Editor's note: This article contains graphic language.
Richie Incognito was eager to hear the results of Ted Wells' investigation into the Jonathan Martin workplace harassment case earlier this week.
Incognito was so certain he would be exonerated of charges that he sent spiteful, inappropriate and not-so-vaguely-threatening messages to Martin in 2013 that he spent Wednesday sending spiteful, inappropriate and not-so-vaguely-threatening messages to Martin via Twitter, allowing us all to bask in his benevolence and sound judgment.
"The truth is going to bury you and your entire 'camp,'" Incognito tweeted to Martin, probably banging his smartphone on a table like a latter-day Nikita Khrushchev after he typed it. Incognito, self-proclaimed tragic victim of political correctness run amok and media backlash gone wild, also informed the world that Martin was suicidal last May, nasty Internet rumors being listed on page three of the 21st Century Teenage Bullies' How-To Guide, the second edition of which will feature a forward by Incognito. As a capper, he posted his own lawyer's phone number on Twitter, something most of us would not do to our worst enemy; You get the impression that the list of things Incognito would do to his worst enemy could make the directors of the Saw movies step outside for fresh air.
The truth came out on Friday. Incognito and his camp are buried. They are buried under 148 pages of detailed evidence of systematic, persistent, gross workplace misconduct. When not sharing text messages with the whole offensive line about the sexual acts they planned to perform with Martin's sister and mother, Incognito and minions Mike Pouncey and John Jerry groped another young lineman's buttocks and consistently referred to him as a "faggot," and they called an Asian-American team trainer a "Jap," a "dirty communist," "North Korean" and "Motherfucking Chink," demonstrating a knowledge of geography and politics almost as keen as their understanding of workplace law or common courtesy.
Incognito and Pouncey even went so far as to text each other with suggestions of retaliation against Martin. "Snitches get stiches Blood in blood out Fucking guy," Incognito wrote to Pouncey.
Incognito wondered on Wednesday, via Twitter, why the Wells report was taking so long. He was "ready to move on with his life and career" and had been waiting four months for a verdict which he felt would make him look like a lovable scamp, martyred in the rush to defend a marshmallow who could not take rough-and-tumble NFL life and was trying to slip out the NFL's back door with his salary intact. C'mon, investigators, the Cowboys are in the market for a hard-hitting guard, and free agency is just weeks away.
Incognito asked aloud, sounding like the dude doing 120 miles per hour on the freeway telling the cop that he is a very busy man: What's the holdup?
Well, conducting hundreds of interviews with everyone from Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to Jim Harbaugh (Martin's college coach) takes time. Assembling 148 pages of unequivocally damning evidence takes time. Due process and due diligence also take time, and the careful, level-headed reasoning of the Wells report indicates that extra care was taken to ensure that the results were not an Incognito railroad job. Martin's low self-esteem and sensitivity, his complex relationship with Incognito and Martin's poor play and lapses in professionalism (including missing practice after a night of drinking that followed a bad game) are fully addressed. The differences between a locker room and an accounting office are also taken seriously, with Wells addressing the realities of tough talk and coarse language that are part of the locker room culture.
"But limits should exist," Wells and his team concluded. "Even viewed in context, some of the behavior and language discussed in this report is inappropriate by any measure of conduct becoming of a professional athlete." Incognito must have known on Wednesday that investigators possessed his text message records and would find his delightful exchanges with Pouncey; his "fine book" full of cash prizes for "Breaking JMart" and $100 judgments against Martin for simply being a "pussy" (Incognito sent messages to teammates to have the fine book destroyed; instead, Wells provides photocopied pages); as well as the incident when the buddies spent Pearl Harbor Day 2012 donning samurai headbands and making threatening "jokes" about the team staffer whose ethnicity they had narrowed down to a hemisphere.
For that matter, Incognito probably had an inkling that sending a series of hateful public tweets to the very person he is accused of sending hateful private texts to would undermine whatever case for innocence he had, which turns out to be none. Then again, maybe Richie Incognito is just unbelievably stupid. That would explain 100 percent of his actions and excuse 0 percent of them.
He may also be a delusional, pathological liar. "I am guilty of being a loyal friend and a good teammate," he tweeted during his harangue. Through 148 pages of evidence, it's the one charge for which Incognito appears to be completely innocent.
Before the Wednesday rant, some sympathy for Incognito existed in various corners of the football world, and not all of it appeared to be misplaced. There must be a little leeway for "boys will be boys" trash talk, practical joking and grab-assing in the sports world, and if all Incognito was guilty of doing was taking things the dreaded a little too far -- with Martin giving as well as he got now and then -- maybe the public response was blown out of proportion.
Anyone who still felt that way after Incognito's Twitter rant was simply being contrary. Incognito might as well have spent Wednesday saying I do not stick up convenience stores, and I will hold everyone hostage here in the potato chip aisle until my name is cleared. A few writers claimed that Incognito made some valid points during his self-indulgent Twitter attack, which is like saying someone puked up a few tasty appetizers at the end of a keg party. Reckless behavior can only prove a person's tendency to be reckless. To put it sharply, the things that Incognito wrote on Wednesday alone -- the "bury you" remarks, the divulged personal information about suicide, posting private contact information -- would get Incognito sent to human resources at about 90 percent of the corporations across America.
Incognito revealed on Wednesday what he is capable of saying, thinking and doing when he feels that he is innocent. The Wells report reveals what Incognito says and does when he is feeling a little ornery. When Incognito really feels like pushing the envelope, he headbutts opponents, spits on them or takes time during celebrity golf tournaments to grope female volunteers and dump water on their heads.
So if you are still on the "Jonathan Martin was just being a sensitive weenie" express, this is the final station stop before you skid off the rails and over a cliff. The Martin-Incognito affair was never about bullying, though Incognito and his henchmen acted like central-casting schoolyard bullies, right down to the ringleader-and-two-sidekicks format. This is about professionalism and human decency, two things Martin (like every employee on earth) expects and deserves, two things that Incognito has spent well over a decade proving that he barely possesses.
Incognito is no longer in limbo. Roger Goodell is going to read the Wells report, retrieve the lid of his skull that flew 20 feet into the air beneath a plume of venting steam when he read the words "motherfucking chink" and throw every book in the public library that is not chained down at Incognito. Even Goodell's detractors know that he is a reliable source of Nero-in-a-foul-mood punishments. Incognito may be ready to get on with his life and career, but the second is almost certainly over, and he will be lucky to escape a meeting with the commissioner with the first.
Maybe that's all he wanted. They say no one sleeps more soundly in the jail cell like the guilty party: The wrongly-accused fret about what will happen next, but the perpetrator, free of the fears that haunted him or her for weeks, can finally accept fate. If Incognito's plan was to bring matters to a head and get Wells to drop the guillotine blade on Friday, it would appear to have worked. But Incognito does not think that clearly, and after compiling 148 pages of Incognito's potent quotables, Wells cannot possibly give a damn what he thinks, anyway.