Antrel Rolle: Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin are both at fault in Dolphins situation
On the day the NFL Players Association issued a statement insisting on a fair investigation into the Dolphins locker room harassment situation, Giants safety Antrel Rolle said he believes both Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin are at fault.
"Was Richie Incognito wrong? Absolutely," Rolle said during his weekly radio appearance on WFAN Tuesday. "But I think the other guy is just as much to blame as Richie because he allowed it to happen."
Rolle later tried to clarify his remarks on Twitter, writing that he should have been more careful about his choice of words. "No way he is equally wrong but he does take some accountability," he tweeted about Martin.
Incognito has been suspended indefinitely by Dolphins coach Joe Philbin for reportedly sending racist and threatening texts and voice mails to Martin, who left the team of his own accord last week. The NFL is investigating the matter.
"I'm just trying to weather the storm right now," Incognito said Tuesday night to WSVN-TV in Miami, his first public comments since the controversy surfaced. "This will pass."
Rolle said he does not think the incident represents a leaguewide issue. The veteran safety spoke about the hazing he endured as a rookie with the Cardinals, when he had to pay for a team dinner (at a cost of $10,000) and was dunked in cold tubs.
"As long as it's not taken to a personal level, it's fine, it's accepted," he said. "But at the same time, when things get out of hand, as it seems to have done down in Miami, that's when things need to take a different shift."
Asked about the reports that Martin was forced to pay for a players' trip to Las Vegas which he didn't even attend, Rolle said that never would have happened to him.
"I wouldn't allow it to happen," he said. "At this level, you're a man. You're not a little boy, you're not a freshman in college, you're a man. I think everything has its limits. There is no way another man is going to make me pay for something that I choose not to pay for."
Rolle was then asked if Martin will have any issues if and when he returns to an NFL locker room.
"This football league is not built of men who try to bully other men," he said. "I think this is just an incident on its own. Hopefully, he's able to bounce back and recover from all of this that has happened and understand and take awareness that, man, you're a grown ---- man, you need to stand up for yourself. There's no punkiness that should be going on at the NFL level. Hazing is one thing, bullying is another."
That sentiment seems to be prevalent throughout the league. On Monday, Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas spoke about "being a man" in the face of hazing rituals.
"You're a grown man and you have to at some point be a man and say, 'No, I'm not going to do it,' " Thomas said.
The statement from the NFLPA said it is the "duty of this union to hold the clubs and teams accountable for safety and professionalism in the workplace" while insisting on "a fair investigation for all involved." The statement also noted that the union represents all players, meaning both Martin and Incognito.
"We will continue to remain in contact with the impacted players, their representatives and player leadership," the NFLPA said.
Rolle said the key to avoiding situations like the one in Miami is respect.
"Hazing is hazing," he said. "Players as teammates, it's extremely important that you respect one another. It doesn't matter if you're a rookie, doesn't matter if you're a two-year vet, doesn't matter if it's a 10-time Pro Bowler. Respect is a must in the locker room."