Going Incognito: The reality of Hazing in the NFL

St. Scholastica's Student Newspaper
The Cable
By: Grant Hartmann - Student Journalist -
Incognito's scandal has gone viral. Photo credit to cbssports.com.

Incognito's scandal has gone viral. Photo credit to cbssports.com.

Richard Incognito is a NFL lineman, and he's a mean one. Richie Incognito has been in the National Football League since 2005 and has had a series of anger problems well before that. He was an all-Big 12 lineman for Nebraska before he was kicked off his team for a series of assaults inside and outside of practice finally convinced the coaches to not allow him to come back.  He then tried play for the University of Oregon before he was not allowed to join the team after not cooperating with the coach's wishes, which was rumored to be anger management therapy.

At the NFL draft he was noted by some scouts for being "one of the strongest and most explosive players in the draft" but slipped to the third round.  Espn scouts Inc. noted that, "his inability to control his emotions both on and off the field is such a significant concern that he'll likely slip to the later rounds of the draft". Incognito was drafted by the Rams and quickly earned a reputation as one of the dirtiest but most productive players in the league. After being released from the Rams and Bills for problems relating to off the field anger issues and the occasional sexual harassment charge until Incognito was signed by the Dolphins in 2010. Incognito fit in extremely well with the dolphins earning a 3 year contract in 2011. Incognito even won the good guy award for the dolphins given to players who make a difference in their local communities.

Johnathan Martin is a Stanford grad who was drafted by the Dolphins in 2012. As a first round draft pick in the NFL hazing is expected, usually in the form of bogus fines or paying for some veteran's dinner.

On October 30th 2013 Martin had to leave the Dolphins practice facility citing emotional reasons. He then proceeded to miss the team's game the next day to an "unspecified injury" and then left the team. Martin then flew to his parents' home. On November 2nd Incognito was suspended for "conduct detrimental to the team", then on the third it was reported that Incognito had sent threatening texts to Martin. The text transcripts were released and needless to say they were offensive, threatening, racist and emotionally distressing. The next day, a Dolphins source told The Miami Herald that "Incognito will never play another down for the Dolphins again, and that the team intends to cut ties with him at the earliest opportunity".

Incognito's career seems to be over and Martins career seems to be in serious jeopardy. However, in a recent interview Incognito claimed that he and Martin were the best of friends and that Martin doesn't blame him, but rather the culture around him. Furthermore, Incognito has apologized for the racist comment, but says that it was how the Dolphin locker room communicates and not a malicious attack on his teammate.

We like to believe that bullying ends on the schoolyard but it extends into adulthood, sometimes with serious consequences. This should serve as a reminder that no matter how big someone is, everyone still has feelings.

By Grant Hartmann
ghartmann@css.edu