Rest of Dolphins owe as much blame in Incognito flap

Dolphins in Turmoil Football
In this May 29, 2013 file photo, Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito watches during an NFL football practice at the Dolphins training facility in Davie, Fla. Suspended Dolphins guard Incognito sent text messages to teammate Jonathan Martin that were racist and threatening, two people familiar with the situation said Monday, Nov. 4, 2013. The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Dolphins and NFL haven't disclosed the nature of the misconduct that led to Incognito's suspension. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

MIAMI DOLPHINS teammates should have looked out for one of their own.

Had they, they could have easily handled the racially tinged, testosterone-infused apparent hazing of biracial player Jonathan Martin themselves.

I'm not advocating an out-and-out ass-kicking, but as men, they should have banded together and explained to teammate Richie Incognito that the ethnic slurs he was subjecting their teammate to weren't cool and wouldn't be tolerated.

So, why didn't they shut it down? Might it be because some have spent too much time slinging the same slur at one another? Or have they listened to it in the lyrics of rap songs to the point that they've become completely numb to it?

I have to hand it to CBS football analyst Shannon Sharpe, who over the weekend went in hard on this subject. And he wasn't just dumping on Incognito, who's been suspended, but on practically the entire Miami Dolphins team. The Pro Football Hall of Famer was on point, especially when you consider that the Miami Dolphins are a predominantly black team. Incognito is white.

"If you allow Richie Incognito to walk around in an open locker room and to use a racial epithet that most black Americans, all black Americans, know the stigma and the hate and the vitriol that comes with that word," Sharpe said on air. "If you allow him to do that, you're encouraging him to do that."

Sharpe, 45, went on to slam Incognito's "honorary black" status, saying: "There's no such thing. This tells me everything I need to know about the Miami Dolphins' locker room."

There are a lot of unknowns in this case, such as the full extent of the harassment that Martin, who attended Stanford University, claims led to emotional stress so bad he wound up checking into a hospital.

Incognito ought to be ashamed of his actions, but so should every other member of the Dolphins who witnessed the alleged abuse and didn't step up to shut it down, particularly the racial slander. I'll bet some players didn't because they buy into the old, tired claim that certain people can use it and others can't. Or maybe they've embraced it to take the sting out and think if you put an "a" at the end of the slur instead of an "er," that softens it.

Bull to all of the above.

I hope the Dolphins get to see Sharpe's emotional, on-air rant now on YouTube, because at one point, he talks directly to them.

"I hope I'm wrong and they didn't allow Richie Incognito to say this racially charged word in an open locker room and go unchecked," Sharpe said. "That's unacceptable. If he said that to Jonathan Martin, he said it to you, too. Because if you're black, you know what this word means."

Incognito and Martin reportedly exchanged 1,142 texts during an 18-month period. Maybe Martin was trying to be friendly with Incognito, hoping to get him to chill.

"My actions were coming from a place of love," Incognito said on "Fox NFL Sunday." "No matter how bad or how vulgar it sounds, that's how we communicate, that's how our friendship was."

Now, how was it that Incognito got the idea that people who love one another refer to each other with the n-word?

On Twitter: @JeniceArmstrong