Miami Dolphins players opened up Wednesday for the first time about the Jonathan Martin–Richie Incognito controversy, and the result was an overwhelming wave of support for the veteran Incognito.
Incognito was, according to his teammates, a well-respected leader in the Miami locker room. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, whom the two have protected on the offensive line for the past two seasons, even went as far as to say that Martin and Incognito were “best friends” who shared a little brother-big brother relationship.
No Dolphins player was more vocal — and more visibly frustrated — about the situation, however, than wide receiver Brian Hartline. The wideout spoke to reporters Wednesday about the vulgar and apparently racially charged voice mail that has become the centerpiece of the investigation thus far, saying that Martin originally did not seem at all offended by Incognito’s words.
“This is the same guy that was laughing about this voice mail at one point in time, first of all,” Hartline said of Martin, via NFL.com. “Second of all, I believe that if you look through the whole voice mail, there’s some things said that you probably shouldn’t say in general, friends or not friends. But I know for a fact, that I’ve said things to my friends that I kind of wish I’ve never said to, either.”
Hartline said that he and his teammates had originally planned not to comment on the relationship between the two offensive linemen while the NFL’s investigation is ongoing but decided to speak their minds after hearing what they considered unwarranted criticism from the media.
“They’re attacking our coach. They’re attacking the values of the rest of the people in this locker room, and they have the mic last,” Hartline said. “I mean, we were at a point where we weren’t told to say anything. We weren’t going to talk. There was an investigation, plain and simple. You guys expected that.
“And now we’re able to say our opinion and really protect ourselves from being bullied from you guys, because we weren’t talking. We weren’t fighting back. No one said a word. You had no comments from Richie, had no comments from us. … We’re kind of tired of it. We’re just going to do our point, and you guys can judge. But, honestly, it caught us all off guard, and it’s a shame it happened.”