Devonte Keith | Staff Writer
NFL offensive guard Richie Incognito was recently suspended indefinitely from the Miami Dolphins football team due to his alleged harassment of teammate Jonathan Martin. Since the suspension, news has been spreading like wildfire as both parties share their side of the story.
According to ESPN, Incognito is being accused of bullying and intimidating Martin. Incognito pressured Martin to pay $15,000 for a trip for himself and other members of team. Martin refused to pay for the trip since he would not be attending. This stemmed a disturbing, racially-charged voicemail in which Incognito threatened Martin while using racial slurs. According to Yahoo! Sports, these voicemails not only caused Martin to file a complaint, but also caused him to leave the team.
Most of the NFL plays these actions off as innocent “rookie hazing,” which are meant to be part of the team building experience. Even though these hazing activities were meant to be innocent, several of Incognito’s teammates felt that he went too far. Incognito has a history of hazing teammates. According to USA Today, during his freshmen year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Incognito physically abused a teammate during practice until eventually the other player got fed up and walked off the field.
According to his teammate, Incognito plowed into his back for no reason. Incognito’s actions caused his teammate to quit the team. Incognito was later kicked off the University of Nebraska-Lincoln football team and has since then gained notoriety as the NFL’s Dirtiest Player, according to a 2009 survey by Sporting News. Incognito also has a history of getting into fights with his teammates, players from other teams, and even brawls in bars and nightclubs.
As Richie Incognito is undergoing fire from the media and the NFL, he continues to state that he isn’t racist despite the racial slurs he left on Martin’s voicemail. Ironically according to the Huffington Post, Incognito’s Dolphins teammates considered him to be an “honorary Black guy.” One of Incognito’s former teammates told Huffington, “Being a brother is more than just about skin color. It’s about how you carry yourself. How you play. Where you come from. What you’ve experienced. A lot of things.” To add to this, an article in the Miami Herald stated that Jonathan Martin’s teammates considered him soft. Because of this, a lot of his teammates were reluctant to accept him as a member on the team.
Even with America’s extensive history of separation based on race, situations such as Incognito’s are taken lightly simply because he’s the “cool white guy.” Sometimes the question is even raised whether statements or jokes are in blatant racism, or just in friendship. This issue also brings up the flaws in the current concept of having the “N-word pass.” Should African-American culture be jeopardized or thought less of simply because white counterparts are more aware and even involved in it?
Countless NFL athletes have heard Incognito throwing the N-word around in many situations. In fact, according to an article in the Miami Herald, Hall of Famer Warren Sapp was once knocked down and called the n-word by Incognito during a game. One has to wonder whether the words were out of sheer hate, or just to get in the opposing player’s head. Either way, maybe a small joke among friends is better left unsaid.