Report: Incognito was encouraged to 'toughen up' Jonathan Martin
The Dolphins' coaching staff, apparently, believed that if they could toughen up Martin, it would be a key piece in creating a viable left tackle, which was a position weakened by the loss of Jake Long during the 2013 offseason. Reports suggest that Dolphins coaches asked offensive guard Richie Incognito - perhaps one of the toughest and most fiery players in the NFL - to "toughen up" his teammate, Martin.
As I am sure you have heard by now, Incognito has been accused of relentlessly bullying Martin, and it was brought to light by a voicemail received by Martin from Incognito, in which the latter used a racial slur and constant abusive language. The alleged request to toughen up Martin came after the second-year tackle missed a voluntary workout over this past offseason.
The question we now have to ask is how much is Incognito to blame for this situation if he was simply doing what he believed he was asked to do?
Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald believes that if Incognito was in fact asked to light a fire under Martin, many people within the organization will be fired. Obviously, it was not the intent of the organization to break Martin down and have him quit the team, but when you ask someone to toughen up a player, you have to be responsible to make sure that it does not go too far. Incognito is clearly at blame here as well, but the organization should have monitored the situation after asking Incognito to fire up Martin.
According to Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sentinel, "Incognito was encouraged by his coaches to make a call that would 'get [Martin] into the fold.'" If the now-infamous phone call was in fact the result of a suggestion from coaches, those coaches probably won't find themselves working for the Dolphins for much longer.
Another misstep by the Dolphins (assuming they did ask Incognito to toughen up Martin) was picking one of the biggest hotheads in the league to essentially pick on another player. Incognito has a long history of crossing the line (swinging helmets at opposing players, punching security guards, etc.), so it probably would have been a better idea to ask the favor from a more responsible player who knows when to tone it down.
I still believe that Incognito is done with the Dolphins - it would be tough to bring a player back after he was at - or near - the root of such turmoil. I also believe, however, that the reports of Incognito essentially being encouraged to bully Martin help Incognito's chances of playing for another team. A Pro Bowler last season, Incognito has arguably been the best offensive lineman on the Dolphins this season. If Incognito only bullied Martin because of encouragement from coaches, I could see a team giving him a shot and signing him, though I highly doubt it will happen in 2013.