NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber disputes the notion that there’s “a thug culture” within locker rooms around the National Football League.
And he says some teams need a guy like Richie Incognito, who was suspended indefinitely by the Miami Dolphins this week for allegedly bullying teammate Jonathan Martin.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a thug culture,” Barber said Tuesday on “The O’Reilly Factor.” “It exists in some corners of the National Football League. And look, Richie Incognito is needed on some teams. They need that attitude.”
Martin left the Dolphins last week and headed home to Los Angeles for counseling. Allegations of harassment soon surfaced, including a leaked voicemail left for Martin by Incognito in April that was both threatening and racially-charged.
A report in the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Tuesday said Dolphins coaches asked Incognito to “toughen up” Martin after the offensive lineman missed two days of voluntary OTAs.
Barber, who now works as a host on CBS Sports Radio, was asked if he’d hire Incognito.
“Every team wants a guy like that,” he said. “Right now, knowing what I know, absolutely not. He’s probably going to be blackballed from the National Football League.”
Incognito called Martin, who is biracial, a “half n—–” in a voicemail transcribed earlier this week by ESPN. The website TMZ.com later published a video of a shirtless Incognito using racial slurs during a rant in a Florida pool hall.
“It was certainly alcohol-fueled, and the use of the N-word, while never acceptable, I don’t want to say it’s understandable, but it’s used,” Barber said. “This wasn’t used in hate, this wasn’t the Riley Cooper situation over the summer.”
Going back to the debate over the perceived — by some — “thug culture” in the NFL, Barber said he’s sure he’s played with former gang members who escaped the life via professional football.
“I don’t know (how many there are) but I guarantee you I played with at least a couple and they found their way out of that culture by being in the National Football League,” he told host Bill O’Reilly. “It was their vehicle to get out of wherever they were.”
When O’Reilly said the league “is part of America, it’s a business,” Barber replied: “But it’s also barbarianism, and we celebrate collisions and violence.”
“Of course, most guys can separate it,” he added. “They can switch that engine off when the game stops.”
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