Richie Incognito’s Two Faces: Racist Wild Man And Calm Yuppie

Richie Incognito, the Miami Dolphins offensive lineman who’s reported bullying of his “best friend” teammate Jonathan Martin sent Martin, the former Stanford great, into a depression and AWOL from the NFL, appeared on Fox Sports Sunday with the legendary, true NFL insider Jay Glazer.

But before that, TMZ Sports posted a video of a ranting and rip-snorting Richie Incognito tearing into a bar as part of a larger gathering, shirtless and yelling “Mike Pouncey Nigga” and then prancing around the room yelling other things that weren’t all that intelligible. Here’s the video:

raissman11s-2-web So who’s Richie Incognito? That racist wild guy, the same guy who was responsible for the 2009 Rams Fan Taunting Incident, or the nice, articulate, calm man we saw in talking to Jay Glazer? Look, he’s not representative of every NFL offensive lineman. I can say that most of the guys I’ve met and talked to, and in the case of folks like Robert Gallery, hung out with, aren’t like that. This is a Richie Incognito thing, not an NFL thing.

Here’s the most of the full interview as posted at Jay’s page on the Fox website; the entire posted interview is over there.

Glazer: Full disclosure before we start this … I’ve known you, been friendly with you for about five years. A few years ago I trained you in my mixed martial arts cross training program, but even with that said, there are certain things that have come out in this whole situation that are difficult for me to grasp, for everybody to grasp. We’re going to cover all that. But I want to start with Oct. 28, the day that your teammate, Jonathan Martin, walked out. It’s changed several people’s lives and may have changed the culture inside NFL locker rooms. But take me inside that day. What happened that day?

Incognito: This is such a unique situation, but I just want to start by saying Jonathan Martin is my closest friend on the Miami Dolphins. He’s someone that I spent more time with on the field and off the field.

So, the day of the incident, we had a tough loss to the Patriots. We were up 14 points at the half, and they came back and whipped us. We were coming back on a short week to play the Bengals the next week. Normal day on a short week, we’re back in on Monday watching film, and it seemed like a normal day. We’re in the lunch room about 4 p.m. getting ready to go out to practice, and we decided we were going to pull a prank on Jonathan. We’ve done this prank many times before. Jonathan’s been in on this prank when we’ve done it to other offensive linemen, and basically the prank is this: We had 12, 13 offensive linemen sitting at the offensive linemen table, the table we sit at every day in the lunch room. And there was one seat open at the end of the table, and I told the guys when JMar sits down, we’re all going to grab our trays, we’re going to go put them away, and we’re going to leave him there sitting by himself. Jon comes, sits down and we all get up, pick up our trays and walk away. We’re all laughing and carrying on, and Jon grabs his plate of food and chucks it on the floor, runs in the locker room and grabs his keys and he’s gone.

Glazer: The joke is played, he smashes his tray on the ground, what’s your guys’ reaction?

Incognito: I immediately was concerned. In the bigger picture, it was a very small prank, but the way he reacted, I knew there was something bigger going on with him. I tried to chase him down, but he ran right in the locker room, grabbed his keys and took off. I went out to the parking lot looking for him, looking for his car, but he took off. We had practice in an hour. I got on my phone immediately and tried to call him, but his phone was off. I started texting him. ‘Yo, where you at? You OK? What’s going on?’ Nothing. So we step out on the practice field about an hour later and it’s an eerie feeling. I have no idea where Jon is, I don’t know if he’s coming back. I haven’t heard from him. Right before we stepped out to practice I had given Danny Watkins, a teammate, and Stu, the head of security, Jon’s address. I told Danny and Stu to go get him and they had already planned to do that. So they went to his house and Danny came out to practice and no Jon.

Glazer: You said it wasn’t a normal reaction. You sensed there was something clearly wrong that day. Did he show signs of anything before that?

Incognito: No. Jon didn’t show signs that day and Jon didn’t show signs of this kind of wearing on him in the days and weeks leading up to this. I spent a lot of time thinking about this. Jon never showed signs that football was getting to him, the locker room was getting to him. Jon never showed signs that day that the prank would set him off.

Glazer: Clearly, something got to him. What do you think it was that day?

Incognito: I don’t know. I haven’t talked to Jon since that day. I’ve texted with him. I haven’t seen him face to face, and I don’t know and I won’t know for certain until I speak with him.

Glazer: You are the leader of that offensive line …

Incognito: Yes.

Glazer: You guys spend more time with these guys than your own family. How was it that you guys could miss that this guy is going through something like that? You’re telling me there wasn’t any signs going into that?

Incognito: As the leader of the offensive line, as his best friend on the team, as his best friend off the field, that’s what has me miffed, how I missed this. This is someone that I’m close and have a personal relationship with and have a professional relationship with … I never saw it. I never saw it coming. We were extremely tight as an offensive line. We’re tight and if anybody would have seen it, it would have been me.

Glazer: So he leaves and you guys are trying to figure it out. You guys as a group, what did you think?

Incognito: We were concerned. Being a close, personal friend of Jon’s he had shared some deep stuff with me before. More along the lines of playing and how it affected him — more on the field stuff. We didn’t know. We had no idea where he went. We were concerned. I was concerned.

Glazer: The week before he lost his starting job to Bryant McKinnie, got switched over to the right side …

Incognito: Right.

Glazer: Did you guys see that as, hey, this is getting to be too much, maybe we better hold off?

Incognito: No. When we traded for Bryant McKinnie, he plays left tackle, so I was so wrapped up with Bryant and trying to get him going and prepared for the game, that I never really got a chance to sit down with Jon and ask him how he was doing with the change. I know Jon is a hard worker and I know that he welcomed a challenge like that. How it affected him, I don’t know. We never spoke about it. That’s a big change and I know it weighed somewhere on his mind. I don’t know how much though.

Glazer: You’re saying you don’t know what led to this. Your teammates are saying, ‘We don’t know.’ His side has clearly said, ‘We do know.’ OK, and there’s bullying involved. There was a voice message left. I’m going to read it to you. You did leave this voice message?

Incognito: Yes, I did leave this voice message.

Glazer: And it’s, ‘Hey, what’s up, you half N-word piece of blank. I saw you on Twitter, you been training 10 weeks. Want to blank in your blank mouth. I’m going to slap your blank mouth. Going to slap your real mother across the face. (Laughter) You’re still a rookie. I’ll kill you.’ You hear that, going back to that now, do you look at that and say, ‘I left that for Jonathan Martin?’

Incognito: When I see that voicemail, when I see those words come up across the screen, I’m embarrassed by it. I’m embarrassed by my actions. But what I want people to know is, that as odd as this may sound, that voicemail was coming from brotherly love. That was coming from a big brother to a little brother. The way Jonathan and the rest of the offensive line and how our teammates, how we communicate, it’s vulgar. It’s, it’s not right. It’s not decent. But that voicemail was left in a brotherly love way and it was a joking matter.

I hadn’t spoken to Jon Martin in eight weeks. I saw on Twitter that he’s up at Stanford working his butt off to get stronger and come back and contribute to the team. The part of that voicemail that is left off was, ‘OK, call me back,’ where I kind of came out of character and wanted Jon to call me back, which he did. We spoke for about 30 minutes, not about the voicemail, but about what he did eight or 10 weeks previous to that, training at Stanford.

It’s shocking. It’s embarrassing. I regret it. The fact of the matter remains, though, that the voicemail was left on a private voicemail for my friend. And it was a joke. I did not intend to hurt him. What I going for was I hadn’t seen my buddy, I wanted to shock him and I wanted to talk to him. I wanted him to call me back. When the words are put in the context of the voicemail, I understand why eyebrows get raised up. People don’t know how Jon and I communicate to one another. For instance, the week before this went down, Jonathan Martin texted me on my phone: ‘I will murder your whole f—ing family.’ Now did I think Jonathan Martin was going to murder my family? Not one bit.

Glazer: He sent that text to you?

Incognito: He texted me that. I didn’t think he was going to kill my family. I knew it was coming from a brother. It was coming from a friend. It was coming from a teammate. That puts in context how we communicate to one another.

Glazer: But there’s one thing in saying that and another thing with a white man using the N-word. How do you expect anybody in America to believe you’re not a racist?

Incognito: I’m not racist. To judge me by that one word is wrong. It’s a sensitive issue. I’m not a racist and those closest to me know that. Jonathan knows that. It’s something I regret. And something I can’t explain. It’s something I’m sorry for. I’m searching for the right words. Yes, we communicate that way. Yes, we’re vulgar to each other, but I’m not a racist. In no way, shape or form is it ever acceptable for me to use that word, even if it’s friend-to-friend on a voicemail. I regret that. I just think it’s an unfortunate situation where there’s no context around the issue and I get labeled a racist. That’s not what I am. That voicemail was sent in brotherly love. It was sent to a friend. It was sent to a teammate.

Glazer: Here’s another interesting aspect of the locker room, the cultural aspect of the locker room. Is anything off limits? Is there a line that can be crossed?

Incognito: Is there a line that can be crossed? Yes.

Glazer: In the locker room …

Incognito: Yes … and that line is crossed regularly. But there’s an understanding between the brothers in that locker room. You have 60 guys in a locker room for five months, competing day in and day out against one another. Then on Sunday you have that same team, the same brothers who are together every single day, we travel across the country with one another and we battle other football teams and we go play games. It’s an ‘us against the world’ mentality. The more, and this is going to sound messed up, but the more we prank each other, the more we push the boundaries and the more we communicate that way, the tighter we get. ‘Cause we’re brothers. It’s a family. Sometimes there’s dysfunctional parts of a family, but you understand where everyone has a common goal to win football games.

Glazer: Are you angry at Jonathan Martin that these texts have gotten out?

Incognito: I’m not angry.

Glazer: Are you angry that this whole thing went down this way?

Incognito: Angry is not the word I’d use. I’m sorry because I never intended to hurt Jon. All of this coming out, speaks to the culture of our locker room, it speaks to the culture of our closeness, it speaks to the culture of brotherhood. The racism, the bad words, that’s what I regret most, that’s a product of the environment, that’s something we use all the time. It’s something that to the outside world doesn’t seem normal. But to guys, to my teammates, to everybody who is in that situation and we’re fighting … the jokes, the pranks, there are no normal rules inside the locker room.

Glazer: There are no normal rules inside the locker room?

Incognito: Each locker room’s different. I know in Miami we’re a tight-knit crew. We respect one another. We work hard. I love those guys in that locker room. I love going to battle on Sunday with those guys.

Glazer: At the other end of that, obviously, is bullying. Bully is a bad word these days. Always has been a hot button topic, and right, wrong or indifferent, because of all of this, you’ve become the face of bullying in America. Someone thinks of a bully, they think of Richie Incognito.

Incognito: This isn’t an issue about bullying. This is an issue of mine and Jon’s relationship and I didn’t know it was hurting him. You can ask anybody in the Miami Dolphins’ locker room, who had Jonathan Martin’s back the absolute most and they’ll undoubtedly tell you me.

There are plenty of situations where I could tell you … We were in practice one time and we had a rookie defensive player and we practiced him too hard. A little tiff was forming between Jon Martin and this defensive player. And this was a day after we had lost a couple on the road and everybody was searching for answers and the defensive player goes way too hard. He comes crashing into me, we fall down on the ground and he gets up and he starts talking crap to Jon Martin. I know that this has been going on for a couple of weeks now and as a leader, I decided to step up and take a stand for Jon and I went over to the defensive player and popped him in the face. Big melee broke out, the defensive players came to the aid of their player, me and Jon were helping one another out — and this goes back to speaking of the culture — this fight went down and 10 minutes later we’re in the locker room and everybody is joking about it. It’s one of those things where you have brothers and you compete and you wear on one another and sometimes it comes to fisticuffs. But as soon as you walk into that locker room, all that stuff goes away.

Glazer: It’s interesting because your teammates, almost to a man, have said they thought you were Jonathan Martin’s best friend on the team, like his big brother.

Incognito: No question.

Glazer: Clearly Jonathan Martin and his people think you were pushing him too far. Can a big brother push a little brother too far?

Incognito: I think you can. I can only speak to my intent. I don’t know what Jon’s feelings are because Jon never shared those with me, but my intent was not to hurt Jon Martin. My intent was to draw us in tighter, the only way I know how and that’s by … When you’re brothers you grow closer by pushing through adversity. We talk bad to each other. We cussed. We had each other’s back, but we also worked hard. We were there for each other. We watched film together. I scouted his opponents for him. That’s really why I’m upset because I never knew this was going on with Jon Martin.

Glazer: You, obviously, have had a very checkered history. You had trouble back in college and in the NFL and last year there was the incident at the golf course. There are a lot of incidents that you’ve had where you’ve taken things too far.

Incognito: I’ve never shied away from talking about my past. I’ve been a cancer in locker rooms in my past. I’ve been selfish. I haven’t been a good teammate. And from where I started to where I am now, is a world of difference. I’ve had plenty of bumps along the road. I’ve made plenty of mistakes. Mistakes I’ve learned from, mistakes that have changed me, mistakes that have made me realize I need to get help. I sought counseling. I’ve made changes in my personal life. I’ve taken the steps necessary to grow and I understand that this isn’t final. I’m not perfect and I’m still growing. It makes me take a look back at my actions and makes me realize I may need to change my ways again. I’m not perfect. I’ve made lots of mistakes, but the one thing I hold on to is that I don’t think the old Richie Incognito, the guy five or six years ago who was in St. Louis picking up all those personal fouls and I see the guy now in the Miami Dolphins locker room, the guy leading the offensive line, leading that offense, leading that team … I know there’s unfinished business, but what motivates me to keep going is knowing where I was and knowing where I’m at now.

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