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The NFL currently is investigating the troubled relationship between Incognito and teammate Jonathan Martin, who left the Dolphins last week because of emotional issues stemming from alleged harassment and misconduct.
Incognito, who was suspended Sunday by the Dolphins for conduct detrimental for the team, has been identified as making racial slurs and physical threats toward Martin, who is biracial, in a voice mail message sent this past April.
But despite the derogatory and racially charged language in Incognito’s voice mail, Dolphins center Mike Pouncey and star wide receiver Mike Wallace both told ESPN’s Cris Carter that they want Incognito back on the team.
Carter recounted his conversations with Pouncey and Wallace during an interview Wednesday on “SportsCenter,” claiming that both players “respect” and “love” Incognito.
Pouncey, who has been teammates with Incognito for parts of three seasons, and Wallace, in his first year with the Dolphins, told Carter that they do not believe Incognito is a racist.
Pouncey and Wallace also told Carter that they feel comfortable with Incognito as a teammate, saying they feel he is not getting a fair defense in what has become a national controversy.
Conversely, three people who know Martin and have spoken to him told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that the second-year offensive tackle wants to continue playing football and never told anyone that he wants to leave the sport.
Sources confirmed to ESPN on Monday that Incognito used racial epithets and profane language toward Martin on multiple occasions. In a transcript of the voice mail message from April, Incognito referred to Martin as a “half n—– piece of s—.”
The Sun Sentinel, citing at least two sources, reported Tuesday that Dolphins coaches asked Incognito to toughen Martin up this past spring, after Martin missed a voluntary team workout. The sources told the Sun Sentinel that Incognito took the request too far.
Pouncey told Carter, however, that he was never instructed by coaches to toughen up Martin.
Incognito, in his first public comments since the suspension, told WSVN Channel 7 on Tuesday that he is “trying to weather the storm.”
“You know what, I’m just trying to weather the storm right now,” Incognito told the TV station. “This will pass.”
It’s unclear whether Dolphins coaches or management knew of any harassment between the players before Martin left the team. Recent talk of dissension in the locker room has included complaints by young players that they’re pressured to pay more than their share when team members socialize together.
The Miami Herald reported Monday that the Dolphins plan to cut ties with Incognito. The Dolphins did not place Martin on the non-football injury list Tuesday, meaning he will remain on the active roster and be paid this week, a source told Schefter.
Dolphins coach Joe Philbin became somewhat emotional while addressing the media Monday, taking the blame for the environment that was created in his locker room.
Several other Dolphins players have said they were unaware of any issues between Martin and Incognito.
“I never heard anything about it until now,” said linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, who was a member of Miami’s six-player leadership council along with Incognito.
Ellerbe also indicated that Martin should have informed the leadership council of his problems.
“We don’t have no problem with [coming forward],” Ellerbe said. “We would try to handle it the best way possible. We would rather that [happen] than this.”
Information from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter and ESPN.com Dolphins reporter James Walker was used in this report.