Allegations surfaced Tuesday evening that Miami Dolphins coaches told lineman Richie Incognito to "toughen up" rookie Jonathan Martin after he missed voluntary spring workouts. These claims come after Martin left the team Oct. 28 due to a prank by his fellow teammates, although the Dolphin's say the absence is not football related.
The Dolphins suspended Incognito Sunday for bullying Martin with racial slurs, threats on his life and that of his family after Martin gave texts and voice mails to the NFL.
The Sun Sentinel broke the news of the coaches' involvement Tuesday night, sighting "multiple sources" who corroborated the claim. But sources told the Sun Sentinel they believe Incognito took the coaches' instructions too far and that they didn't believe the coaches ever intended it to get so out of hand.
The coaches told Incognito to make a call to Martin that would "get him into the fold," after he missed the Dolphin's OTA program, the Sentinel Sun reports. However, it is unclear which coaches were involved in giving the suggestions, be it head coach Joe Philbin, or offensive line coach Jim Turner or other assistants.
A Dolphins spokesman refused to comment on the alleged coaches' involvement in the situation.
Incognito told WSVN-TV Tuesday that he was "just trying to weather the storm right now. This will pass."
Incognito does have a reputation as being a trouble maker and a dirty player. "His whole makeup is playing dirty and trying to hurt guys," Darnell Dockett of the Cardinals told CBS Sports. "Like I say, just Google it up. There are so many incidents where he's trying to hurt guys and physically bully guys."
But many teammates and other NFL players have not only come out in support of Incognito, they have criticized Martin for taking his problems with Incognito to the NFL and the public.
"They talk about teams being a family," former Ravens player and current CBS commentator Tony Siragusa said on ESPN Radio. "When you're in the locker room, that's like your home. . . . Things are handled in there and said in there that shouldn't be brought out to the media. I think he should have confronted Incognito . . . and said 'What's your problem?' "
Others say that Martin "allowed" the bullying to happen and needed to stand up for himself and settle the matter.
"Richie Incognito, is he wrong? Absolutely," Antrel Rolle of the Giants said on WFAN. "But I think the other guy is just as much to blame because he's allowed it to happen."
The Dolphins are also dealing with allegations of senior players forcing rookies to pay for $30,000 tabs and finance trips for the rest of the team, according to Fox News.
The scandals are putting a harsh spotlight on the culture of hazing that some say has permeated the NFL.