Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin are both to blame, Antrel Rolle says

November 5, 2013

Antrel Rolle thinks Jonathan Martin should have stood up for himself. (Bill Kostroun / AP)

Jonathan Martin, the Miami Dolphins’ offensive lineman who left the team allegedly because of bullying behavior by Richie Incognito, is just as much to blame for the situation as Incognito, according to one NFL player.

“Was Richie Incognito wrong? Absolutely,” New York Giants safety Antrel Rolle said Tuesday on WFAN’s “Joe & Evan” show. “But I think the other guy is just as much to blame because he’s allowed it to happen.”

Rolle said he’d never permit another player to force him to pay for an exorbitant meal or be used as “an ATM,” as the Miami Herald says Dolphins rookies were by veterans. He admitted he’d been thrown in cold tubs and picked up the tab on a meal or two as a rookie, but there was nothing like the $15,000 Martin allegedly was forced to pay up. Rolle, too, was a first-round draft pick — far more highly compensated than Martin.

“You know, at this level, you’re a man. You’re not a little boy,” he said. “You’re not a freshman in college. You’re a man. So I think everything has its limits. So there’s no way that another man is gonna make me pay for something that I choose not to pay for.”

The departure of Martin triggered a national conversation about whether the NFL has a bullying problem. Rolle doesn’t think it does.

“Hazing is hazing,” Rolle said. “You’re gonna go through it at the collegiate level, you’re gonna go through it at the professional level. But once it gets beyond that point and once it becomes a personal thing, that’s where the problems [set in]. As teammates, it’s extremely important that you respect one another. Doesn’t matter if it’s a rookie. Doesn’t matter if it’s a 10-year vet. Doesn’t matter if it’s a Pro Bowler. Respect is a must within a locker room.”

Martin left the team last week and reportedly is with his family and undergoing counseling. Incognito was suspended Monday by the Dolphins as the NFL looks into the matter. Rolle thinks Martin would be welcomed back into a locker room and would be comfortable. “This league is not built of men who try to bully other men. … Hopefully he’s able to bounce back and recover from all that has happened and understand it, and take awareness of, you know, that, you’re a grown-[rhymes with grass] man,” Rolle said. “You need to stand up for yourself There’s no punkiness that should be going on at the NFL level. Hazing is one thing. Bullying is another.”

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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Cindy Boren | November 5, 2013