With an organized uniformity resembling a flying picket of bully solidarity, members of the Miami Dolphins are loudly and proudly proclaiming their love for suspended teamate and alleged racist bully Richie Incognito as well as their disgust for his accuser, second-year player Jonathan Martin.
Wide receiver Brian Hartline is “outraged” at Martin for coming forward. Tackle Tyson Clabo said that Martin “needs to stand up and be a man,” and added “I don’t know why he’s doing this.” And then there is quarterback and face of the franchise Ryan Tannehill who said that Incognito is “the best teammate I could’ve asked for.”
When players were asked whether Martin, who has two years left on his contract, can return to Miami’s locker room, as ESPN’s James Walker reported, “Several players declined to answer that question on Wednesday—almost out of spite.”
Some African American teammates have also said that Incognito’s use of the phrase “half n——-“, in reference to Martin was fine with them, with one player saying anonymously, “Richie is honorary. I don’t expect you to understand because you’re not black. But being a black guy, being a brother is more than just about skin color.” (No word whether Warren Sapp, who says that Incognito called him a n—-—during a game, sees Incognito as “honorary”.)
As his teammates trash him and applaud his abuser, Martin has checked himself into a mental health facility.
It is more than understandable why someone would look at this carnival of reaction and be sickened. But people should be cautious about directing their outrage solely at only those in the Dolphins organization who wear shoulder pads. I have spoken to several current and retired NFL players this week and they all say variations of the same thing: none of this happens without tacit or explicit approval from those on high. As former New England Patriot Ted Johnson put it to me, “People have to keep in mind that players do not have guaranteed contracts, so nothing happens that does not have the approval of the head coach, general manager or whoever is seen as being in charge.” This backs up reports in the Sun-Sentinel that Incognito was instructed by coaches to “toughen up” Martin after he missed a voluntary off-season workout.
Johnson and many others also said that no, they never heard white people on their teams calling their black teammates n—– in the locker room as some kind of accepted term of endearment. One player said that he never heard the n-word come out of a white person’s mouth unless it was a racist looking for a fight.