Suspended Dolphins guard Richie Incognito has not yet claimed that he did whatever he did to tackle Jonathan Martin because Incognito was told to “toughen up” his teammate. In refusing to answer that question, Incognito hinted that there was a proverbial “Code Red.”
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the early indications suggest that there wasn’t.
The concept was first reported last week by Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and the investigation could indeed result in evidence or contentions that the players were simply doing what they were told to do. For now, however, it’s preliminarily believed the players were acting on their own.
And even if there was a “Code Red,” the thinking is that Incognito and others went far beyond anything that reasonably could be expected to make a young player tougher.
Chances are that the Dolphins already have concluded to their own satisfaction that the coaches aren’t culpable. Otherwise, owner Stephen Ross wouldn’t have so fervently praised head coach Joe Philbin (while ignoring G.M. Jeff Ireland) during a Monday press conference.
“Joe Philbin is probably one of the most organized people I’ve ever met, when I interviewed him that stood out,” Ross said Monday. “What also stood out was his character. I don’t think there is a better person, a more respected person, a more caring person in the National Football League than Joe Philbin. . . . I have the total, utmost confidence in Joe Philbin as our coach.”
Even though the Dolphins have asked for an independent investigation, they have the resources to perform their own. With Ross so clearly troubled by whatever it is that occurred, it would be foolish to assume the team hasn’t already talked to coaches and players.
The stark difference between the way Ross talked about Philbin and the way Ross didn’t talk at all about Ireland suggests that, for now, the blame falls to the scientist who mixed a volatile blend of chemicals, and not the guy charged with cleaning up the mess.
That won’t necessarily stop players, perhaps at the advice of the NFLPA or their own agents/lawyers, from dusting off the Bountygate notion that the responsibility ultimately flows to team management. Indeed, Incognito’s loaded non-answer may have been aimed at creating the impression that he’ll eventually claim he was merely doing what he was instructed to do.
As the investigation heats up on Friday with an interview of Jonathan Martin by Ted Wells, it remains one of the biggest questions for Wells to answer.