Bill Parcells reportedly says Richie Incognito was "a model citizen" when the Hall of Famer brought him to Miami, questions whether Jonathan Martin really wanted to play football and cautions that outsiders can't understand the NFL locker room environment but "it works."

Incognito was suspended by the Dolphins last Sunday for conduct detrimental to the team amid accusations he bullied and threatened Martin, his offensive linemate who has since left the team.

The situation has set off a firestorm across the country as fans, team executives, coaches and players have taken sides in the debate over the culture in an NFL locker room.

Incognito has had a history of controversial incidents dating to his college days. He was kicked off the team at Nebraska and similar issues followed him into the NFL, as Incognito got into fights with teammates in St. Louis, which drafted him in 2005, on at least two occasions.

But Parcells says Incognito turned it around when he got to Miami in 2010.

“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," Parcells told the New York Daily News. "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 30-year-old Incognito has long had a reputation as one of the NFL's dirtiest players. But he has been praised by teammates this week.


''Does he like to give guys a hard time? Yes. Does he like to pester guys and have fun? Yes,'' Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill said this week. ''But he brought a lot of laughter to this locker room, he brought a lot of cohesiveness to this locker room and he was the best teammate that I could ask for.''

Incognito's harassment of Martin included text messages that were racist and threatening, two people familiar with the situation have said. The 6-foot-5, 312-pound Martin, a second-year pro, is biracial. Incognito, a guard in his ninth NFL season, is white.