Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito denied rumors that he had been the driving force behind the bullying of teammate Jonathan Martin, but the Dolphins reportedly decided to suspend him anyway.
The Dolphins announced on Sunday that Incognito was suspended indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team, ESPN reports. The announcement came just hours after the 30-year-old lineman went on a Twitter rant, lashing out at ESPN reporter Adam Schefter and demanding that various media outlets take back their reports.
“Stop slandering my name. You hide behind ‘sources’ who are not man enough to put their name behind the BS you report,” Incognito wrote in a tweet addressed to Schefter. “This is the second time you have tried to drag my name through the mud with [sic] lies.”
Incognito’s Twitter rant was also directed at ESPN as a whole. “Shame on you for attaching my name to false speculation. I won’t be holding my breath for an apology,” he wrote. Finally, in a tweet sent to ESPN, CBS Sports, NBC Sports, Fox Sports and Pro Football Talk, Incognito wrote, “I want my name CLEARED,” apparently denying he played a part in Martin’s decision to leave the team.
Martin left the Dolphins last Monday and reportedly checked himself into a hospital after suffering an “emotional breakdown” due to excessive bullying, various outlets reported. According to the reports, the second-year offensive tackle snapped after a prank in which his Dolphins refused to sit with him in the team cafeteria. Fox Sports’ Alex Marvez reported that Martin was the target of “persistent bullying and teasing from some teammates that has plagued him since joining Miami as a 2012 second-round draft choice.”
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Despite Incognito’s denials, the Dolphins felt that there was enough evidence to justify his suspension. Team officials explained the decision in a statement. "We believe in maintaining a culture of respect for one another and as a result we believe this decision is in the best interest of the organization at this time. As we noted earlier, we reached out to the NFL to conduct an objective and thorough review. We will continue to work with the league on this matter," the statement read.
Sources close to the situation told ESPN that a key aspect in the decision to suspend Incognito centered on a team trip to Las Vegas last summer. According to the report, Incognito pressured Martin into contributing $15,000 toward the trip, despite the fact that 23-year-old didn’t want to attend the trip. Rather than deny Incognito, Martin paid the money, reportedly in fear of potential “consequences.”
Adam Beasley, a reporter for the Miami Herald, also provided some insight into the dynamic within the Dolphins locker room. Sources reportedly told Beasley that the team’s veteran players have “gotten sucked into the Miami lifestyle” and are “using the younger players as an ATM.” The reporter added that an unnamed Dolphins defensive player has “literally gone broke because he’s been pressured to pay for older players.”
This isn’t the first time that Incognito has into trouble in the locker room. In 2009, the 30-year-old was a member of the St. Louis Rams when he got into a verbal altercation with head coach Steve Spagnuolo, ESPN reports. Ultimately, the incident led to his release.