The Dolphins have suspended guard Richie Incognito indefinitely, and, according to a report, he soon will be released for harassing teammate Jonathan Martin.
Although the language of Incognito's texts and voice-mail messages may have been startling, it is the type of behavior that at least one of his former teammates -- and someone who considers himself an ally -- said he has sadly come to expect.
"None of it shocks me,'' Giants kicker Josh Brown, a teammate of Incognito's at Nebraska and also with the Rams, said yesterday. "This seems to be a person with a tortured soul. He has had his issues for quite a while, I could say . . . I don't know the details, but this seems to be something that has been haunting him for a decade.''
According to The Associated Press, Incognito, who is white, sent text messages to Martin, who is African-American, that were racist and threatening. Martin remained absent from practice Monday, a week after he suddenly left the team. The team and NFL continued investigating allegations by Martin's representatives that he was bullied, and the NFL Players Association planned to look into the matter.
"He's done,'' a team source told the Miami Herald of Incognito's future with the Dolphins. "There are procedures in place and everyone wants to be fair. The NFL is involved. But from a club perspective, he'll never play another game here.''
That would make the Dolphins the fourth team from which Incognito has been dismissed for behavioral issues. In 2004, he was suspended indefinitely for repeated violations of Nebraska team rules, and later that year, after transferring to Oregon, he was dismissed from that team. In 2009, he was released by the Rams two days after he drew two personal-foul penalties in a game and argued with coach Steve Spagnuolo.
Dolphins coach Joe Philbin did not say whether he was aware of Incognito's recent behavior before it became public.
"If the review shows that this is not a safe atmosphere, I will take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that it is,'' Philbin said. "I have that obligation to the players that I coach on a daily basis and I will do that.''
The story, although centered in Miami, created buzz in the locker rooms of the Giants and Jets. Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara, on the receiving end of the NFL's last flare-up over hazing, said he didn't feel bullied in August 2012 when he was dunked in a cold tub.
"It was just fun in the locker room,'' he said. "Of course no one would be happy getting thrown into a cold tub of water. But we know we need to respect our teammates, and we know that things can get out of hand.''
Jets offensive lineman Willie Colon addressed the "tradition'' of having rookies pay for teammates' meals, which he had to do when he entered the league with the Steelers. That also reportedly was part of the alleged bullying of Martin in Miami.
"It was heavy,'' Colon said of his check in Pittsburgh. "It was our rookie dinner. It's kind of like that rite of passage and I had to pay a heavy bill. It's a culture that's changing, that needs to change, because you're messing with a guy's way of living.''
As for Incognito, Brown said he read articles that he had changed his ways but also was hearing rumors of depression and even of Incognito barricading himself in his room.
Brown said he has a lot of assumptions about what's going on with Incognito. Although he didn't share all of them, he guessed that when the details emerge from this incident, "I am probably going to be right.''
"He was a fighter,'' Brown said of Incognito. "He always has been a fighter in the league, in the locker room, on the field, practice field, teammate or opponent. Again, just something he hasn't been able to kick. It's unfortunate. It's sad. He has always been a sweetheart of a guy to me. Eventually, your problems catch up with you.''
With Kimberley A. Martin, Bob Glauber and
The Associated Press.