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National Columnist

After Richie Incognito gets taste of his own medicine, can it be a cure?

Wells report: Harassment details | Martin considered suicide | Coach involved | Racist messages | Incognito lawyer response | NFL, NFLPA, Dolphins to 'review'

It's no fun being the victim -- right, Richie Incognito?

Poor guy. After the NFL announced Friday the findings of an independent report that determined Incognito had pushed Jonathan Martin to the point of leaving the Dolphins and even contemplating suicide, Incognito was under attack on Twitter. Mean people said mean things to him, picking on him when he was down, mocking him and taunting him and in effect treating him like the Wells report said he treated Jonathan Martin when they were teammates on the Dolphins.

And Incognito didn't like it.

He didn't just take it and sneer. He tried to make it stop, because while it's one thing to be on the attack, it's quite another to be the victim. And Richie Incognito was attacked Friday on Twitter after the Ted Wells report was released and determined that Incognito had harassed Martin and picked up some followers in teammates Mike Pouncey and John Jerry and even offensive line coach Jim Turner.

At first Incognito tried to make it stop by being nice to his tormenters on Twitter, reminding everyone that it was Valentine's Day and asking everyone to "Pleeeeease Stop The Hate" and even including a smiley face. No, really. I would show you that tweet, but it's gone. Incognito's entire Twitter account is gone, but I'm getting ahead of myself here. Because after trying to placate his attackers with kindness, and then by pleading with them to "stop the hate" and even, no joke, "stop the bullying," Incognito lashed out with anger. He lashed out at Ted Wells himself, cryptically reminded everyone that Jonathan Martin had considered suicide -- Incognito tweeted out the words "Bully? Or Friend" with a link to a suicide prevention hotline -- and then settled into acceptance.

"I guess I'm as dumb as I look."

Followed by:

"Goodbye twitter. Be well. See you on the other side ?"

And he was gone. His account? Apparently deleted. The stages of being a victim of the word so often used in this case, "bullying" -- fighting it with humor, kindness, anger, then acceptance before finally giving up -- were on display by no less an authority than Richie Incognito. I'm not gloating, or trying not to, because bullying is bad any time it happens, even when it happens to a person as rotten as Richie Incognito. Maybe he will, as others have before him, respond to rock bottom by becoming a better person. We've seen it from Michael Vick and Chris Culliver and Riley Cooper. Maybe we'll see it from Richie Incognito. Don't know that yet.

What we do know is this: Incognito was created, as are so many monsters. He was bullied as a kid, called "fatass" and "lardass" and "whale" according to Incognito himself. Years later Incognito had a choice to make -- become what he was taught to be, or overcome it and become something better -- and Incognito made the weak choice. He tormented others as he once was tormented, culminating in what Wells determined was vicious treatment of Jonathan Martin, who he broke into tiny pieces and noted as much in the fine book he had for the offensive line, a book where he repeatedly fined Martin for acting like a "p-ssy" and then fined himself $200 for "breaking Jmart" after Martin left the team.

Before breaking, Martin went through the stages of being a victim himself. He tried to ingratiate himself to Incognito, going along with the humor because this is what victims do, as Incognito himself demonstrated on Friday: They try to make their tormenter like them. Maybe, they think, if the bully likes me he'll leave me alone. Didn't work for Jonathan Martin last year. Didn't work for Incognito on Friday.

There's a lesson here for everyone, alleged bullies and their alleged victims and the rest of us, those who are just following this story and trying to make sense of it. The people on Twitter who think Martin is soft, even the former Dolphins general manager who counseled Martin to make it stop by punching Incognito in the mouth. There is a lesson here for you, for me, for them. There is a lesson here for Richie Incognito, located as he is at rock bottom.

Maybe we'll find out: Is he as dumb as he looks?

 
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