Miami Dolphins Coach Joe Philbin tried to restore order to his team Monday as the NFL continued to look into the Richie Incognito harassment allegations and incriminating video surfaced of the suspended offensive lineman using a racial slur.
Philbin told reporters that he would cooperate with the investigation and the Miami Herald reported that Incognito had no future with the team when his suspension was over. Incognito allegedly left Jonathan Martin, a second-year offensive lineman, a series of threatening voice mails and texts that were filled with profanities and racial slurs. Martin left the team and a pattern of behavior in which veterans used rookies “as ATMs,” according to the Herald, elevated the allegations from one of harmless hazing to harassment and focused a national debate on locker-room culture.
“I want you to know as head coach of the Miami Dolphins, I am in charge of the workplace atmosphere,” Philbin said (via ESPN). “Since April 10, 2012, when players first came here … Every decision I’ve made, everything we’ve done at this facility was done with one thing in mind: that is to help our players and our organization to reach their full potential. Any type of conduct and behavior that detracts from that objective will not be tolerated.”
Not long after he spoke, TMZ obtained a video (watch it here) in which Incognito is screaming a racial slur during a profanity-laced barroom screed during which one of his teammates, Mike Pouncey, is present and laughing. Pouncey recently was served with a grand-jury subpoena involving Aaron Hernandez.
Incognito, a talented player who has been dismissed by three teams over behavioral issues dating to his college days, is expected to defend himself “in a robust manner,” the Herald reports. “None of it shocks me,” New York Giants kicker Josh Brown, who played with Incognito in college at Nebraska and then with the St. Louis Rams, said (via the Associated Press). “I don’t know any of the details obviously. The league hasn’t released anything. Richie is … this seems to be a person with a tortured soul.”
Arizona’s Darnell Dockett wasn’t surprised that this was catching up to Incognito, who was fined $50,000 for head-butting in 2009. “That’s his whole makeup is to play dirty and hurt guys. Everybody knows that. I just don’t understand how he got away with it for so long. I think the NFL really needs to buckle down on it now, because it’s bigger than trying to hurt other guys, you’re trying to hurt guys on your team, mentally. Which sometimes can actually be worse than hurting someone physically.”
The NFL Players Association, which says it is monitoring the situation, issued a reminder today that it represents all players. “We expect that the NFL and its clubs create a safe and professional workplace for all players and that owners, executives, coaches and players should set the best standards and examples,” the NFLPA said in a statement issued this morning. “It is the duty of this union to hold the clubs and teams accountable for safety and professionalism in the workplace.
“As the representative organization of all players, the NFLPA will insist on a fair investigation for all involved. We will continue to remain in contact with the impacted players, their representatives and player leadership.”
With the Dolphins at 4-4, and the season entering a critical stretch in Philbin’s second season, wide receiver Mike Wallace stuck up for Incognito on Monday.
“I love Richie. I think he’s a great guy,” he said. “He’s an intense guy. Everybody knows that. I think he was just being Richie. I love playing with Richie. I wish he was here right now.”
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