The bully brotherhoood

Not surprisingly, Richie Incognito, the Miami Dolphins player suspended “for conduct detrimental to the team” was voted by his colleagues as the “NFL’s dirtiest player” in a 2009 Sporting News poll. So it’s not just one of his teammates who thinks he’s a bully who doesn’t play fair.

Incognito has had a lot to say since the story broke that his teammate Jonathan Martin left the team, citing bullying. A voicemail in which Incognito used a racist term, threatened to kill his teammate and threatened to slap Martin’s mother was made public and forced the Miami Dolphins to suspend Incognito, even as many of his teammates defended him, and blamed Martin for not “handling” the situation correctly. Incognito says people just don’t understand the locker room “brotherhood.”

In an interview with Fox Sports, Icognito accuses Martin of sending him a text, that sounds like the damning voicemail. Some might say it sounds like “blaming the victim.”

“A week before this went down, Jonathan Martin texted me on my phone — ‘I will murder your whole … family,’” Incognito said, quoting Martin as using a profanity. “Now did I think Jonathan Martin was going to murder my family? Not one bit. … I knew it was coming from a brother. I knew it was coming from a friend. I knew it was coming from a teammate. That just puts in context how we communicate with one another.”

Sure. Makes sense. “I will murder your whole family.” Just your average tough-guy, team-building talk.

Incognito told Fox that Martin sent him a friendly text four days after leaving the team the first time to undergo counseling for emotional issues. That’s probably true. He was trying to fit in. He likely hoped that one day the abuse would end, and he would be part of the team. But the “prank” that broke the camel’s back came last week when Martin sat down at a table to join a group of teammates for lunch in the cafeteria, and they got up and left. Martin reportedly flipped out, and left the facililty. Perhaps he couldn’t believe that adult, professional football players who were his teammates, turned out to be as juvenile and cruel as high school bullies.

All that baloney about being part of a “team” and that’s how they treat him. That’s how they “have his back.”

Incognito said he never sensed that the locker-room culture were getting to Martin. “As his best friend on the team, that’s what has me miffed — how I missed this,” Incognito said. “I never saw it coming.”

As they say, with friends like that, who needs enemies.

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