The NFL and the Miami Dolphins heard at least one of the offending voice mail messages sent from Richie Incognito to Jonathan Martin. A curious public got its first full taste of the vitriol early Monday afternoon when ESPN's Adam Schefter shared the contents of that particular message via Twitter.
1: Richie Incognito left this VM for Jonathan Martin in April 2013: "Hey, wassup, you half n----- piece of (expletive)...— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 4, 2013
2. More Incognito to Martin: "I saw you on Twitter, you been training ten weeks. (I want to) (expletive) in your (expl) mouth....— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 4, 2013
3. Incognito VM to Martin: "(I'm going to) slap your (expletive) mouth. (I'm going to) slap your real mother across the face (laughter).— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 4, 2013
4. Incognito to Martin, all on same VM in April 2013: "(Expletive) you, you're still a rookie. I'll kill you."— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 4, 2013
Based on that message alone, it's clear why the Dolphins went from treating the matter as "speculation" on Sunday morning to suspending Incognito indefinitely by Sunday night.
I've seen some of the evidence, and there are indeed threats of violence/racial slurs. More context, in this case, is needed.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) November 4, 2013
I'm not really sure what context you can add to Incognito's comments. The veteran lineman has a reputation as one of the league's premier meatheads. No team can stand by a player knowing evidence like that was out there, and likely to find its way onto the Internet, context be damned.
The bigger issue here, and the next phase of where this plays out, is with the Dolphins, specifically the coaches and team leadership. Breer provided a little context about that.
I'll also say this -- The Dolphins legitimately believed Martin's issues were taken care of. And Martin's teammates didn't know about them.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) November 4, 2013
Deniability, plausible or otherwise, isn't a good look, not after the quotes Schefter provided. We know now that is more than players carrying equipment for veterans, singing a song in the cafeteria or getting a bad haircut. One of Joe Philbin's players went out of his way to make slurs and threaten one of his own teammates.
If the league follows the same public stance on player safety it did in other high profile cases, like BountyGate, Philbin should be expecting a voicemail message of his own very soon, from Roger Goodell.