Miami blues

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere.

This recent locker room drama down in South Beach has everything that makes media members' faces blush and their hearts melt. It's drama, it's scandal, it has a racial component, it's bad vs. evil but then again, the full truth is still incognito.

We have a collection of statements from all sides and from both ends of the spectrum, we have friends defending friends and we have transcripts to raunchy voice messages that make Riley Cooper look like Bono.

What are we supposed to believe? Is Richie Incognito the anti-Christ, or did he just take rudimentary locker room hi-jinx too far? Is Jonathan Martin a sympathetic victim, or was he just too weak mentally to take the kind of tough-love every NFL yearling receives?

My guess is that we will never be able to answer those questions with full conviction because none of us were in that locker room. We didn't see Incognito and Martin interact every day. We don't know what was going through Incognito's mind and heart while he was dealing with Martin.

We do know that Incognito has been suspended by the Dolphins, and Martin has taken a leave of absence.

Many have said that this absence is due to him not being able to take the constant bullying of Incognito, but many Dolphin players have come to the aid of Incognito and said that all the bullying allegations are unfair.

They paint the picture of Incognito being a team leader and only riding Martin to get him to perform better on the field. Some have even gone on to say that Incognito took Martin under his wing, and the two had a big brother-little brother type of relationship.

Then came reports by The Sun Sentinel that played out like a remake of "A Few Good Men."

They say that the Dolphin coaching staff encouraged Incognito to cut into Martin so that he would get toughened up during the spring after Martin missed a voluntary team workout.

I can see it now. Head coach Joe Philbin sits behind the witness stand as Commissioner Roger Goodell forcefully asks, "Did you order the Code Red?" And eventually this will lead to Philbin shouting that famous line, "You can't handle the truth!"

I gotta say, I much rather the original. Sorry, Philbin, you're no Jack Nicholson.

But just like Dawson and Downey, Incognito apparently took his orders too far.

After examining the whole situation, I still don't know who is right, who is wrong, who is telling the truth or who is lying. However, here are some conclusions I've drawn.

This cannot be judged like an ordinary bully case. These are grown men, built like tanks in a place unique from any other workplace. There is no V-chip in the locker room, no seven forbidden words, no political correctness and no nurturing Kumbaya sing-alongs.

It is something no outsider would understand. To quote former Dolphin Channing Crowder, "it's a bunch of testosterone-filled alpha males who are trying to find their place on the totem pole."

I think all three parties involved--Incognito, Martin and the Dolphin coaching staff--made mistakes along the way.

If the reports are true, the coaching staff should have never told Incognito to ride Martin to make him tougher. This isn't the military. You're not Colonel Nathan Jessep. Your orders will not "save lives." Back off.

There is nothing wrong with a little hazing here and there; every team has it. There is nothing wrong with Incognito riding Martin to try to make him a better, stronger player, but leave that in the locker room and on the field.

Once he exits the team facility, leave him alone. Don't constantly call him and leave harassing messages on his phone.

And even if Incognito was just messing around, you never ever call someone the N-word; that's taking it way too far.

And when it comes to Martin, he should have made a stand. If he didn't like what Incognito was doing, he should have drawn a line in the dirt and told him to stop.

And if that wasn't a viable option for him, he should have told the coaches or management and tried to get the situation resolved in-house.

Unfortunately, all three parties dropped the ball. As a result, they have to deal with the long-standing consequences that are to come.

Philbin looks like he has no control of his team and encourages a hostile locker room.

Incognito will forever be painted as a racist, a bigot, a bully and a straight up bad guy no matter what he does. But then again, he had most of those marks against him before this incident ever came to light.

And Martin will have trouble finding work. Not many coaches will want to take a chance on bringing him into their locker room. He'll be looked at as a guy that is weak-minded, a guy that is timid and can't handle adversity.

And if a team does bring him in, it will be hard for him to shake this incident and gain his teammates' trust and respect. He'll be looked at as a snitch. They'll distance themselves from him.

So, villains, heroes, it doesn't really matter because the second this mess left the locker room and hit the news, everyone lost.