As Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Jonathan Martin prepares to share details of his harassment allegations against Richie Incognito with the NFL’s independent investigator, Incognito has begun efforts to recoup the money the Dolphins have docked him.
Incognito on Thursday filed a non-football injury grievance against the team, seeking to collect the paychecks he stands to lose as a result of his Nov. 3 suspension for “conduct detrimental to the team.”
Under the labor agreement, a player suspended for “detrimental” conduct can be docked pay for a maximum of four games, plus an additional game check. For Incognito, that would equate to a maximum of $1.276 million in lost wages if his suspension spans four games.
Incognito is seeking an expedited hearing for the case, which will be heard by an independent arbitrator.
The Dolphins have not said how long his suspension will run, but a team source has said he will not play for the Dolphins again.
The Dolphins suspended Incognito hours after Martin’s representation gave the Dolphins a seven-month-old voice mail in which Incognito used a racial slur and vulgar language in a message left for Martin.
Under league rules, the Dolphins would be required to release or reinstate Incognito following the team’s Dec. 1 game against the Jets. NBC’s Peter King reported that at least one team would be interested in signing him after his release.
Meanwhile, Martin remains away from the team and will meet Friday with attorney Ted Wells, who was appointed by the NFL to investigate the matter.
During an interview with Fox last week, Incognito said he regrets how he spoke to Martin at times but said their relationship was close and “my actions were coming from a place of love.”
Though the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported last week that Dolphins coaches ordered Incognito to “toughen up” Martin, Pro Football Talk.com said Thursday that it appears that report was inaccurate.
Asked last week whether he was following orders from coaches, Incognito declined to comment, saying: “There’s an NFL investigation, and they will get to the bottom of all that.”
Incognito also told Fox: “You can ask anybody in the Miami Dolphins’ locker room who had Jon Martin’s back the absolute most, and they will undoubtedly tell you [it was me]. Jon never showed signs that football was getting to him [or] the locker room was getting to him.”
Incognito said he and Martin exchanged text messages four days after Martin left the team after reacting angrily to a prank in the players’ dining area. Fox reported that Incognito and Martin exchanged 1,142 messages in the past year.
Martin has not commented in the past two weeks, but his attorney, David Cornwell, has said Incognito and other unnamed Dolphins players harassed Martin in ways that “went far beyond the traditional locker-room hazing.”
Meanwhile, Incognito has denied a report that Martin was required to pay $15,000 to help finance a trip to Las Vegas for Dolphins players, even though Martin did not accompany them.
“We take an offensive line trip annually to Las Vegas [and] Jonathan missed his rookie year,” Incognito told Fox in a portion of the interview that aired only on cable network Fox Sports 1. “So this whole offseason, we were joking around and saying, ‘Jon, you’re going to pay a fine for that.’…
“We have a fine code in the O-line room where we fine each other for all sorts of silly stuff – falling down on tape, all of sorts of little things – and we kept riding Jon to pay a $10,000 fine for missing his trip…. We had talked amongst ourselves, like we’re not really going to make him pay this.
“He asked us, ‘Hey, do I have to pay this $10,000 fine?’ And flippantly we were like, ‘Yeah, yeah, you’ve got to pay it.” He shows up with a check for $10,000 and says, ‘Here’s my fine money. I’m in, let’s go.’ Basically, he was throwing it in the pot willingly. This is going to finance our trip after the 2013 season to Las Vegas.”
But if that trip happens, it’s not going to happen with Incognito as a member of the Dolphins.
Already without two starters in Incognito and Martin, the Dolphins’ offensive line was further depleted by tackle Will Yeatman’s season-ending ACL injury, sustained during Wednesday’s practice. If the Dolphins fill Yeatman’s roster spot from within, one possibility is practice squad member Jason Weaver, a rookie offensive tackle from Southern Mississippi who spent time with the Buccaneers during the summer and with the Bengals in training camp.
Yeatman, a former tight end, played a combined 17 snaps in the Dolphins’ past two games.