"We love Richie, Honorary Black Man" - Dolphins teammates speak, and what it means
Apparently, former Dolphins G Richie Incognito has successfully gone incognegro with the rest of us.
His teammates, it’s been revealed, regard him as “an honorary black man.”
Unlike Eagles WR Riley Cooper, who did not issue threatening and racial statements to his teammates, Dolphins players have come out to support the beleaguered guard accused of harassing teammate Jonathan Martin.
An ass is an ass, as his background with Nebraska and St. Louis shows. Incognito is considered one of the dirtier players in the league, not beyond using the Ric Flair eye gouge from time to time, even.
But they he’s changed since going to Miami. He is a Good Guy in an official capacity, democratically chosen so, as a matter of fact.
And his teammates loove him. Mike Wallace said it plainly. Brent Grimes and Michael Egnew said Incognito isn’t a racist. After conversations with C Mike Pouncey, ESPN’s Chris Carter said the Dolphins wished he played with them this coming week.
So it seems there’s a reason why he’s part of the leadership council.
And then here’s where the story’s plot gets complicated.
The same teammates, hell maybe even the same players who came out in public to defend Incognito, claimed Martin isn’t black enough.
Huh. I mean, well, OK then.
From the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero’s revealing piece:
Indeed, he was considered less black than Incognito
The Stanford* educated Martin was raised by Harvard-bred parents. He was as far away from the culture that breeds professional football players as a person can get. Even locker room help, according to Salguero’s piece, called him soft.
*He protected Andrew Luck’s blindside.
As if a black man is banned from being thoughtful and well-read. It probably goes beyond that, in the way Martin carries himself, that could, for all we know, exude its own brand of exclusion, an air of arrogance that puts off his more salt-of-the-earth teammates.
If that is indeed the case, then we have a disconnect of perception that’s both based on race and class.
Race wars! Class wars!
Except here’s the twist - a white guy is leading the charge for the black guys. That in itself reveals the evolving nature of black in America. It’s no longer a simple matter of identifying with skin color and ethnic background. Black is now an ethos, a lifestyle that runs counter to the “white” perception of success — staying in school, acting with the highest of social etiquette, thinking before you speak, waiting before you act, holding everyone at a distance, keeping the id reserved.
But those aren’t colored by black, white, brown or yellow so much as anchored by class-based perceptions. One dreams of a white picket fence or a brick-walled flat, with steady pay checks and purpose for all. The other dreams of riches, too. The way of getting there, the manner of flaunting it, the act of reveling in it, runs counter to the Protestant’s level of acceptability.
And so also it is revealed, that the one man from the Dolphins organization who first came out and said bullying will not be tolerated, seems to have been the one who authorized the Code Red on Martin.
We’ll find out about Joe Philbin’s role in the bullying case, and then maybe we won’t be able to handle the truth.
Incognito may have been acting like a good soldier, and obedient CO carrying out orders received from the chain of command.
Like a drill sergeant, he was ordered to toughen that bitch up. And boy did Incognito revel in it.
It’s a pretty heady case that’s triggering different angles to debate about race, class, and yes, locker room culture.
In Incognito’s world he did the right thing — doing what the team asked, and having fun along the way, I bet. It was no secret. It appears to have been encouraged. It was accepted practice.
And that’s what those of us in the outside looking in may not be able to fathom.
I’m not sure we can apply the same type of values we hold dear to a whole other culture that thrives on aggression and brutality. But maybe it’s time to make every facet of life a safe harbor, with embracing arms outstretched to all.