NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Bill Parcells says Richie Incognito, embroiled in the Miami Dolphins bullying controversy, was a “model citizen for the year that I was there with him.”
Parcells was the Dolphins’ vice president of football operations when Incognito, who owned a reputation for playing dirty, signed with Miami in 2010.
“They thought he could help us,” Parcells told the New York Daily News. “We had a good visit with him, told him the way it was going to be. He was a model citizen for the year that I was there with him. I thought the kid was kind of at a crossroads where you might, could save him. It turned out they were pretty much right about that. I believe he’s played pretty well for them.”
The Hall of Famer stepped aside in Sept. 2010 but remained with the team as a consultant, handing the reins to general manager Jeff Ireland.
Ireland reportedly suggested Jonathan Martin should punch Incognito when his agent complained of harassment in the Dolphins locker room. Martin left the team on Oct. 28 after a lunchroom prank. More serious allegations of bullying soon surfaced, including messages from Incognito that reportedly contained threats and racial slurs.
Martin’s lawyer claimed Thursday the offensive lineman was put through something much worse than typical NFL hazing from his teammates. A statement alleged Martin was physically attacked and said an unnamed player issued a vulgar sexual threat against his sister.
Many Dolphins players have rushed to the defense of Incognito. Other reactions around the league have ranged from sympathy for Martin to puzzlement that he didn’t appear to stand up for himself.
“I take strong exception to people intimating they know what goes on in those rooms,” Parcells told the Daily News. “I was in those rooms for 52 years. I know what goes on in there. The players have their own justice system. And it works. They don’t write the rules and regulations down, but everybody knows what they are. Some things you don’t do.”
Parcells said there’s “nobody” on the Dolphins who thinks Incognito is racist.
“It’s a lot fairer than most of the justice systems that exist,” he said of the locker-room culture. “If a player does mean-spirited things to somebody, and I’m not saying that is what happened, the players regulate it. They don’t put up with stuff like that. The locker room is its own world. If a player is for the greater good, if he can help, come in, we want you. If you can’t, get the hell out of here. That’s what it is. Is it fair? I don’t know. That’s the law of that jungle.”
Incognito was accused of harassing a female volunteer during a Dolphins charity golf outing in May 2012, according to a police report obtained by WPLG-TV in Miami. She told police Incognito rubbed “her privates with a golf club and knocked a pair of sunglasses off her head with it” and later emptied a bottle of water in her face, the station reported.
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