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Miami Dolphins: Richie Incognito Saga Takes Another Strange Turn





A twist in the alleged “bullying” case against suspended Miami Dolphin offensive lineman Richie Incognito seems to be emerging as reports are now stating that the message was played openly in the locker by Jonathan Martin in front of his teammates.

Now the message was obviously not the cause of Martin’s recent meltdown, but for it to be the focus of the harassment and character flaw it has been portrayed to be, well … let’s focus on the things he said rather than what we think he is doing.

There are really only two player-related stories in all of this, and the rest of it can be chalked up to mismanagement and an inability to determine what character really is. The first focus should be on what is really happening here with Martin. What we know for sure is that something caused him to leave the team. Incognito may have been hazing him, but the latest reports indicate that not only was he a great teammate, but that he and Martin were actually pretty good friends.

Something is wrong with Martin. I’m going to reserve my accusations that he is soft, a quitter or crazy. Instead, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and wait to for him to speak openly about what actually transpired that led him to make the decision to walk out on the team and file a complaint with the NFL.

The second part of this discussion is how much of a racist Incognito has been portrayed as. If the reports are true and there is more to that voice message than what was initially released, then the listener would know it was all in jest by the end of it and that he actually wanted to talk to him. That being said, when certain people see that, then they may find it to be an acceptable way to talk to other people, friends or otherwise — and it absolutely isn’t.

In his defense, a locker isn’t exactly an everyday environment. Whether we like it or not and want to accept or not, the locker room is it’s own world. Things get said in there that don’t get said in public. The guys we see at the podium doing the post-game interview aren’t the same guys we root for on the field; it’s the guy in the locker room. There is a reason the cliche “what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room” exists.

There is something bigger happening here in this story and it hasn’t been exposed yet. The NFL will continue its investigation and hopefully they will get to the bottom of it.

Scott Feder is a Miami Dolphins Contributor for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @federisbetter81, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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Miami Dolphins: Ignorance Will Cost Them Fan Base





As more details emerge about the “bullying” Jonathan Martin was the victim of by fellow offensive lineman and teammate Richie Incognito, I am astonished by not only what I’m hearing, but also because I don’t know what to think of it anymore, honestly.

One thing is for sure, what has become more evident over the last few days is how absolutely clueless Miami Dolphins owner Steven Ross is. The reason I say that is because if he knew, or cared, about achieving success on the field, he would have replaced the man responsible for bad drafts, questionable signings and a coaching staff who can’t feel the pulse of its own locker room if it were an actual beating heart.

Owning the Dolphins has always seemed like more of a commodity to Ross than anything. Do I completely blame him? I don’t know; if I was a billionaire, I guess I would have to spend my money on something. Nevertheless, the Dolphins were once a storied franchise and Ross has attempted to welcome the celebrities into the world of football instead of reintroducing winning ways to the team’s fan base.

He was conned out of millions of dollars by Bill Parcells when he first purchased the team heading into the 2009 season. Parcells’ decisions are still debilitating this franchise because the man he brought in to be the general manager, Jeff Ireland, who asked current Dallas Cowboy wide receiver Dez Bryant if his mom was a hooker, is still there.

This same Jeff Ireland hopped on a plane with his boss to California to try and convince Jim Harbaugh to coach their team. When that didn’t work, they offered their then head coach Tony Sparano a contract extension just to fire him in the middle of that same season. This same Jeff Ireland who openly admitted on HBO’s Hard Knocks that he had didn’t, in his opinion — and for what it’s worth, he was right — have a No. 1, 2 or 3 receiver on his football team after he traded Brandon Marshall prior to the start of that training camp for some draft picks. And lastly, this is the same guy who is responsible for bringing the likes of the aforementioned Incognito and Martin.

This same general manager hired current coach Joe Philbin, who has no idea what is going on in his locker room. The man preaches character and keeping guys around that best exemplify that. Sure, if that’s the excuse you want to use to explain why you cut Chad Johnson, I’m okay with that, but how do you explain this Martin-Incognito deification storm?

If character really mattered to your football team, then not one single current starter on that horrendous offensive line would be there. What makes even less sense is that this offensive line is the worst in football. It’s not like these locker room destroyers are giving Ryan Tannehill all day to throw the ball and Lamar Miller isn’t exactly leading the league in rushing. Instead, the only statistical category the Dolphins can say they are atop is allowing the most sacks in the NFL.

Where we should be talking about a gutsy performance from the defense on the Thursday night victory against the Cincinnati Bengals or this upcoming Monday Night Football matchup with the worst team in football, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, we are taking about the dysfunction in the locker room, bad management, lack of accountability, racism and bullying.

Something within the organization has to change. All Ross needs to do is stop by the American Airlines Arena one night and watch how the Miami Heat organization is run. Then, in the same day, head a few miles west and check out the new Marlins Ballpark. Walk around, marvel at its beauty and get lost in the sound of your own voice echoing off of the empty seats.

It’s coming Ross. It’s not the heat that is keeping the fans away, its your ignorance.

Scott Feder is a Miami Dolphins Contributor for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @federisbetter81, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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Miami Dolphins: What Happened to the Character, Jeff Ireland?





For a coach and a general manager that pride themselves on stockpiling character guys, the Miami Dolphins offensive line could not be further from representing that trait. Dolphins’ head coach Joe Philbin and GM Jeff Ireland shipped off the likes of Brandon Marshall and Chad Johnson because of their off the field behavior, yet the players on the offensive line seem to have had the freedom to say and do as they please. Let’s try to make sense of these ”characters.”

The dirtiest player in the league as voted by the players is left guard Richie Incognito. Most recently, without detailing every personal foul and fine of his career, Incognito has been suspended by the Dolphins organization for his alleged harassment of starting right tackle Jonathan Martin. There are allegations ranging from racist remarks and death threats to Martin giving Incognito $15,000 for a trip to Las Vegas that Martin didn’t go on just because he feared for his safety if he didn’t give Incognito the money.

Jonathan Martin himself, the victim in all of this, has left the team due to the bullying going on in the locker room. In all honestly, I fell horrible for him. The team’s offensive line has been getting killed all season long by opposing defenses as well as by the fans and members of the local media—I’m guilty of it as well. That being said, it is his job as a professional athlete to go out there and compete at the highest level. If his feelings are hurt by the criticism about his play off the field, then I don’t feel sorry for him. Man up, take some pride in what you do and do something about it. If you’re tired of getting picked on in the locker room then take it out on the opposing team’s defensive line.

Now clearly the situation is exponentially more complicated than that. Martin’s decision to leave the team has almost everything to do with the treatment he is receiving in the locker room from his own teammates and not from the outside. Where I feel sorry for him is that nobody did. For a grown man to get to the point where he walks away from a multi-million dollar gig because he was tired of being picked on, then there is a serious problem inside that organization with character and leadership.

Mike Pouncey, the Dolphins starting center, was also mentioned in story released by CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora. The extent of what he was involved in is said to be lesser than that of Incognito, but it’s no surprise to hear his named mentioned in all of this as well. This is the same Mike Pouncey who was subpoenaed by a federal grand jury merely an hour after their loss to the New England Patriots and was seen wearing a “Free Hernandez” hat in the days following former Patriot tight end Aaron Hernandez’s arrest for the alleged murder of Odin Lloyd. Rumor’s surrounding this subpoena range from Pouncey possibly having some sort of knowledge linked to the case to the possibility of gun trafficking.

The latest character added to this offensive line is none other than Bryant McKinnie. In 2006, McKinnie plead guilty to disorderly conduct and being a public nuisance on a watercraft stemming from his involvement with the “Love Boat” scandal in 2005 when McKinnie played for the Minnesota Vikings. A few years later, in Miami, he was arrested and charged with aggravated battery, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without violence when he was involved in a fight outside of a Miami nightclub.

None of this represents the type of character that Joe Philbin, ideally, would like on his football team and more specifically his offensive line. Essentially, this puts into perspective how bad things really were on the offensive line if all of these clowns are starting together. The sad part is that the “good” character guys on this team are awful and haven’t really played until recently with injuries and non-football related injuries. With the “bad” character guys playing, the Dolphins have given up the most sacks in the league. What is the point of having guys like this on the team if they are destroying the locker room instead of the line of scrimmage?

Scott Feder is a Miami Dolphins Contributor for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @federisbetter81, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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Miami Dolphins: Richie Incognito's Ignorance Led To Two Casualties





Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito has been suspended indefinitely by head coach Joe Philbin. The suspension is a result of the formal complaint filed by tackle Jonathan Martin, who was the subject of alleged harassment from teammates dating back to his rookie season of 2012.

The straw that broke the camel’s back occurred this past Monday, when Martin was allegedly invited to sit at a table with fellow teammates and after he sat down, everyone stood up and left.

Martin, evidently tired of the hazing and the abuse, stood up, slammed his food tray, left the practice facility and has not returned since then. The Dolphins have added him the “non-football injury” list and the NFL has began investigating the reports throughout the weekend.

Admittedly, the first reports of this story were mind-boggling. How can a grown man that plays a warrior’s game be so sensitive? Well, as it turns out, this lunchroom incident is just the icing on the cake. Multiple undated reports have stated that Incognito had, prior to this incident, sent text messages and left voicemails to Martin that were allegedly threatening and racially charged. The actual information within the texts and voicemails has not been made public as of this moment because of the NFL investigation.

The word childish first came to mind when trying to find a way to summarize what is going on here. Players making fun of and picking on other players in the lunchroom sounds strikingly similar to my days in elementary and middle school. Letting the bullies get the best of you, running off crying and speaking through your family also reeks of child-like behavior. So, when there are limited details on a story that had gone viral, it’s difficult to form any other opinion.

Today, however, the news has evolved from child-like behavior to threats and racism. Incognito, of course, has denied all of these claims and took to Twitter yesterday to tell reporters from the various media outlets that he wants an apology and his name cleared.

Well, guess what Incognito, just because you demand an apology, that doesn’t make you innocent.

The bigger story here is that his actions have chased a teammate off the team. Martin’s mental health, which should be the focus of this bizarre story, will take a back seat to the cause of his breakdown. The media will instead focus on what exactly Incognito said and did instead.

Since he’s been suspended indefinitely while the NFL and the NFLPA investigate the claims against him, maybe Incognito should take the time to start preparing a heartfelt and real apology for Martin, his teammates, his coaches and the fans. In an age where there has been an emphasis on anti-bullying and anti-racism campaigns, this move by Incognito just shows how ignorant someone can really be. I sincerely hope he gets on Twitter and apologizes as much as he tweeted about having his name cleared.

The Dolphins’ offensive line has been bad enough this year, now Incognito’s actions have created two more casualties on the line with Martin going AWOL and himself suspended.

Scott Feder is a Miami Dolphins Contributor for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @federisbetter81, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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Miami Dolphins: Jonathan Martin's Illness





Typically when you see the word illness on the injury report with a player’s name next to it, you think that the respective player is suffering from a bad cold or some sort of flu-like bug and you expect that player to be fine come game day.

Well, brace yourselves, this one is going to get a little weird.

Miami Dolphins right tackle Jonathan Martin is the individual listed as “doubtful” with an illness on the injury report, but this isn’t your ordinary illness. Multiple sources, including FOX Sports reporter Jay Glazer who broke the story, has reported that there was an incident in the Dolphins cafeteria Monday that involved other players allegedly joking about not wanting to sit next to Martin. The Dolphins right tackle evidently had his feelings hurt, got up and smashed his lunch tray on the ground, stormed out and no one has seen him at the Dolphins’ facility since.

I like to think of myself as a creative individual but I couldn’t make that up if I tried.

The details on this story are few and far between but one thing is for sure and that is the offense is in DEFCON 5. With Martin in the starting lineup, the Dolphins can’t protect the quarterback. The problem became such a glaring issue that Dolphins’ General Manager Jeff Ireland made a trade in Week 7 to get the line some help. The trade saw Bryant McKinnie come in and start at left tackle, which moved Martin to the right. This, in theory, was supposed to get Tyson Clabo off the field and improve the protection.

With no Jonathan Martin in the lineup tomorrow against the Cincinnati Bengals, the offense is going to have to find a way to get the ball out of Ryan Tannehill’s hands faster than ever if they hope to see him finish the game.

Scott Feder is a Miami Dolphins Contributor for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @federisbetter81, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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Miami Dolphins May Miss Jonathan Martin Thursday Against Cincinnati Bengals





Somewhat concerning news coming out of the Miami Dolphins’ camp today was right tackle Jonathan Martin, along with Dion Sims, being listed as Doubtful for tomorrow’s primetime matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals.

The biggest concern on that list is Martin, who is suffering from an illness and did not practice today, as he is the team’s right tackle after the Dolphins acquired Bryant McKinnie. Miami traded for the offensive linemen because they have the worst offensive line in the league and are on pace to see Ryan Tannehill get sacked well over 60 times this season.

What makes this news so alarming is the fact that Miami made the trade with the Baltimore Ravens to try and improve the play of the already existing personnel on the offensive line. In McKinnie’s first game with the Dolphins last week, they unit allowed six sacks — all of which after the halfway mark of the third quarter.

If Miami will not have Martin at right tackle for tomorrow’s game, look for the shaky Tyson Clabo to be reinserted into the starting lineup.

For the Bengals, they have four players who have been ruled out; most notably linebacker Rey Maualuga, who did not practice as he deals with the after effects of a concussion and a knee injury, and corner back Leon Hall, who is on injured reserve with an Achilles injury.

The Bengals also have a few players listed as questionable and the biggest of those names on that list is defensive end Wallace Gilberry, who has been limited with a groin injury. This could potentially be big for Miami who is facing one of the league’s stingiest defenses as they, the Dolphins, boast one of the league’s most stagnant offenses.

Scott Feder is a Miami Dolphins Contributor for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @federisbetter81, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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Miami Dolphins: Options Thin at Receiver Without Brandon Gibson





It’s bad news for one of the few bright spots on the Miami Dolphins offense, as wide receiver Brandon Gibson is out for the rest of the season with a torn patellar knee tendon. Gibson had come into his own over the last few weeks, scoring twice against the Buffalo Bills and once against the New England Patriots before leaving the game with his injury.

Life without their No. 3 receiver will feature Rishard Matthews and Marcus Thigpen in the slot position, after the Dolphins elected not to sign any of the four receivers that were reported to have worked out for the team today in Davie at the Dolphins’ training facility. Mohamed Massaquoi was the most notable of names to have been invited, according to numerous reports. In all likelihood, with a roster spot still remaining, the Dolphins will probably look to their practice squad, where they can bring in Nathan Palmer or Ryan Spadola.

Being that it is an extremely short week for Miami, as they are getting set to take on the Cincinnati Bengals this coming Thursday night, it was highly doubtful that anyone the team signed would have been on the field, given the lack of time they would have had to prepare for the upcoming game.

Now more than ever, the Dolphins’ top two receivers, Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline, have to become a bigger part of the offense to fill the void of the injured Gibson. Ryan Tannehill liked to look Gibson’s way on third and short passing situations and was becoming his favorite target in the red zone over the course of the last few games.

If Miami wants to utilize the size matchup in the slot, they should slide Matthews or Thigpen to the outside and bring Wallace or Hartline into the slot so that Tannehill can still take advantage of the matchup in situations where the Dolphins need to convert on a third down or to score points inside the red zone.

Another offensive possibility is that the loss Gibson means that Miami could use less three receiver sets and bring in an extra tight end. This could also, in theory, provide favorable matchups to help protect a struggling offensive line. Bringing the extra tight end could help give Tannehill a little extra time to find the open receiver, or for the receivers to get better separation.

Whatever the Dolphins decide to do, they must do quickly. The Bengals lead the AFC North with a record of 6-2 and feature the league’s 8th ranked defense in yards allowed and 5th in points allowed.

Scott Feder is a Miami Dolphins Contributor for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @federisbetter81, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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