Richie Incognito is at the center of an ever-growing saga surrounding the Miami Dolphins locker room and Jonathan Martin's sudden departure from the team. Martin alleges that he was harassed by teammates throughout his rookie year and well into his second season with the team, and that Incognito had sent him racist and threatening voicemails and text messages that have since been turned over to the NFL for investigation.
Recent news and Incognito's already long history of being a mercurial player has made him an easy villain to paint, but on Wednesday several Dolphins teammates came out in support of the guard and complicated a sensitive story.
Most curious was quarterback Ryan Tannehill's assertion that Incognito was Martin's best friend on the team. Several others corroborated the assertion, including defensive tackle Randy Starks, who said that Incognito even went to Martin's side when Martin got into a scuffle with rookie pass rusher Dion Jordan at practice, per Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post.
Randy Starks: Incognito took Martin under his wings, was like a big brother to him.— Andrew Abramson (@AbramsonPBP) November 6, 2013
Other players directly criticized Martin. Wide receiver Brian Hartline said that Martin once laughed about the now-infamous voicemail that was sent to the NFL as evidence of harassment. He added that Martin and Incognito were close. Right tackle Tyson Clabo was reportedly irate at Martin, per Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald.
Tyson Clabo is irate at Jonathan Martin: "I don't know why he's doing this. ... This is ridiculous."— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) November 6, 2013
Neither Hartline nor Clabo committed to an answer when asked if they would accept Martin back into the locker room.
Hartline: "If the coaches actually asked to toughen up Jon Martin why would they ask a racist bully person of an arch enemy to do so?"— Andrew Abramson (@AbramsonPBP) November 6, 2013
Clabo added that "[Incognito] was a pretty good teammate" and advised Martin to "stand up and be a man" if he had a problem with how he was being treated. That sentiment was reportedly shared by several other players who talked with ESPN's Cris Carter about the situation. Center Mike Pouncey and wide receiver Mike Wallace both told Carter that they "respect" and "love" Incognito during a Wednesday interview on "SportsCenter."
Those looking for a clean resolution to this story should back away now.