WASHINGTON – Well, Miami, you’ve got yourself a full-blown controversy.
For more than a week now, the talk both inside and outside of NFL circles is the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin saga. For close to 10 days, everyone with a mic and an opinion has weighed in on bullying, locker-room culture, and where the line should be drawn when it comes to rookie hazing.
My take? I need more information.
Here’s what we know: Incognito said some pretty disturbing things to Martin via voicemail. Martin feels threatened enough by his treatment in the Dolphins locker room to want to be elsewhere. We also know that locker-room atmosphere either cultivated, or was complicit in, Incognito’s behavior.
What we don’t know is the full context involved.
Incognito tried to lend some of that context in his interview with Fox’s Jay Glazer on Sunday, and I thought he was rather articulate in his defense — far from the meathead he’s been portrayed to be. Not every part of his account adds up, but until we hear from Martin, it’s pretty difficult to really piece together just what happened down in South Florida.
One thing I think is lost in all of this is that we’re viewing these remarks in a vacuum. For example, if you were to read texts or a bland transcription of the banter between me and my siblings, I’m not so sure we wouldn’t get a similar reaction. But such interactions are the result of years of closeness (and an unusual thick skin), whereas Incognito should have known the first rule of communication: Know your audience.
That’s not meant as an excuse for Incognito. Regardless of whether Martin could take it or not, Incognito clearly crossed a line. Yes, he regrets not getting a better read on Martin, but any non-black person who uses the N-word so brazenly does so at the risk of being on the receiving end of a fist to the piehole.
That’s why I’m anxious to hear from Martin. I’m typically against shifting the burden of proof onto the victim, but in this case I’d like to actually hear the full scope of things so we know if Martin is indeed the victim, or if this is more of a classic case of being able to dish it out and later finding he can’t take it.
Either way, Martin has pulled back the curtain on a culture that frowns upon outside scrutiny. I’ve never played a professional sport, but I know enough to know that an NFL locker room is about men banding together for one common cause. The better ones promote brotherhood and unity. If you choose to be on the periphery, or — worse yet — reveal to the public how the NFL sausage is made … you’re going to have problems.
There’s just so many layers to this story that it’s hard to even get a grasp on what the root of it is. Is this about mental health, bullying, a poor locker-room environment or all of the above?
No matter how you slice it, both guys are likely done in Miami (and probably, some management types along with them). Regardless of how this plays out, it’s going to be a lasting stain on the Dolphins’ season — and the beginning of the end for a pair of somewhat-promising careers.
In the end, nobody wins.
But 14 teams won in Week 10. Let’s recap them, shall we?
Redskins 27 Vikings 34
Yes, the Redskins are 3-6 again. Just like they were last year, when they ran off seven wins in a row to win the NFC East. Even though they’re healthier than they were in 2012, history won’t repeat itself … they’re 1-5 in the conference and 0- 2 in the division. This season is officially lost.
Bengals 17 Ravens 20 (OT)
Baltimore blew a 17-0 first-half lead, gave up a “Hail Mary” on the last play of regulation, but still found a way to win. That’s both very promising and very troubling for a team that’s within a game and a half of first place.
Seahawks 33 Falcons 10
This wasn’t just Seattle’s revenge for last year’s playoff loss. This was just plain kicking a man while he’s down.
Lions 21 Bears 19
Considering Aaron Rodgers will likely miss a good chunk of the season and Jay Cutler is having trouble staying on the field, the NFC North just became Detroit’s to lose.
Eagles 27 Packers 13
Green Bay is running out of quarterbacks at a rate so alarming, it’s almost not ridiculous to start wondering if they get desperate enough to place a call to Brett Favre. Almost.
Jaguars 29 Titans 27
Enjoy this win, Jacksonville. It might be your last.
Have you looked at New York’s schedule the next three weeks? Green Bay (with a third- or fourth-string QB), Dallas (sporting the league’s worst defense) and at Washington (I think we’ve all seen how their season’s going). It’s kind of shaping up for them to start the season 0-6 and run off six straight wins. Inconceivable.
Bills 10 Steelers 23
I know all parties involved are denying it, but I’m not so sure it wouldn’t be a good thing for Ben Roethlisberger to move on. If Pittsburgh is 6-10 or worse at season’s end, don’t be surprised if this becomes more of a storyline.
Panthers 10 Niners 9
OK, folks. It’s time to take Carolina seriously. It’s one thing to feast on the Rams, Vikings and Bucs. It’s another thing to go into San Fran and shut down the Niners. I hope New Orleans is paying attention … they face this vaunted Panthers D twice in December, and it’s starting to look like those two games will decide the NFC South.
Texans 24 Cardinals 27
In case you missed it, Arizona is 5-4. This is a first-place team if they play in the NFC East.
And one of the many shames in Houston this season is that Case Keenum looks like he can play, but he’s getting no help.
Rob Ryan waves to the crowd after the Saints beat the Cowboys Sunday. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Cowboys 17 Saints 49
Let’s just call this “Rob Ryan’s Revenge.” His Saints unit gave up only 192 yards, while the Dallas defense gave up 392 yards and four TDs to Drew Brees AND 242 yards and three TDs on the ground to a New Orleans team that typically doesn’t even try to run.
For the rest of this season, we’ll call them “The Allas Cowboys” … as in, no D.
Dolphins 19 Buccaneers 22
I don’t know what ESPN did to the NFL to deserve this run of Monday night stinkers … but they really need to start making amends.