Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito still has the support of some teammates despite being suspended indefinitely for his alleged bullying of teammate Jonathan Martin. The veteran offensive lineman who was voted the "Dirtiest Player In the NFL" in a poll of players conducted by The Sporting News in 2009 has been at the center of the hazing controversy swirling around the Dolphins following Martin's abrupt departure from the team last week to reportedly deal with emotional issues.
"I love Richie. I personally think he's a great guy. He's an intense guy. Everybody knows that. I don't feel like he did anything that he wouldn't do on a regular basis. I don't think he was out of hand." Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace told reporters on Monday. "I think he was just being Richie. I wasn't there when whatever incident happened so I can't really comment on that but as far as him as a person I've got a lot of respect for Richie. I love playing with Richie. I wish he was here right now. But at the same time this is a serious situation so I'm not going to get into it too much."
Echoing the sentiments of Wallace, rookie cornerback Will Davis also spoke fondly of Incognito.
"He's a funny guy," Davis said on Monday, via The Associated Press.com. "Everybody loves him."
While being careful not to speak for "everybody," Miami defensive end Cameron Wake told reporters that he didn't see anything wrong with the atmosphere in the locker room.
"I've been here for quite a while. The locker room has been fine as far as I'm concerned," Wake told reporters, via NFL.com. "But, then again, you're talking about me. I can't speak for anybody else."
That Incognito still garnered so much support from his teammates amid reports that he sent racist and threatening messages to Martin may speak to a wider acceptance of bullying behavior in the NFL.
"Beneath the disgusting details of threats and taunts and racism lies an uncomfortable truth: The NFL needs Richie Incognito more than it needs Jonathan Martin," wrote Tim Keown of ESPN.com on Monday. "Coaches love players like Incognito. They look at guys like Martin, known as soft-spoken and thoughtful while at Stanford, with skepticism. Does he have the killer instinct? Does he care enough? Those questions don't apply to Incognito. Coaches might not want to see him after hours, but they love him on the field. He's indispensable, a tone-setter, the guy who announces your team's presence with a crazed, through-the-whistle style that is prized at every level."
At the request of the Dolphins, the NFL is conducting an investigation of the workplace conditions in Miami. Th NFL Players Association announced on Tuesday that it will be monitoring the investigation to make sure that "all involved" receive fair treatment.