious question of management knowledge and implied approval of the treatment of Martin. It is a football version of the premise of a Code Red in ‘A Few Good Men’.” – JT

    Great analogy.

  4. Martin, as most probably know, hails from Stanford. A little more about the cafeteria “prank”:


    “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.””

  5. “What The Miami Dolphins Are Teaching The Rest Of Us About Workplace Bullying”



    “”As the incident went public, some speculated that Martin must be suffering from underlying psychological issues because his response to a joke seemed to be overly-sensitive. Plus, the Dolphins attributed Martin’s departure to a non-football illness and used the type of language that would make most people believe the man had simply “snapped.” In the same statement, the team said that the “notion of bullying is based on speculation and has not been presented to us as a concern from Jonathan or anyone else internally.”

    No one should be surprised that Martin hid his feelings about being bullied from team management and never formally let them know about what allegedly transpired. People who are bullied by their co-workers aren’t likely to confront their attacker. They are also often dismissed as being overly-sensitive to jokes or criticism, regarded as having “personal issues,” and considered as being out-of-touch with their workplace culture and how work gets done there.

    Workplace bullying takes on many forms. And it creates dysfunctional work environments. Research by Sandy Herschcovis and Julian Barling found that people who were on the receiving end of aggressive behavior by co-workers ended up with lower levels of job satisfaction, supervisor satisfaction, work commitment, and psychological well-being, but higher levels of work-related stress and intent to find another job.

    Aggressive behavior in the workplace is something that managers often find difficult respond to, no less recognize and understand. That alone is one big reason why bullies continue to get away with pushing people around.”

  6. I listened all day yesterday to discussions of this issue, first on NYC’s WFAN with Mike Francessa and then on Miami’s “The Ticket” with Dan Lebetard. Which both broadcasters decried the treatment of Martin, Francessa’s phone calls were mainly from fans who felt Martin should have “manned up” against Incognito. As Francessa explained Incognito has a long history of incidents and a reputation as the dirtiest player in the NFL. He has been described as a scary and crazy person. The point he made to his callers is that even though
    Martin is about 6’5″, 320 lbs. he was probably no match for Incognito. Then too Martin was a Stanford player and is probably fairly intelligent. He correctly didn’t see fighting as an alternative, so “manning up” was not a viable solution. Also given what we see coming out about the teams coaches today going to them probably wasn’t an alternative either.

    On the Miami based Lebetard show a correspondent had been interviewing
    Dolphin players. Everyone he interviewed was on Incognito’s side and the implication was that Martin was a sissy for having his agent go public with the story. This shocked Lebetard and company.

    Anyone that has followed football and other sports seriously know that there is a culture and tradition of hazing rookies. It is despicable, but it exemplifies the macho that infuses many athletes and has the approval of some of the more antediluvian fans. From my beloved NY Mets there is the history of two rookie stars that were lost because they were badly treated and the team was forced to trade them because of these rookies “bad attitudes” of protesting the hazing. One was Jeff Kent, who is probably a Hall of Fame second baseman.
    When he was traded to the Mets in his rookie year the veterans ordered him to dress in a silly costume in the locker room. He told them to go ++++ themselves and was labelled as having a bad attitude. Also about the same time rookie phenomenon Gregg Jefferies came to the big league club and was hazed mercilessly because he was predicted to be a great player. Jefferies finally went public about it and had to be traded away for exposing this social norm. Years later Keith Hernandez who was a team leader admitted that they treated bot players harshly and it wasn’t right and eventually hurt them team.

    In football such treatment of rookies has been well known for years including forcing them to pay exorbitant sums for dinners, etc. This has been looked at benignly by many sports pundits as a right of passage. The average lifespan of a player in pro football is a mere 2 1/2 years. While everyone is well paid for rookies the amount of financial burden can, as in the case of Dez Bryant put them into massive debt. If their career doesn’t work out they will have squandered a potential financial windfall due to a stupid prank. This offends me as does the whole idea of hazing. I refused to join fraternities in college because of it and I’ve also related here how five friends and I help destroy the tradition of College Freshman Hazing at the small University I attended.

    Nevertheless, in the macho world of professional sports many coaches look at this as an exercise in “team building” and in this instance I would think that the Dolphins and their coaching staff would be liable for any damages done to Martin’s career, which may well be over after this. I think hazing of any sort is just plain stupid and an example of institutional bullying that would best be eradicated.

    There is the story from the NY Yankees of the promising rookie Bernie Williams being treated mercilessly by the veteran Mel Hall. Bernie was a very sensitive and shy man who developed into a great ballplayer. At the time he was a rookie Hall was harassing him constantly. This ended when team leader Don Mattingly stepped in backed up by Manager Gene Michael. One would have thought that the Dolphin’s players, or the coaches would have stepped in with Martin, but no one did because Incognito was a star (and scary to boot) and Martin was not.

  7. LOL, on a good day when I think of football I think ‘gayest sport ever’ and on a day when I read a story like this one I think ‘certifiable mental illness’.

    The problem with football is the same problem we have with energy companies and bakers, the money is so big that nothing short of putting people in jail is effective to change the mentality. Everything short of incarceration is just a slap on the wrist, a wink and a nod that accomplishes nothing overall.

    Bullying is just one aspect of the issue IMO. Considering the track record on disabling (brain) injuries I don’t even know why football (and boxing) are still allowed to be played. None of my hypothetical kids are allowed to play football or enroll in martial arts training.

  8. Basic Training, hazing, torture….. Or…. The bully never grew up….. I think I heard that this had been sanctioned by the management…..

    But the gladiators and owners of the coliseum should get what they pay for….

  9. “None of my hypothetical kids are allowed to play football or enroll in martial arts training.” (lotta)

    I want to arrange a play date for my 5 year old grandchild with your hypotheticals. :)

  10. Is Professor T exceeding the scope of his expertise when suggesting a lawsuit for negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress? I don’t know Florida’s rules regarding workers’ compensation as an exclusive remedy, but in California a co-worker and the employer would be immune from such a claim.

    On the other hand, if a white person calling someone else a “half n—–” could be considered harassment on the grounds of race, Martin might have a chance.

  11. Perhaps I posted too quickly. In Alcorn v. Anbro Engineering, Inc.
    2 Cal. 3d 493 (1970), the California Supreme Court said that the one exception to workers-compensation exclusivity for infliction of emotional distress was when a supervisor called an employee an n—–.

  12. maybe martin feels that the dealing with the good old boys bs isnt worth his time.. it certainly so far hasnt been worth his money!! the great news is i no longer have to watch incognito ( the wuss of the century) try to kill every player he comes into contact with.. at least for a while… obviously the reason he was kept around so long is because of his (maim ) them attitude. now let’s hope the entire coaching team is replaced by people with common sense and decency…

  13. @Lottakatz

    Thank goodness someone is finally exposing “Big Baking.” I understand there is a lot of dough to be made in that business. ;-)

  14. MSHuiner, Well played sir, well played! :-)

    LOL, an edit function would help WP but some of the postings wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining.

    Blouise, My hypotheticals would be delighted.

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