The Miami Dolphins have been the most controversial story in sports the past two weeks, but fans preparing to attend the team’s game in Tampa Monday mostly said they’re not embarrassed about the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin saga.
The Monday night matchup will be the first time the Dolphins have played since Martin made a sudden departure from the team. Incognito was subsequently suspended after it was revealed that he sent racist and threatening messages to his teammate.
Gene Simmons said as a Dolphins fan he’s not at all embarrassed by what’s been happening.
"I think each locker room, most locker rooms, do the same thing. He went overboard," Simmons said of Incognito. "They should have brought it to everybody’s attention long before now. That’s the problem I have with it.”
Simmons said the controversy doesn’t deflate his enthusiasm for the team, or make him look at it in a different way.
“Because that’s an individual, that’s not the whole team,” he explained.
The Dolphins are a storied franchise in the NFL, but Simmons said the story is not a big deal for the team’s reputation.
Jason Peterson, a Dolphins fan from Orlando, said he wasn’t embarrassed by the circus in the locker room.
“No, man, I mean, it’s football, man. All of that’s inside nonsense, you know what I mean?” said Peterson, who wore a Jason Taylor jersey.
He added that he thinks the matter “should just be kept in house like a family, you know what I’m saying? Family matters – that kind of deal.”
In an interview that aired Sunday on Fox, Incognito claimed he is not a racist despite his use of the n-word in messages to Martin.
Incognito said he was "embarrassed" by his use of the n-word, but also said "people don't know how Jon and I communicate to one another."
He said he was Martin’s best friend on the Dolphins.
Incognito also said Martin once sent him a death threat via text message.
Martin's attorney, David Cornwell, released that message on Sunday, revealing that it was an Internet meme photo showing a dog in its owner's arms with the caption "I will murder your entire f---ing family."
Martin has not spoken directly about the situation, but he is planning to release a video statement as soon as this week, Fox Sports reported.
In Tampa on Monday, fan Hank Kirby was a bit deflated over the Dolphins drama.
“I was pretty embarrassed with the way the offensive line was playing already, and this doesn’t help matters any," he said. "But I think a lot of people are speculating on it that have no idea what’s really going on in the locker room. And I think people should recognize whenever they go to give their opinion and let it be known I really don’t know the whole story, and none of us did. And I think the more the story unfolds, the more we’re realizing that wow, it wasn’t just something (of) Richie Incognito being a bad guy so much as just the culture of NFL locker rooms.”
But Kirby said the only thing that bothered him was that a big deal was being made out of the situation.
“I think it’s men being men. I think all Richie wanted him to do was stand up for himself. That’s all the team wanted him to do. I think that’s why the team kind of let it go on. If he would have stood up for himself, it would have ended right there,” Kirby said of Martin, a second-year player.
Martin was upset because he wasn’t getting his teammates’ respect, Kirby said.
“The reason he wasn’t getting respect from his teammates was because he wasn’t standing up for himself and stopping it back before it got to the vulgar-type language that he was getting,” he said, adding that Martin could have squashed it last year.
His attorney, Cornwell, said last week that Martin’s toughness wasn’t the problem.
"The issue is Jonathan's treatment by his teammates. Jonathan endured harassment that went far beyond the traditional locker room hazing. For the entire season and a half that he was with the Dolphins, he attempted to befriend the same teammates who subjected him to the abuse with the hope that doing so would end the harassment. This is a textbook reaction of victims of bullying," Cornwell said in a statement.
But the taunting continued, he said.
Martin was physically attacked by a teammate, and Martin received a vulgar taunt in which a teammate said he was going to have sex with his sister, according to Cornwell. He did not specify which teammate allegedly made the comment.
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