Fishy Business: The Dolphins' Harassment Scandal

Richie Ingonito (68) and Jonathan Martin (71) worked together on the field, but behind the scenes their relationship was more complicated. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP)
Richie Incognito (68) and Jonathan Martin (71) worked together on the field, but behind the scenes their relationship was more complicated. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP)

The Jonathan MartinRichie Incognito story began when Martin left the Miami Dolphins and accused Incognito of harassing him with racial insults and threatening his family members. The story has morphed into something much larger than a locker room spat.

With the Dolphins in the midst of a public relations nightmare, Bill Littlefield has been imagining, albeit only imagining, how the Dolphins organization might be trying to control the ugly situation.

"Here's what we need you to do," says the Dolphins guy who's been assigned to find somebody to scrape the mud off the brand. "We spin this so that we're, you know, no worse than anybody else."

He'd say it like that, wouldn't he?

"So in every NFL locker room, players are tossing racist insults at each other and threatening to kill each other's families?" asks the public relations guy who's been hired to help with the mud.

"Sure, I guess," the Dolphins guy says.

"Tough sell," the PR guy says. "Nobody's going to believe people behave that way in the locker room where Peyton Manning presides. Same with Tom Brady. Their PR's too good."

[sidebar title="A Different View Of The Dolphins' Scandal" align="right"]Slate's Josh Levin joined Bill Littlefield to discuss the Dolphins' bullying scandal,[/sidebar]"Well, we've already suspended Richie Incognito," the Dolphins guy says. "The owner has already said he's appalled at what allegedly went on. He said he's shocked, too. I think he said that. Who knows? Maybe he is. Anyway, what else should we do?"

"Let's start with what you should never do again: Richie Incognito's interview on Fox," says the PR guy.

Here's where I imagine the Dolphins guy cringing.

"Yeah," he says, "where he said the death threats had come from a place of love. I didn't think that was going to fly."

"Agreed," says the PR man. "Even if Incognito hadn't already established himself as a guy whose idea of fun is to get drunk and sexually harass a woman with a golf club, not going to fly."

"So do we make the suspension permanent? Cut him loose for good?"

"You've got a problem with that," the PR man says. "You've got a locker room full of guys who support him. You've got black guys calling Incognito an honorary black guy, whatever that means. You've got guys referring to Jonathan Martin as 'Big Weirdo.' I understand it, you've got a personnel guy and maybe a coach or two – think they 'toughen up' a 'soft' guy by siccing a man with a history of suspensions and bar fights on him. It's a cliché, but you can't fire the whole team."

The Dolphins guy wipes his brow. "So what do we do?" he says.

"I'm thinking you should win some games," says the PR guy. "You've got seven left. Win 'em all."

"That's it?" asks the Dolphins guy. "Then it all goes away?"

"Right," says the PR guy. "Win seven in a row, the story is, 'Dolphins Redeemed.' Works every time."

This program aired on November 13, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.

Bill Littlefield Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.



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