For some reason when I was in high school, I adopted the Miami Dolphins as my favorite team. I can remember being the lone Dolphin fan in the basement of the fraternity house where the only TV was watching them play. They were great fun to watch with Bob Griese, Larry Csonka, Dick Anderson, Nick Buoniconti, Mercury Morris and others. The 1972 Dolphins were the last team in the NFL to finish the season undefeated and legend has it that every time an undefeated NFL team loses late in the season, the surviving Dolphins toast the loss with champagne.
I have been saddened to watch the developments of late with the Dolphins. It’s been all over the news about how second year offensive tackle Jonathan Martin left the team because of abuse by teammates with most of it coming from Richie Incognito. Richie Incognito has made a name for himself in the NFL as one of the dirtiest players in the league. It seems to be a badge that he wears with pride. In addition to extorting money from Martin and other rookies, Incognito left vile, racist messages on Martin’s voice mail. He has boasted in interviews about his wild lifestyle off the field.
Initially, the public questioned Martin’s toughness. All the rookies have to do it the public said. It was done to me so we are going to do it to them the NFL veterans said. Jonathan Martin is not your typical target for bullies. He is a Stanford graduate who stands 6’5 and weighs 312 pounds. On a weekly basis he faces defensive linemen like Julius Peppers, Greg Hardy, J.D. Watts, and others.
Last week he had had enough of Incognito and others who treated him less than a man. He walked away from the Dolphins and football. He stood up for himself and sent a message to the National Football League; a message that you can be assured they will now give serious consideration.
Richie Incognito has been released from the Dolphins and will likely have a difficult time finding another team in the league who will take him. I find it interesting that if you take the common nickname for Richard and the common definition of incognito, you come up with “Dick in Disguise”.
I have often said that ten percent of every chapter will refuse to adapt to organizational norms and has potential to bring ruin and embarrassment to the organization. Richie Incognito has done this to the Dolphins. He has ruined the reputation of a once proud organization, he has probably ended his career, and he has caused a young man to walk away from a game that he loves. I expect that Jonathan Martin will survive and persist and have a long, storied career in professional football. Richie Incognito will probably end up in a mask and tights wrestling on some late night cable channel.
Richie Incognito is not the only one at fault here. Individual teams, players and coaches who stood by and didn’t challenge or stop hazing, and the NFL itself share equally in this fiasco. No one seems to have the courage to stand up to hazing in the National Football League.
Think about the Richie Incognito’s in your chapters. Are they real brothers or do they fit the alternate translation of Richie Incognito?
See Richard haze. See Jonathan leave. See your organization in the news.
The moral: don’t be a Richard.