Miami Dolphins' suspended lineman Richie Incognito spoke out for the first time Sunday in an interview with Fox Sports' Jay Glazer since he became the focus of an NFL harassment investigation based on accusations made by teammate Jonathan Martin.
The second-year lineman Martin abruptly left the Dolphins last week after allegedly becoming fed up with over a year's worth of harassment from teammates and veterans on the team, led by Incognito. Leaked text messages show Incognito calling Martin a "half-n-----" and threatening to defecate in his mouth. The Dolphins will apparently cut Martin by the time this scandal is over, despite reports he was asked by coaches to "toughen up" Martin. Thought perhaps that explains why the NFL Network's Mike Silver reported Sunday morning head coach Joe Philbin and general manager Jeff Ireland will likely be fired, too.
Incognito's reputation was in the toilet going into Sunday's morning's pre-recorded interview segment. Unsurprisingly, the Dolphins player laid it on thick and wasted no time before playing the "me against the media's perception of me" victim card. Incognito rejected notions this scandal highlighted a problem with the NFL's culture that permits bullying and hazing. "This isn't an issue about bullying. This is an issue about my and Jon's relationship where I've taken stuff too far," Incognito said. "I can be accountable for my actions, and my actions were coming from a place of love." Incognito also said he is not, in fact, a racist despite calling Martin a "half-n-----" in a leaked text message. "I'm not a racist. And to judge me by that one word is wrong," he told Glazer.
Of course, Fox was forced to add a big disclosure to the interview. Most expected Incognito to go with ESPN for his inevitable redemption interview. Instead, Incognito chose Glazer, someone he has an existing personal and financial relationship with. Glazer trains Incognito, along with many other NFL players. This isn't the first time Glazer's side-job has raised ethical questions about his NFL reporting.
But Incognito and Fox may be disappointed to learn the general public are having trouble buying the redemption narrative they're selling. Most people took issue with Glazer's participation, Incognito's defense, and his poor explanation for his behaviour. "This is essentially what it sounds like when a domestic abuser tries to explain himself," writes Deadspin's Tom Ley. Other viewers made the abuse connection as well. ESPN's Bomani Jones unloaded on Incognito, and the interview's theatrics, over social media (start at the bottom):
Jones' immediate reaction is likely only a taste of what he'll say on Monday's Around the Horn, which might be appointment viewing now. Others chose to focus their criticism solely on the fact that Incognito got to sit across from someone with whom he has a huge conflict of interest:
This isn't even journalism. This is theatre. Every word spoken in this "interview" was planned ahead of time.— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) November 10, 2013
We're all still acting like Jay Glazer training the athletes he's covering isn't a huge conflict of interest, right?— Jesse Spector (@jessespector) November 10, 2013
Fox disclosed Incognito's relationship with Glazer during the interview, but that should not excuse the player or journalist. In a lot of newsrooms, Glazer would have been disqualified from ever speaking with Incognito on camera.