Richie Incognito Files Grievance to Return to Miami Dolphins

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    NFL Miami Dolphins suspend Richie Incognito

    (CNN) — NFL player Richie Incognito wants an expedited hearing on his suspension from the Miami Dolphins so he can return to the field soon.

    Incognito filed a “non-injury grievance” against the Dolphins, who suspended him for conduct detrimental to the team earlier this month, according to the NFL Players Association.

    Incognito said in an interview last weekend that his alleged bullying of Miami Dolphin teammate Jonathan Martin is misunderstood because “people don’t know how Jon and I communicate to one another.”

    Martin, 24, left the team last month because of “harassment that went far beyond the traditional locker room hazing,” Martin’s lawyer said. Days later, Incognito, 30, was suspended.

    “The grievance challenges his suspension for conduct which was alleged to have occurred while he was with the club,” the association’s statement said. “In the grievance, Incognito requests that the hearing be held on an expedited basis so that he can immediately resume playing for the team.”

    The Dolphins declined CNN’s request for comment on the filing. “Our organizational policy is not to comment on grievance matters,” a team spokesman said.

    Dolphins owner: “We need to look at ourselves”

    The NFL appointed veteran lawyer Ted Wells to investigate the controversy surrounding Martin’s departure and Incognito’s suspension.

    Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said he called for the independent investigation by the NFL because he knew the objectivity of a team investigation could be questioned.

    “We need to look at ourselves,” Ross said. “We have to examine everything internally. I know that this is so appalling to me.”

    But Ross also said he wanted to avoid overreacting. He formed a committee to help guide the changes, including former Dolphin coach Don Shula and quarterback Dan Marino.

    “We all know that the football locker room is a different workplace than most of us are accustomed to,” Ross said. “Basically, I don’t want to make any excuses. I want to know that our workplace going onward will be the best workplace that you can find in the NFL.”

    Incognito acknowledged in an interview aired on “Fox NFL Sunday” that he used racist and vulgar language in voice mails and text messages to Martin but said it was “coming from a place of love.”

    “No matter how bad and how vulgar it sounds, that’s how we communicate,” he told Fox Sports reporter Jay Glazer. “That’s how our friendship was.”

    “For instance, a week before this went down, Jonathan Martin text me on my phone ‘I will murder your whole F-ing family,'” Incognito told Glazer. “Now, do I think Jonathan Martin was going to murder my family? Not one bit.”

    While Martin has not spoken publicly since the controversy erupted, his attorney David Cornwell broke the silence on his behalf with a prepared statement last week.

    Martin tried “to befriend … teammates who subjected him to the abuse with the hope that doing so would end the harassment” — something Cornwell called “a textbook reaction of victims of bullying.”

    The taunting did not stop, however, the lawyer said. He cited “a malicious physical attack on him by a teammate and daily vulgar comments,” and a threat of a group sexual assault against Martin’s sister.

    “Eventually, Jonathan made a difficult choice,” Cornwell said of Martin leaving the Dolphins. “… Jonathan looks forward to getting back to playing football. In the meantime, he will cooperate fully with the NFL investigation.”

    “The face of bullying in America”

    “Right, wrong or indifferent, because of all this, you’ve become the face of bullying in America,” Glazer told Incognito. “Someone thinks of a bully, they think of Richie Incognito.”

    “This isn’t an issue about bullying,” Incognito said. “This is an issue of my and Jon’s relationship, where I’ve taken stuff too far, and I didn’t know it was hurting him.”

    A profanity-filled voice mail from Incognito to Martin that has been made public was intended to shock him so “his buddy” would call him back, he said.

    “I understand why a lot of eyebrows get raised,” Incognito said, “when people don’t know how Jon and I communicate to one another.”

    CNN’s Ross Levitt contributed to this report.

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