The question raised by many: is this a legal issue or just good old-fashioned football hazing?
Teammates of Dolphins player Richie Incognito are coming forward in his defense. Meanwhile, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is moving forward with his investigation into possible misconduct. These turn of events come after accusations of bullying by second-year offensive tackle Jonathan Martin against his teammate, offensive lineman Richie Incognito.
Incognito has since been suspended indefinitely. Martin has been absent since last week's prank in the cafeteria. According to Martin's attorney, Incognito has harassed Martin for more than a year. He's left harassing messages on Martin's phone, messages which including using racial epithets like the N word and threats against Martin's mother. Incognito also threatened to have sexual intercourse with Martin's sister. And according to a statement, Martin also got physically assaulted by a teammate in the locker room.
Former Philadelphia Eagle Garry Cobb and Attorney Ken Rothweiler had a healthy debate on Good Day about the controversy.
"It is silly, it is not really that serious," said Cobb. "Guys getting up and leaving the table when you come back to it. ‘oh, I feel so sorry for him.' I mean come on! You have a guy six foot five, 320 pounds.
"I think this is a case where maybe Jonathan Martin doesn't want to play football," Cobb recalled.
Mike then pressed Cobb and asked if it was right for the coaches to encourage the teammates to toughen Martin up.
"Yes, it makes sense. They were trying to get most out of him, trying to push him into being more aggressive. You cannot take that away from football. Football is an aggressive sport. You need guys to be aggressive and assertive. If he had a problem, he could have gone to one of his teammates. He could have said something to the coaches. The fact that he never went to anybody, that is a major problem," Cobb replied.
Mike then asked him why that warranted all the extreme racial epithets and personal threats against Martin's family from teammates. Also, many people are worried about reputation. Going and telling on your teammates makes you look like a snitch.
"I think he still should have gone to somebody and said, ‘I got a problem with Richie. Richie is getting out of have line.' That would have been taken care of," Cobb replied.
Mike then asked Ken Rothweiler about the legal issues. Rothweiler emphasized that the key is whether the voicemail and the bully was against the law.
"Read transcript of what incognito said on the voicemail to Martin. It is horrific. It is certainly harassment and it is certainly cyberstalking," Rothweiler said.
He then responded to Cobb.
"I think what Garry is talking about is locker room immunity. There is no such thing as locker room immunity. The things that Incognito said absolutely broke the law," Rothweiler said.
"The coach says bad things to the players, and challenges guys. If you're going to start getting into that, the coach can go out and get in a guy's face and say, ‘you better do your dog gone job…just chewing a guy out," Cobb argued back.
"You cannot say things that Incognito said. He said, ‘I'm gonna kill you. I'm gonna kill your mother. he called him the n word and said a lot of things that certainly would be considered harassment," Rothweiler responded back.
"That was definitely out of have line for him to say that. No doubt about that, but why didn't he go talk to somebody in the organization, and say, ‘look, Richie is tripping'" Cobb argued back.
"Gary, what he said, he broke the laws," Rothweiler reiterated.
"He doesn't want to play," Cobb responded. "I'm intimidated and all this other stuff, the guy is six foot five, 320-pounds!"
Mike interjected to lead the conversation. He asked if maybe because Martin is a Stanford graduate, he didn't want to go down to the level of fist. He was more of a thinker.
"They need to have MR. LAWYER over there out on the field because you come up to the line of scrimmage and you know what they say? Guys say nasty stuff to you when you come up to the line of scrimmage," Cobb said. "'Oh, mommy, he said something nasty to me, I will go home. I want my bible. I want my mom. I'm hurt.'"
"This wasn't said on the field, this was said in a voice mail," Rothweiler responded. "When it is said in the voice mail and when it is said in communications and text messages, it is a threat and credible threat and therefore it breaks the law.
Watch the segment above to hear the whole debate. Mike concluded the segment humorously with, "By the way Garry, Ken is on the third floor, if you want to continue the debate."
Rothweiler responded, "I'm running out of here, Mike." To which Cobb responded, "I'm calling my mommy."